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March 1972

The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis.

Author Affiliations


Arch Intern Med. 1972;129(3):502-505. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.00320030122023

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Edward Banfield, who headed the President's task force on model cities, is professor of urban government at Harvard. He has written a number of books on urban government, housing, and social planning. In The Unheavenly City, he considers the problems of cities drawing on economics, sociology, political science, psychology, history, planning, and other fields. He challenges the view that our cities are in decline. Banfield believes, to the contrary, that life in urban America has improved, and that where there has been lag is in meeting the accelerated expectations of the city dweller, which are legitimate enough, but often divisive and selfdefeating in expression.

In the early chapters Banfield outlines the widely heralded problems of cities, such as blight, crowding, pollution, and sprawl, and shows that the solutions of these problems are at hand. He notes that, by definition, a serious problem is one that the people are willing to

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