Coronavirus Threatens the Luster of Superstar Cities

dhita yudha

Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge, on July 6, 2020. (September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times)
Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge, on July 6, 2020. (September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times)

Cities are remarkably resilient. They have risen from the ashes after being carpet-bombed and hit with nuclear weapons. “If you think about pandemics in the past,” noted Princeton economist Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, “they didn’t destroy cities.”

That’s because cities are valuable. The New York metropolitan area generates more economic output than Australia or Spain. The San Francisco region produced nearly 1 in 5 patents registered in the United States in 2015. Altogether, 10 cities, home to under a quarter of the country’s population, account for almost half its patents and a third of its economic production.

So even as the COVID-19 death toll rises in the nation’s most dense urban cores, economists still mostly expect them to bounce back, once there is a vaccine, a treatment or a successful strategy to contain the virus’s spread.

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