May 5, 2021

AN URBAN EXPERT’S POST-COVID FORECAST: Urban Growth Will Continue.

The glue that binds information-rich industries to cities can be summarized in a word: meetings. The need to meet will return. Hurried businessmen and women will again run from meeting to meeting, iPhones glued to their ears. The business lunch will return, to the relief of downtown restaurant and bar owners. This optimistic prediction, I understand, is of scant solace for those who have borne the brunt of urban lockdowns, which have turned many downtowns into wastelands. But it will happen, I believe.

But hasn’t Covid demonstrated that transactions previously requiring a physical presence can be replaced by electronic communications? Won’t downtowns be less necessary? We’ve been here before, too. With each new technology, pundits predict a major shift—think of Frances Cairncross’s 1997 bestseller, The Death of Distance. Yet distance did not die with the Internet. Instead, the concentration of knowledge-rich jobs in large cities accelerated. More than a century ago, the arrival of the telephone and other communications improvements didn’t slow urban growth, either.

But how many people will value meetings enough to stay in Democrat-run cities with rising taxes and soaring crime?

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