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Many cities fell out of favor during the coronavirus pandemic, as those with means abandoned them for safer pastures – often to the annoyance of both the people left behind and residents of the places they fled to. However, British historian and writer Ben Wilson says our love-hate relationship with cities is an age-old story that has been repeated again and again for over 6,000 years.
In his latest book, “,” Wilson celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly of all things urban. His hope is that cities of the future will become more affordable, sociable and livable and also fun-filled places, brimming with culture. We need cities that, “we really, really want to be in,” he says, “not just for work but for all the good things that life brings us.”
- In the last 30 years, the global economy has become increasingly dominated by a few “superstar cities” and city-regions that are highly concentrated centers of wealth. According to Wilson, “by 2025, 440 cities with a collective population of 600 million (7% of all people) will account for half of worldwide gross domestic product.”
- Privileged have faced a backlash in recent years, leading to deeper political divisions in some countries, . Throughout history there has often been distrust of metropolises and their “corrupting” and “seductive” influence, though. Wilson points to the city of Babylon which, in the Old Testament, is described as sinful and ungodly. In the 19th century, Chicago and Manchester, England were named “shock cities” because of their industrial pollution, poverty, and low life-expectancy rates, he says.
- For thousands of years, cities have spurred rapid innovation, creativity and productivity. Today, 1 billion city-dwellers live in slums, shanty towns and favelas. Wilson says people in the slums of Mumbai, Lagos and elsewhere often show great ingenuity and practice a form of DIY urbanism because they receive little to no help from weak local governments.
- How has migration to and from America’s “superstar cities” changed during COVID-19? Check out and to learn more about and what the future could look like.
- Nigeria’s Otigba Computer Village is believed to be the largest information, communications technology (ICT) market in Africa. , and its humble beginnings.
- Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing cities. Read about .
- CNN host, Fareed Zakaria hails from Mumbai. Check out to find out why he’s convinced cities will bounce back from the pandemic.