PALLADIUM 14: Great Cities

PALLADIUM 14: Great Cities is now available to all Palladium members. Subscribe today to receive your copy of our summer 2024 print edition, featuring the most thought-provoking and forward-looking essays on the past, present, and future of the modern city. From the earliest ancient myths surrounding Sumerian cities to the contemporary need for us to reform and consolidate metropoles like San Francisco, this edition explores the central and unavoidable role cities play in politics, economics, culture, and technological progress.

What is the greatest city in the world? There are few questions more revealing of an era. Throughout the ages, there is a long list of credible contenders. Alexandria. Xi’an. Rome. Constantinople. Baghdad. London. Vienna. New York. When listed, these cities are immediately identifiable as the apexes of unique and different societies. As the mythos of these cities and others lives on today, it is wise to ask what the greatest city of our own polemicized age is.

Today, the United States is accepted as the greatest power in the world by both supporters and detractors. Yet there is no easy answer to what our greatest city is, or if it is even an American city at all. The world’s largest modern city is no longer Tokyo, but perhaps the urban megalopolis of southern China, stretching across Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and the settlements of nearly one hundred million people. New York shares the tarnished—but still gleaming—crown of global finance with London. San Francisco is the undisputed center of the U.S. tech sector and global AI progress, yet has grown infamous for social decay and city government dysfunction.

None of these answers are disappointing, since each carries a hypothesis regarding the nature of our unfolding 21st century world. At the same time, none of these answers are fully satisfying. How can it be that the world’s strongest military, economic, and technological power finds embarrassingly few entries on the list of greatest cities?

PALLADIUM 14: Great Cities is not just our analysis of the present and possible futures of the city, but another lens on the present and future of our civilization—for without cities, there is no civilization to speak of. Like all our print editions, PALLADIUM 14 is a luxury creation designed for aesthetic enjoyment and focused thinking. It is a gift for our members and not for sale. Become a Palladium member today to receive your copy.

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*All members also receive benefits of lower tiers. New subscribers will receive upcoming quarterly print editions. PALLADIUM 14: Great Cities ships internationally until September 21st. Our print publication is a quarterly newsletter that informs members about our public interest research, reporting, and analysis.


We Must Save San Francisco by Lea Degen. Despite its problems, San Francisco is the most open-minded and innovative city in the world. Reforming America’s vanguard city is a national imperative.

Midcentury Planners Demolished America’s Social Fabric by Anton Cebalo. The decline of American community life did not begin with the internet. Over the course of the mid-twentieth century, the country’s urban centers were bulldozed through to make room for freeways.

San Francisco’s Future Should Begin with a Land Value Tax by Matthew Downhour. Henry George foresaw San Francisco’s housing crisis. His solution is still the way forward: a bold developmentalist orientation, starting with a land value tax to incentivize denser building.

What No One Wants to Admit About Housing Politics by Siavash Tahan. Real estate development in California has been frozen for decades. A new coalition is emerging to break homeowner resistance. But dishonesty from both sides prevents the reconciliation of social fabric and development, jeopardizing the future of American cities.

Why Charter Cities Won’t Lead to Decentralized Government by Ash Milton. Advocates of decentralized government view charter cities as a way to route around slow, legacy governments, and usher in political and market liberalism. Reality tells a different story.

Everyone Is Moving to the Metropole by Adam Van Buskirk. As young people flock to the global cities to work, what happens to the rest of the world? A growing division between the aging world and the youthful world is taking shape.

It’s Time for Greater San Francisco by Evan Zimmerman. The San Francisco Bay Area is a major regional economy hindered by fragmented local governments. The answer is consolidation into Greater San Francisco.

The City Makes the Civilization by Samo Burja. City life has hazed us and regulated our lives since time immemorial. It is civilization that depends on cities, not the other way around.