December 15, 2020

What Will Happen to Cities in 2021? Sifting through today’s clues to forecast the future

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The post-pandemic world approaches. According to some projections, up to half of all Americans could be vaccinated by June, and another 30 percent may have acquired natural immunity through infection over the previous year.

Next summer could be surprisingly unburdened by the pandemic, which is not the same as saying it will be normal. The world that emerges from our year of plague will be altered, in subtle and dramatic ways. No one should be overconfident about exactly how the pandemic will change lives in the long run. But there are little augurs everywhere—headlines, data points, and statistics that portend shifts in the way we work, the look of urban streetscapes, the state of the economy, and the future of media.


  • The portent: Cities are already looking to slash their public-transit budgets.
  • The prediction: Cities will feel weird for a while—and the return to downtown offices will be delayed.

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