Glaeser ( Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier , 9) observes that city officials often attempt to renew a city with a “massive construction project - a new stadium or light rail system, a convention center, or a housing project.” If you build it, the city will come.

Glaeser disagrees: “Shiny new real estate may dress up a declining city, but it doesn’t solve its underlying problems. The hallmark of declining cities is that they have too much housing and infrastructure relative to the strength of their economies. With all the supply of structure and so little demand, it makes no sense to use public money to build more supply.”

Such projects ignore the central reality of the city: “Cities aren’t structures; cities are people,” and a city’s leaders should make caring for the city’s citizens and residents their highest priority.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart