This is a photo of polluted, barely liveable Shanghai, which I visited recently.  William Duggan, (author of Strategic Intuition) wrote me this note:   “What makes NY great?   Fifty years ago you would have said, ‘skyscrapers.’  NY had more of them than any other city in the world, and that made New York stand head and shoulders above the others.  Today, that answer is completely out of date.  Dozens of cities have more skyscrapers than NY, especially in Asia:  Shanghai is the new world leader.

So what makes NY stand out now?   Our historic districts.  We have more of them than any city in the country, and around the world only a few great cities of Europe – London, Paris, Rome – have more.

What makes a city stand out has changed:  most cities tear down their historic districts to build ever more skyscrapers, and they end up looking all the same.  Meanwhile, the great cities protect their historic districts and create skyscraper districts separate from them – like London, Paris, Rome. NY is at a crossroads.  Do we want to be like Shanghai, or like London, Paris, Rome?”