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PLACE AND PROSPERITY
by William Fulton
There are few more powerful questions than, “Where are you from” or “Where do you live?” People feel intensely connected to cities as places and to other people who feel that same connection. In order to understand place – and understand human settlements generally – it is important to understand that places are not created by accident. They are created in order to further a political or economic agenda. Better cities emerge when the people who shape them think more broadly and consciously about the places they are creating. In Place and Prosperity: How Cities Help Us to Connect and Innovate, urban planning expert William Fulton takes an engaging look at the process by which these decisions about places are made, how cities are engines of prosperity, and how place and prosperity are deeply intertwined. Fulton has been writing about cities over his forty-year career that includes working as a journalist, professor, mayor, planning director, and the director of an urban think tank in one of America’s great cities. Place and Prosperity is a curated collection of his writings with new and updated selections and framing material.
Though the essays in Place and Prosperity are in some ways personal, drawing on Fulton’s experience in learning and writing about cities, their primary purpose is to show how these two ideas – place and prosperity – lie at the heart of what a city is and, by extension, what our society is all about. Fulton shows how, over time, a successful place creates enduring economic assets that don’t go away and lay the groundwork for prosperity in the future. But for urbanism to succeed, all of us have to participate in making cities great places for everybody. Because cities, imposing though they may be as physical environments, don’t work without us.
Cities are resilient. They’ve been buffeted over the decades by White flight, decay, urban renewal, unequal investment, increasingly extreme weather events, and now the worst pandemic in a century, and they’re still going strong. Fulton shows that at their best, cities not only inspire and uplift us, but they make our daily life more convenient, more fulfilling – and more prosperous.
"Fulton's gift is that he understands people and therefore understands cities."
- HENRY CISNEROS
former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
"Bill Fulton gives readers new to urbanism a set of magic goggles for reading places and understand why they like some places and not others."
- HARRIET TREGONING
former D.C. Planning Director
"Fulton is the only urban thinker of our time who combines the sharp eye of a journalist, the objective rigor of an academic, and the practice experience of a leader."
- RICK COLE
Executive Director, Congress for the New Urbanism