Sunday's Washington Post has an article by Joel Garreau that addresses the rise and fall of world-class cities. One highlight:
How a city responds to disaster is shaped both by large outside forces and internal social cohesion. Chicago rebuilt to greater glory after the fire of 1871 destroyed its heart. San Franciscans so transformed their city after the earthquake and fire of 1906 that nine years later they proudly hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition to toast the Panama Canal and their own resurrection.
Not long ago, I co-taught a team of George Mason University students in a semester-long scenario-planning course aimed at analyzing which global cities would be the winners and losers 100 years from now. The students were keenly aware of the impact that climate change might have on their calculations, among hundreds of other factors. Yet in the end they could not bring themselves to write off such water cities as New York and Tokyo. They simply wouldn't bet against the determination and imagination of New Yorkers and the Japanese. As someone put it at the time, "If it turned out New York needed dikes 200 feet high, you can just hear somebody saying, 'I know this guy in Jersey.' "