In The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City we travel the nation with Alan Ehrenhalt, one of our leading urbanists, as he explains how America’s cities are changing, what makes them succeed or fail, and what this means for our future.
Just a couple of decades ago, we took it for granted that inner cities were the preserve of immigrants and the poor, and that suburbs were the chosen destination of those who could afford them. Today, a demographic inversion is taking place: Central cities increasingly are where the affluent want to live, while suburbs are becoming home to poorer people and those who come to America from other parts of the world. Highly educated members of the emerging millennial generation are showing a decided preference for urban life and are being joined in many places by a new class of affluent retirees.
Ehrenhalt shows us how the commercial canyons of lower Manhattan are becoming residential neighborhoods, and how mass transit has revitalized inner-city communities in Chicago and Brooklyn. He explains why car-dominated cities like Phoenix and Charlotte have sought to build twenty-first-century downtowns from scratch, while sprawling postwar suburbs are seeking to attract young people with their own form of urbanized experience.
The Great Inversion is an eye-opening and thoroughly engaging look at our urban society and its future.
“The Great Inversion is a must read for anyone concerned with American cities, urbanism, and the future of the way we live. . . . The future of the city is the future of America and the world. Alan Ehrenhalt shows us how a desire for urbanism is bringing people back to America’s downtowns, and what suburbs and communities of all sorts must do to thrive in the future.”
—Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City?
“[Ehrenhalt’s] provocative, nuanced examination of the dynamics of change encourages the reader to apply his insights to cities closer to home. . . . Alan Ehrenhalt’s fascinating new book, The Great Inversion . . . finds that American cities are doing a very un-American thing: reshaping themselves in the mold of European capitals, where the privileged live in the city center, orbited by rings of immigrants and other strivers in the poorer suburbs”
“Fascinating. . . . A convincing case. . . . Mr. Ehrenhalt’s travels have given him a front-row view of ‘The Great Inversion.’ . . . Alan Ehrenhalt has traveled to towns and cities across the land and witnessed firsthand the early stages of what surely will be nothing short of a social transformation.”
—The Washington Times
“[A] mix of sharp-eyed observation and analysis. . . . Weaving census and public-opinion data throughout, Ehrenhalt displays the same narrative and reporting skills he put to good use in The Lost City.”
“Ehrenhalt takes his reader on a tour of the changing American cityscape . . . An enjoyable and engaging read, especially for those considering a move back to the city . . . Solidly researched with great questions asked and plenty of hard facts and anecdotal answers provided.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Books about cities tend to be polemics. An author decides what’s right and wrong about how we live, then marshals anecdotes and rhetoric to buttress the case. There’s another way to approach the topic: in person and on foot, following one’s instincts but open to nuance along the way. Alan Ehrenhalt follows that path, to our benefit, in his new book The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City. . . . Ehrenhalt’s sympathies are with movements like new urbanism and smart growth, but these sympathies don’t blur his sharp eye for details or the wry clarity of his prose.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“The Great Inversion and the United Nations agree; the world is becoming more urban by the day . . . To Ehrenhalt’s credit, he does not pass moral judgment on the process. With clear prose that is both informative and entertaining, he objectively states the facts (and presents a great number of voices from immigrant businessmen and local civil servants to politicians from Elite African-American families and developers), leaving his readers free to render their own verdict.”
—Joshua Bloodworth, Dominion of New York
“Most writers on cities are either cheerleaders or naysayers. Ehrenhalt is neither, and he has written a balanced, hard-hitting book that is a persuasive forecast of our complex urban future.”
—Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis
“[The Great Inversion] is a serious, provocative, and gracefully written, and consistently interesting look at how the urban-suburban balance is shifting.”
—Better! Cities & Towns
“The author’s historical perspective helps shape his provocative view.”