From the late 1970s until early in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the large, once-industrial cities belied their reputation. New urban conditions seemed inconsistent with those
that had held sway since the 1930s. Growth was once again a possibility, and decline was in retreat. The dismal state of American cities, one commentator suggested, was "the least fashionable problem of the 1980s and 1990s.'" Glimmering new office towers, retail malls, restaurants, waterfront apartments, entertainment districts, and marinas sprouted up virtually overnight to transform seedy downtowns. Dilapidated neighborhoods gentrified, and their new residents shopped and dined in bustling neighborhood shopping areas. There were skeptics, of course, but was this not a reversal of longterm trends?