Here’s some fighting words issued against American cities:
If you want Great, American cities stack up just fine against any competition.
Pick Dallas over the last 15 years: new light rail system, new performing arts theater, new opera house, new convention center hotel, new science center under construction, new infill development abounding around the central city, new signature bridge opening yet another area for redevelopment, and a comprehensive new off-street bicycle and pedestrian system.
In fact the metropolitan combination of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas has led the success of the State as the State has led the nation in job creation over the last few years. Each urban area has a distinct personality, a distinct niche, low levels of State and Federal aid, and a high level of both private sector and municipal level entrepreneurism.
While many of the public sector monuments in China are hand picked and funded direct from Bejing, the competitive model of building great communities from the bottom up creates a more sustainable system. Major public projects in Texas cities have to “pencil out” over time to achieve long-term maintenance funding goals set by their local government sponsors (i.e., active, not passive investors). So, not only do they look great the day they are built, but they stay that way. That’s a test already in question in China where many recently opened facilities stand idle or operate at huge losses.
It brings up a choice I’ve had in mind quite a bit lately: