American cities were the hammering engines of the nation’s economic progress, the showcases of its wealth and culture, the objects of global fascination, admiration and aspiration. They were also deformed by racism, bled by the profiteering of elites and fouled by pollution and disease. But in their best moments, they offered the chance to slip the bonds of prejudices, second-guessing and limited horizons. They offered opportunity.
Then, cities worked. Now, they don’t.