Editor’s Note: The Forum for Urban Design is embarking on a campaign to collect ideas for compelling projects, plans, and policies to better New York City under the next mayor’s tenure. To tie in with this theme, the Urban Design Review will be featuring lessons from pioneering global cities. ‘City Government for the New Urban World’is the second entry in this series.

The 21st century city stands poised to play a critical role as a great problem solver and generator of prosperity. We are discovering that only dense cities can reduce our heavy environmental footprint and address the devastating progress of climate change. We are figuring out how to get more out of less, drawing on their inherent capacity to solve multiple problems laterally, not one at a time. And we are embracing Jane Jacobs’ profound insight that cities are not mechanical constructs, but ‘organized complexity’ better understood by analogy with the science of living organisms. But here’s the rub: while this new way of seeing the city is widely shared, we often find that we have inherited systems on auto-pilot that were designed to produce a very different kind of urban world.

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