Our new series about the people and ideas reshaping urban life all over the world, from the ground up.
After decades of decline, cities are back. With more people and new wealth, they are erasing the suburbs' historic advantage—so much so that we may be living through "the great inversion," a lasting reversal of 20th-century sprawl. But to say that more people today simply want an urban lifestyle glosses over the fundamental things that are changing because of this turn, like the ways we get around, where we choose to raise families, and how we grow old.
Americans haven't talked about cities this much since the Founding Fathers squabbled over where to locate the new capital. Even so, the conversation could be broader. We hear a lot about the same handful of cities that top the rankings: They're the greenest, the most walkable, the best places to live. When we read about innovation, it usually involves an app. Apps are great—but innovations can be low-tech, too. And they may arise in cities we don't always associate with the next wave of big urban changes.
In every case, there are people behind these innovations, and you won't recognize most of them from the urbanist conference circuit. Is it trite to say that a single activist, public official, nonprofit group, or small business can bring about real change? Maybe, but it's true. They tend to get overlooked, in part because they are so focused on doing their work, not publicizing it. Over the coming months, our City Makers series will tell their stories.
City Makers: Global Stories will criss-cross the globe to find the urban ideas just bubbling to the surface, from Pittsburgh to Brownsville, Texas, Buenos Aires to Marrakech, London to Beijing. It will spotlight the doers—the makers—who are transforming their cities, sometimes quietly, sometimes by making a lot of noise. Every week, our correspondents will fill you in on the running group that's reclaiming public space in Venezuela; the entrepreneur who offers bike tours of Atlanta's civil-rights history; and many more fascinating people and initiatives.
We hope you enjoy the series. Please chime in with your comments, and if you like a story, share it. Who knows: Maybe you'll get a few ideas for improving your own city or town.