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How NYU Is Preparing Developing Cities for the Coming Population Boom

June 25, 2014, 2:00 PM

What's the Latest?

Cities in developing countries around the world are bracing for an explosive increase in their populations by 2050 and an urban planning program at New York University wants to help. Called the Urban Expansion Initiative, planners at NYU have signed up nine cities in Colombia and Ethiopia and are currently working closely with local governments to make long-term plans for what is certain to be a large population boom. "Between now and 2050 the number of people living in cities will grow from 3.9 billion to 6.3 billion. The proportion of urban dwellers will swell from 54% to 67% of the world’s population, according to the UN."

What's the Big Idea?

Rather than prepare for the inevitable, some countries have tried to discourage urban growth by limiting citizens' movement and creating restrictions on land use. One such attempt in South Korea, however, resulted in sky-high real-estate prices in the center of the city. Shlomo Angel, whose research inspired NYU's program, argues that cities must make room for growth, not with an artificial master plan, but with a "platform" like Manhattan's street grid that can be built upon. "Today’s fast-growing cities should establish expansion areas that can accommodate expected growth, plan arterial roads and public spaces, and secure the rights for both, says Mr. Angel."

Read more at the Economist

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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