Charles Dickens Michael Slater Yale University Press, 696 pp., $35 I. For a long time, everyone has known that Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century, the city where the modern was invented: the society of the spectacular. But everyone was wrong. The capital of the nineteenth century was London. Think about it. Walter Benjamin’s symbol of the Parisian modern was the arcade. The arcade! In London-according to the social campaigner Henry Mayhew, there were 300,000 dustbins, 300,000 cesspools, and three million chimneys.
A plan for America’s greatest urban disaster
For much of the United States, Detroit has become shorthand for failure--not just because of the dilapidation of the town’s iconic industry, but because the entire metropolis seems like a dystopian disaster. It is the second-most-segregated metropolitan area in the country; the city’s population is 82 percent African American. No other American city has shed more people since 1950--Detroit is only half its former size.
Having spent a good deal of our time examining the path of the downturn and recovery within America’s own metropolitan areas, it’s great to see other organizations doing the same--and doing it with cool technology. In that vein, be sure to check out City Tracker, a new website from the U.K.’s Centre for Cities, which provides interactive maps, tables, and charts showing how that country’s major urban areas (more akin to our wider metropolitan areas than our central cities) have performed economically over the last 20 months. So who’s up, and who’s down?