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There are three natural enemies of urbanism: crime, terrorism, and pandemics. In the 1970s and 1980s, crime seemed like an existential threat to American cities. In the 2000s, it was terrorism. And today it’s pandemics, as COVID-19 sweeps across the country’s dense urban areas.
For many, all three cases provoke a fear of cities, especially the dense clustering of diverse populations. This fear can prevent decision-makers from understanding and implementing solutions to those problems. Fear can distort the market, leading public, private, and philanthropic sectors to fail to invest their money into the right places. And, of course, fear of cities feeds racism.