Detroit was the first real city I knew. I grew up less than an hour's drive away, and am old enough to remember when downtown Detroit had beautiful stores and restaurants, and where my parents might take me to shop for school clothes, followed by a fancy lunch. Later in the 1960s, I remember the news of cities burning and the term "white flight" -the race-based exodus that sealed the steady decline of industrial urban America.
But for some years now, the country has been turning away from the suburban nation it became in the second half of the 20th century. New census data released in June showed that for the first time in 90 years, urban population growth outpaced suburban growth. Housing prices in some major cities are beginning to pick up -even in Detroit. "The change in living patterns could in part reflect evolving preferences for cities over the space and privacy of suburbs," suggested a story in the Wall Street Journal. A recent study of 10 top international cities conducted by Urban Affairs Review found a link between urban living and happiness: People like easy access to public transportation, shops, arts and sports facilities -and they like social connectedness.