Coronavirus Will Reshape Our Cities — We Just Don’t Know How Yet

By: Michael Safi
In: The Guardian

Few residents of the world’s great metropolises would have thought much about plagues before this year. Outside China and east Asia – made vigilant by swine flu and Sars – the trauma of pandemics such as Spanish flu or typhoid has largely faded from popular memory. But our cities remember….

But the rebound might not be strongest in the cities that currently have superstar status. People were already leaving the cores of metropolises such as New York and Paris before Covid struck, says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in California. London’s population was being sustained only by international arrivals.

“The outmigration was being accelerated by several factors,” Kotkin says. “Millennials are getting into their 30s and are thinking of buying a house, getting married, having kids, and of course the pandemic is going to make space more attractive. And the kind of urban development we’ve had has produced enormous inequality, much worse in the big cities, and that was chasing people out.”

The enforced experiment in working by Zoom over recent months might convince some they can survive outside big cities. Downtown offices were falling out of favour for years even before Covid sent tens of millions of employees home – companies such as Twitter and Salesforce have already said they will allow workers to stay there. The need to physically distance their employees may require companies to rent even more expensive office space, adding to the allure of alternative arrangements.

It is true that cities have historically bounced back from pandemics, Kotkin adds, “but some went through hundreds of years of decline. They pay a price. They won’t disappear, but we’ll have a much more dispersed world.”

Read the rest of this piece at The Guardian