Boom Towns: Restoring the Urban American Dream
(Stanford University Press, 2014)
American cities, once economic and social launching pads for residents, are all too often plagued by poverty and decay. One need only look at the ruins of Detroit to see how far some once‐great cities have fallen, or at Boston and San Francisco for evidence that such decline is reversible. In Boom Towns, Stephen J. K. Walters argues that commonplace explanations for urban decay are seriously incomplete. He reconceives of cities as dense accumulations of capital in all of its forms — which makes our labor more productive and our leisure more pleasurable. Policymakers, therefore, must properly define and enforce property rights in order to prevent the flight of capital that weakens urban centers. With its fresh interpretation of one of the quandaries of our day, Boom Towns offers a novel contribution to the debate about American cities and a program for their restoration.