In 1900, only 14% of the world’s population lived in cities. Just over a century later in 2008, the United Nations reported that over half of the world’s population was living in urban environments. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. How has this shift come about, and in what ways will expanding urbanization affect our world? In this series, our experts examine urban economics, the social implications of architecture, the rise of the ancient metropolis, and more. Join us as we take a closer look at the past, present, and future of cities.



A City Consumed

Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt

Though now remembered as an act of anti-colonial protest leading to the Egyptian military coup of 1952, the Cairo Fire that burned through downtown stores and businesses appeared to many at the time as an act of urban self-destruction and national suicide. The logic behind this latter view has now been largely lost. Offering a revised history, Nancy Reynolds looks to the decades leading up to the fire to show that the lines between foreign and native in city space and commercial merchandise were never so starkly drawn.