Let The Cities Die…


Thomas Jefferson was a big believer in country living. He just didn’t have much of anything good to say about the big city. This post will talk about the idea of eliminating “crowded urban slums” as Jefferson called them.

The mobs of the great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body

Thomas Jefferson -Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782

The city life offers you indeed more means of dissipating time, but more frequent also, and more painful objects of vice and wretchedness

Thomas Jefferson – November 14, 1803

It is clear from the above quotes and many others that Jefferson believed that the heart and character of America resided outside its urban centers. Taking an account of my personal life, I have lived almost equally in the two areas, and for the most part I prefer the countryside.

Throughout the twentieth century millions of urban dwelling Americans fled to the suburbs. Cities cleared old neighborhoods and replaced them with giant housing projects arguing that crowded urban slums had become petri dishes for disease.

But people have been moving back into cities even as technology has created myriad new ways of connecting remotely. Cities have become epicenters of new capital and creativity some think because proximity breeds serendipity and strength, from which new ideas and opportunities arise. But there is a downside to that kind of thinking, especially now as the cities are taking the brunt of the current pandemic.

The dark side is that the technology we consume today increasingly consumes us, for good and ill. It is escalating our anxieties with unending access to information and misinformation alike. But the light side is that technology is also allowing many of us to carry on with certain kinds of businesses and act globally in ways we couldn’t have imagined a generation or two ago. That very technology is allowing technological centers to happen anywhere we want them.

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