United States Urban Policy: What Is Left? What Is Right?

This Article has three Parts: Part I provides a perspective on what remains of United States urban policy after the Reagan and Bush years. Part II sets forth a critique of the current institutional framework for the construction of national urban policy. Finally, Part III addresses current challenges for American metropolitan areas. In the spirit of Tocqueville, but with two caveats, I urge that greater reliance be placed on actions of private firms and voluntary associations than on federal programs to restore the central cities of many of the nation’s metropolitan areas. Government action to protect citizens and to remove previously erected barriers to economic transformation is necessary. Although this type of government action cannot guarantee that all distressed cities will survive, it will be more therapeutic than a patchwork of social programs.