Architect, planner, and one-time developer Vishaan Chakrabarti asks us to imagine a United States in which government invests in high-speed trains linking high-density cities and does not subsidize suburban sprawl. He admits this sounds a bit naive in an era of political paralysis and at a time when the middle class and wealthy—no matter their political affiliation—enjoy perks like the mortgage-interest deduction that help perpetuate the status quo. But he builds his argument with straightforward prose and lots of easy-to-read charts and graphs.
Hyper-dense cities are more efficient in their use of limited resources such as energy, money, and time, he says. They also offer a better quality of living by reducing commuting times, putting people closer to cultural attractions, and freeing up land for parks and outdoor recreation. “A host of scholars from different points along the political spectrum, including economists, environmentalists, and public-health experts, have made a variety of findings supporting the central premise that American cities offer a cure for many of our most urgent problems,” he writes.