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A Country of Cities

Vishaan Chakrabarti’s new book A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America, argues that “by removing the legal, economic, and moral imbalances that incentivize sprawl, we can realize a more prosperous, more sustainable, and more equitable nation.” Metropolis Books, the publisher, writes of Chakrabarti’s thesis:

Today, the United States is divided, a country of countries characterized by bitter partisanship, economic decline, environmental degradation and growing social inequity. The same tired debates define our political rhetoric, but little is said about how architecture, urbanism and development—i.e., about the way in which we use land—have fueled this national malaise. Despite all the changes politicians promise to enact, altering our sprawling, gluttonous lifestyle is not among them. Our Federal policies continue to perilously fuel a country of highways, houses and hedges, and we are stuck in traffic while emerging economies are speeding past us. A Country of Cities contemplates a different nation, one of trains, towers and trees…Author Vishaan Chakrabarti passionately and straightforwardly advocates for this alternate universe and for the essential precept that cities are the silver bullet for the nation’s—and the planet’s—ills.

A Country of Cities was first developed as a series of opinion pieces published on the League’s Urban Omnibus in which Chakrabarti cast key current events as rallying cries in his evolving argument for urban density—those essays are collected here. On June 17th, during a special Architectural League event held at Scholastic Auditorium, with ticket proceeds benefitting Urban Omnibus, Chakrabarti gave a lecture to advance the ideas articulated in these essays and his book. An abridged video of this lecture is now available as well.

Published: June 3, 2013; Updated: August 26, 2013