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The Problem

In 2010, large American cities generated almost 85 percent of the American GDP – a contribution far greater than that made by large cities in other countries. But American cities are not only great players on the home turf, they are also hugely important on the global stage – in the next 15 years, 259 large U.S. cities are expected to generate more than 10 percent of the world’s GDP1 . Mid-sized cities are also set for growth – as more and more young people choose an urban lifestyle, medium-sized cities in the U.S. will grow at three times the rate of other urban areas. It is for those reasons that it is now more important than ever that cities and urban areas deal with the problems which have been plaguing them for decades. Half a century of worsening air quality, growing traffic congestion, unsuitable parking, suburban sprawl and deteriorating public transportation infrastructure, has undermined the urban spirit and led to a lower quality of life in American city cores. People living in urban areas are more likely to suffer from stress and fatigue than those living in rural areas and a recent study found urban living raised the risk of anxiety disorders by 21 percent. Yet, many cities are no closer today to solving their problems than they were 20 years ago, even as a new set of challenges, driven by advancements in technology, changing social forces and consumption trends, is starting to emerge.

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