The Times recently reported that midtown sidewalks are so crowded that people have taken to walking in the street.
It’s a bit curious that this is happening just as digital technology infiltrates everything. If the automobile caused us to disperse, the information age seems, paradoxically, to be drawing us back together. Widespread predictions that the Internet would free us all to telecommute from the greener pastures of outer Podunk have not been borne out. Being hyperconnected in the digital dimension appears only to make us want to feel hyperconnected in the physical as well. Which is fortunate, because cities are generally beneficial in any number of ways—more efficient than suburbs and small towns in their use of energy and other resources, more conducive to the free flow of ideas, more tolerant, more, well, urbane. The question is whether technology will be able to support the millions of people whom cities are now attracting.