The Great Inversion: Ehrenhalt Gets It Backwards

Published at 20:15 on 9 February 2015

What’s happening with the ongoing gentrification of the inner cities is the end of the real great inversion: those decades following World War II when the cities were abandoned pretty much wholesale throughout the USA as desirable places to live.

The inner city basically hit rock bottom in the 1970s, after several decades of accelerating decline. That was the decade when large areas of the Bronx burned and New York City almost went bankrupt. By the end of the 1980s, historic preservation was starting to make people appreciate those older urban core areas and they began a gradual, ongoing process of revival.

Those postwar decades of urban decline are an anomaly in an overall historical record in which cities have traditionally been seen as the most prestigious places to live. That those same decades encompass most of the lifespan of the Baby Boomer generation does not make it any less an anomaly.

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