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The Twenty-First Century City Resurrecting Urban America

By Stephen Goldsmith
Regnery Publishing 1997 ISBN: 9780895264350

About the Book

After decades of decay and decline, America’s cities are coming back. Innovative mayors from both political parties are leading the resurgence by tearing down the failed big-government bureaucracies of the past and using free-market approaches to create growth and opportunity.

In The Twenty-First Century City, Mayor Stephen Goldsmith describes this urban revival and provides a road map for other cities to follow. He explains the philosophy that unites the new breed of mayors and offers a description in rich detail of how he turned the Indianapolis city government into an internationally acclaimed model for   urban governance.

The Twenty-First Century City is the first book to describe the sweeping changes taking place in city halls across America. Goldsmith introduces readers to:

  • Union workers who cut their own budget to compete for contracts to provide services;
  • Neighborhood leaders who organized midnight drug marches to drive out crack dealers;
  • A private company that reduced the operating cost of  the city’s wastewater treatment plant by 44%;
  • Church leaders who quietly work miracles in tough urban neighborhoods;
  • Former welfare recipients who have rejoined the workforce through simple reforms.

Candid about failures as well as successes, Goldsmith shows how other cities can replicate the  Indianapolis approach. Detailed case studies explain how Indianapolis negotiated the largest airport, wastewater, and military base privatizations in United States history.

Goldsmith argues that adopting a few basic principles can help any city prepare for the demands of the twenty-first century. He writes that cities must stop asking for federal handouts, reduce the size of government, break up government monopolies, push authority down to the grassroots, and nurture value-promoting institutions. The Goldsmith approach is being adopted with success by reformers around the country.

Goldsmith also issues a warning about some current trends. He cautions that devolution may not necessarily work in the best interests of cities, that welfare reform has not gone nearly far enough, that our criminal justice system is not prepared for the coming increase in violent juvenile crime, and that education reform remains the biggest challenge to improving the quality of life in cities.

This book comes at a time when America’s cities are demanding more responsibility for solving their own problems. Goldsmith is a leader among a small but growing group of reform-minded mayors that inludes Democrats John Norquist of Milwaukee, Edward Rendell of Philadelphia, Richard Daley of Chicago and Michael White of Cleveland. The new mayors also include Republicans Rudolph Giuliani of New York, Richard Riordan of Los Angeles, Bret Schundler of Jersey City and Susan Golding of San Diego.

The Twenty-First Century City is for public managers searching for innovative ideas; students of urban policy wanting to learn from an experienced practitioner; conservatives in search of an articulate urban agenda; and all those who love the diversity and energy of American cities and want to rescue them from decline.

About the Author

Stephen Goldsmith is the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He previously served as Deputy Mayor of New York and Mayor of Indianapolis, where he earned a reputation as one of the country's leaders in public-private partnerships, competition, and privatization.


A New Breed of City Boss Thomas J. Bray, The Wall Street Journal, 6-6-98
Indianapolis mayor writes ‘City’ primer Denise Tessier, The Albuquerque Journal, 7-5-98
Practicing what GOP preaches Mona Charen, The Washington Times, 6-29-98