Posts Tagged ‘diffusion’

City Crime; Country Crime

A recent report announced that the huge financial company UBS will be moving back from a suburb of New York into Manhattan, “because it has come to realize it is more difficult to recruit talented people in their 20s to work in the suburbs.” What a (literal) turnaround!

For about a generation, roughly from  the 1970s through the 1990s, the equation, big city equals violent crime, was a taken-for-granted part of how we understood urban life. Movie-makers needed only to zoom in on a block of New York or Chicago to give audiences a dose of stomach-churning anxiety; comedians delivered dark jokes about getting mugged in cities, especially in Manhattan; suburban teens reported fearing the central cities a short drive away. It was a big reason that major corporations moved out of Manhattan.

by Sam Rohn via Mikel Joshua

Yet, today, the image of the big city (and of Manhattan in particular) seems different, infused with romance, allure, excitement, luxury, a place of aspirations – think Sex and the City — rather than fear and avoidance. This is actually a back-to-the-‘50s sensibility about the big city.

In an earlier (and since updated) post, I discussed how violent crime in the United States dropped suddenly and continuously from about 1990 through 2010 and showed how the drop was the last stage of a down-up-down cycle starting after World War II. One aspect of recent drop is the way it has changed the geography of violence. The connection between big city and big crime has weakened greatly; big cities are not as dramatically the places of danger. We may be moving toward an older pattern: that cities are the safer places to live.


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