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A woodcut of Nuremberg from the Nuremberg Chronicle 1493. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Cities
Return of the city-state

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century

Jamie Bartlett

Detail from Hotel Room (1931) by Edward Hopper. Oil on canvas. Courtesy Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Essay/
Cities
Me, myself and I

Loneliness can be a shameful hunger, a shell, a dangerous landscape of shadowy figures. But it is also a gift

Olivia Laing

Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty

Essay/
Cities
The end of walking

In Orwellian fashion, Americans have been stripped of the right to walk, challenging their humanity, freedom and health

Antonia Malchik

Photo by Kevin R. Morris/Corbis

Essay/
Economics
The American cloud

The cosy coastal world of pretend farmers’ markets bears no resemblance to the actual back end of America

Venkatesh Rao

People make their way amid debris near the World Trade Center in New York, 11 September 2001. Photo by Gulnara Samoilova/AP/PA

Essay/
Cities
The intimacy of crowds

Crowds aren’t really crazed – they are made of highly co-operative individuals driven to shared interests and goals

Michael Bond

All illustrations by Susie Cagle

Essay/
Cities
Homes for the homeless

San Francisco’s homeless are harangued and despised while conservative Utah has a radically humane approach

Susie Cagle

Photo by Getty

Essay/
Architecture
Streets with no game

Boring cityscapes increase sadness, addiction and disease-related stress. Is urban design a matter of public health?

Colin Ellard

Detail from Cerro Rico and the Imperial Municipality of Potosí (1758), by Gaspar Miguel de Berrío. Courtesy Museo Universitario Charcas, Sucre, Bolivia/AKG

Essay/
Cities
The first global city

High in the Andes, Potosí supplied the world with silver, and in return reaped goods and peoples from Burma to Baghdad

Kris Lane

Alt-Berlin, Waisenstraße (1927) by Hans Baluschek. Courtesy of the Märkisches Museum, Berlin/Wikipedia

Essay/
Cities
Money and modern life

Sociologist Georg Simmel diagnosed the character of modern city life: finance, fashion and becoming strangers to one another

Daniel Lopez

Hans Baluschek’s Großstadtlichter (1931), oil on canvas. Stadtmuseum, Berlin. Photo of painting courtesy of Michael Setzpfandt

Essay/
Cities
A metropolitan world

Urbanisation might be the most profound change to human society in a century, more telling than colour, class or continent

Michael Goebel

Architect impression of the proposed new Google HQ in California. Image courtesy Google / BIG / Heatherwick Studio

Essay/
Cities
Work imitates life

The utopian workplace is here, complete with roof gardens, therapists and time to nap. Can the employee ever escape?

Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Map of the Port of Alexandria, Egypt, from Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation) by Piri Reis, first published 1521, map taken from the revised 17th-century edition. Courtesy The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Essay/
Cities
The city is a lie

From Ancient Egypt’s deltas to Edinburgh’s crags and peaks, the city pushes back against the dream of human separateness

Sam Grinsell

BABEL IID Arcology, elevation, population 550,000. From “Arcology: City in the Image of Man”, original publication 1970. Photo courtesy Cosanti Foundation

Essay/
Architecture
Desert utopia

It might be pleasing to dream of arcologies, mega-cities, and space colonies – but no one can design the perfect human community

Jared Keller

Wild geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 2017. Photo by Rebecca Norris Webb from the book Brooklyn, the City Within with Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Nature and landscape
A place of silence

Our cities are filled by the hubbub of human-made noise. Where shall we find the quietness we need to nurture our spirit?

Liam Heneghan

Districts like the largely Latino Mission District in San Francisco have experienced the effects of gentrification with fast-rising housing costs and the eviction of longtime tenants. 9 May 2015. Photo by Preston Gannaway/New York Times

Essay/
Cities
The harms of gentrification

The exclusion of poorer people from their own neighbourhoods is not just a social problem but a philosophical one

Daniel Putnam

Detail from Beethoven Frieze, Hostile Forces (1902) by Gustav Klimt, on display at the Secession Building, Vienna. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Music
Vienna, city of paradox

How did the city of elegant classicism give birth to an explosive modernism, threatening to destroy its very traditions?

Alexander Carpenter

A picnic is held on the streets in the centre of Brussels to ‘reclaim the streets and the public place’, 9 June 2013. Photo by Kevin Van den Panhuyzen /Demotix/PA

Essay/
Cities
Cities belong to us

Reclaiming the streets through civic participation does more than change the city: it creates citizens

Leo Hollis

Community block party in the rain. Baltimore, 2018. Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum

Essay/
Race and ethnicity
Sociology’s race problem

Urban ethnographers do more harm than good in speaking for Black communities. They see only suffering, not diversity or joy

Robyn Autry