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.



May 18, 2013

Up from Rust?

Cities: Episode #10

In a follow-up to the episode Global Cities, Carol Camp Yeakey, founding director of the Center for Urban Research and Public Policy at Washington University, shares her own work and describes some of the interdisciplinary issues that students and practitioners of Urban Studies confront today. Camp Yeakey's ongoing research projects include the forthcoming studies No Place to Be Somebody, about Detroit, and Up From Rust:? The Promise and Peril of Urban Renewal, about neighborhoods in Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. 

April 29, 2013

Global Cities

Cities: Episode #9

In an increasingly global and interconnected world, cities across the world confront similar issues. Where and how will people live as urban centers become both larger and more dense? What are the effects of urban renewal on lower-income populations, and what types of government policies can help bridge the widening divide between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'? Carol Camp Yeakey, founding director of the Center on Urban Research & Public Policy and Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, shares her perspecives on urban studies in a global context.

April 22, 2013

Last House Standing

Cities: Episode #8

Between 1950 and 2000, some 60% of the built environment in St. Louis's Old North neighborhood was demolished, and the majority of its residents left the area. Abandoned buildings have fallen into disrepair, but should they remain standing? If the last houses on a block are torn down, leaving empty, litter-filled lots, how can we expect these neighborhoods to repopulate and rebuild? Michael Allen, architectural historian and director of the Preservation Research Office in St. Louis, describes the ambiguous role of historic preservation in neighborhoods like Old North, and challenges us to see declining urban landscapes both for what they are and what they might become.

April 15, 2013

A Tale of Dual Cities

Cities: Episode #7

Cities are often synonymous with modernity, but what exactly does modernity look like? In cities with a colonial history, such as Algiers and Cairo, often there are two city centers, two hearts: one with narrow alleys and courtyards, the other with broad boulevards and European-style storefronts. These separate architectural identities have led scholars and visitors to describe such places as “dual cities,” but Nancy Reynolds, associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, questions whether this label truly applies to the complex city of Cairo.

March 19, 2013

City of the Big Shoulders

Cities: Episode #5

During the late 1800s, industrialization transformed cities across the United States. Things most of us take for granted, like sanitation, skyscrapers, and window shopping, were just starting to enter urban life. What did cities look like during this time of rapid growth and change? What was it like to walk down those streets? In the first of two podcasts devoted to turn of the century Chicago, Margaret Garb, associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, brings the "city of the big shoulders" to life.

March 19, 2013

City of the Big Shoulders, Part II

Cities: Episode #6

As the face of Chicago changed during industrialization, so too did its workforce. The city became a bustling metropolis, but at what cost? Dangerous working conditions prompted the rise of organized labor and a progressive movement, championed by social reformers like Jane Addams and Florence Kelley. In the second part of our look at turn of the century Chicago, Margaret Garb, associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, examines the social and political movements that took place in reaction to the rapid industrialization of the city.

March 18, 2013

Cahokia: Ancient City

Cities: Episode #4

At its peak around 1200 CE, the ancient Mississippian settlement of Cahokia stretched nearly six square miles and included around 120 man-made earthen mounds. It was as large, or larger, than any European city of that time, but can we fairly or accurately call Cahokia a city? John Kelly, senior lecturer of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses the limitations of imposing the Western concept of "cities" on ancient sites and describes the mound culture of Mississippian Native American clans.

February 22, 2013

What's in a Commute?

Cities: Episode #3

Whether it takes five minutes or an hour, commuting to and from work is an essential part of most people's daily lives. But how do commuting costs, whether in time or money, influence the structure and the formation of cities? Join Marcus Berliant, professor of economics, as he provides a glimpse into the questions and answers that make up the field of urban economics.


February 18, 2013

Mapping the City

Cities: Episode #2

Cities have individual identities, but many of them face similar problems, including unequal access to education, employment, and health services. Often, the solutions to these issues are as complex as their causes. Dr. William Tate, chair of the department of education, discusses the "geography of opportunity" and how researchers are able to illustrate their work through graphics in order to better reach and inspire local citizens.

February 11, 2013

Design as a Social Act

Cities: Episode #1

At its construction in St. Louis in 1951, Pruitt-Igoe was hailed as a model for future public housing efforts, but within two decades the area had decayed into an impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood. By 1976, the entire complex was demolished. What caused this housing project to fail so spectacularly, and how can contemporary architects avoid the same mistakes? Susanne Cowan, a post-doctoral fellow in architecture and history, discusses the legacy of these buildings and the evolution of social design.