For most of their history, large cities have been breeding grounds for violence, poverty, pollution, and infectious disease. But the benefits they offered to a country were said to outweigh these liabilities. Once, cities created a pool of manpower, talent, and resources that made them excellent defensive positions that could be a very hard nut to crack. In Europe, cities had elaborate defensive fortifications with moats and high walls that could withstand attack from any foe. Until the invention of gunpowder and the cannon, city walls were hard to breach.

Even without their defensive advantage large cities still provided big economic benefits. Factories located in cities could count on a concentrated workforce that could walk to work. Now, in the age of mass transit, widespread availability of personal automobiles, cell phones, and the internet, companies no longer have to locate factories in cities to attract workers. In fact, moving into the suburbs allows companies to pay their employees less because the burden of taxes and housing costs is much less outside major urban areas. We should take a moment to consider the state of modern U.S. cities. In an article for the Canadian Magazine Macleans George Perry wrote,

“Consider the cities of the United States: some of the newest, biggest, richest, most powerful on earth. I do not know a single American city which has come within a mile of meeting its downtown traffic and parking problems. This is particularly true of New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Atlanta and San Francisco. And the only really thorough way to relieve this problem would be to tear down a major portion of their business sections and start over.

San Antonio, Philadelphia and New Orleans have serious unmet sanitation problems. Their garbage collection is atrocious, and, especially in San Antonio, rats and the typhus-carrying fleas which hop off the rats and onto the citizenry sent its typhus rate soaring. Other of our cities, most particularly Pittsburgh but in winter even Salt Lake City, are filthy and near asphyxiated with their own smoke. Most of the rivers that flow through our cities are more often than not excessively polluted. Yet these same cities, which must draw on these polluted streams for water, repollute them with their own sewage a little farther down, pollution which the next lower neighbor inherits.