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May 18, 1970

City Life

JAMA. 1970;212(7):1205-1206. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170200069012

Milgram1 tells of the advantages, the disadvantages, and the adaptations that are part of life in cities. Among the advantages he lists variety, eventfulness, possibility of choice, and ease of face-to-face contact in doing business. But the obverse to these lies in the very fact of their numbers, so large as to constitute more "inputs" than the city dweller's system can handle. Consequently, adaptations are necessary.

Milgram notes a number of adaptive mechanisms observable in large cities. Among them are (1) devotion of less time than might be desirable to each input, (2) disregard of some inputs so that others receive exclusive attention, (3) a redrawing of boundaries in certain societal transactions so that responsibility is shifted to another party, or (4) a complete blockade to selected inputs.

Large cities of the United States are scenes of litter, overcrowding, inadequate housing, vandalism, and crime. In Washington, New York, and