This chapter, first of all, considers the complex origins of the concept of the creative city in the late 1980s to early 1990s and some of the ways in which it has evolved and been applied since then. The ‘creative city’ concept is understood in a variety of different ways, ranging from narrower policies for the cultural and creative industries at city and regional level, to fully fledged urban and regional strategies, aimed at harnessing people’s creativity as a resource, in policy areas going well beyond the cultural sector. The chapter, by detailing how the idea of the creative city evolved in several overlapping research and policy circles, will give readers a much better awareness of its historical specificity. Explaining this historical context will help in understanding the origins of the creative city idea and its various interpretations, permutations and critiques. Moreover, by analysing the further development of the idea, I will discuss its continued usefulness, even in times when certain historical developments pose a serious threat to its future implementation. The remainder of this chapter is concerned with precisely this goal in mind: using historical reflection to critically question and reconceptualise urban policy today and in the near future. The chapter also briefly discusses the idea of the ‘intercultural city’ (which emerged in the 2000s), considers a range of trends that are arguably undermining the conditions for creative urban strategies, and explores the concept of ‘cultural planning’ and its potential usefulness to revitalise the idea of the creative city.