There is a consensus today that our cities are not well. Toward the end of the twentieth century, they are inundated with problems -- physical, social, and economic. Urban transportation is deficient; inner city problems have deepened; violent crime remains a serious threat in Vast areas of the historic city centers.
Is there a common denominator to the ailments of cities of the industrialized West and of the populous Third World, in the North and in the Tropics -- of New York and Mexico City, Jakarta and Hong Kong, Toronto and Copenhagen? Despite distinct differences of scale and resources, of climate and history, there is, indeed, a universal pattern. Everywhere in the world we find examples of expanded regional cities -- cities that in recent decades have burst out of their traditional boundaries, urbanizing and suburbanizing entire regions, and housing close to a third of the world's population. 1
The initial explosion of the traditional city was primarily generated by industrial-era population growth due to prosperity, better medicine, immigration, and the shrinking of traditional agricultural economies, which sent workers streaming into cities. Movement to suburbs surrounding the urban core was then facilitated by extended transit and rail lines, and finally, most decisively, by the automobile. In the United States, the