America's Urban Future (Paperback)

Lessons from North of the Border

By Ray Tomalty, Alan Mallach

Island Press, 9781610915960, 312pp.

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

List Price: 40.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The headlines about cities celebrating their resurgence—with empty nesters and Millennials alike investing in our urban areas, moving away from car dependence, and demanding walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods. But, in reality, these changes are taking place in a scattered and piecemeal fashion. While areas of a handful of cities are booming, most US metros continue to follow old patterns of central city decline and suburban sprawl. As demographic shifts change housing markets and climate change ushers in new ways of looking at settlement patterns, pressure for change in urban policy is growing. More and more policy makers are raising questions about the soundness of policies that squander our investment in urban housing, built environment, and infrastructure while continuing to support expansion of sprawling, auto-dependent development. Changing these policies is the central challenge facing US cities and metro regions, and those who manage them or plan their future.

In America’s Urban Future, urban experts Tomalty and Mallach examine US policy in the light of the Canadian experience, and use that experience as a starting point to generate specific policy recommendations. Their recommendations are designed to help the US further its urban revival, build more walkable, energy-efficient communities, and in particular, help land use adapt better to the needs of the aging population. Tomalty and Mallach show how Canada, a country similar to the US in many respects, has fostered healthier urban centers and more energy- and resource-efficient suburban growth. They call for a rethinking of US public policies across those areas and look closely at what may be achievable at federal, state, and local levels in light of both the constraints and opportunities inherent in today’s political systems and economic realities.

About the Author

Ray Tomalty is principal of Smart Cities Research Services, a research consultancy specializing in urban sustainability. He is an adjunct professor at McGill University's School of Urban Planning and sits on the editorial board of Alternatives Journal. Alan Mallach is a senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress in Washington, DC. He has served as director of housing and economic development for Trenton, N.J. as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Praise For America's Urban Future: Lessons from North of the Border

"This book offers a near-perfect pair of authors to compare U.S. and Canadian planning and urban policy outcomes... It is hard to argue with evidence presented by Tomalty and Mallach."

"Small countries like Canada and Australia went all the way with American car dependence and now we are fighting back. There are a few things for the stars-and-stripes’ cities to learn, presented clearly in this book."

— Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute

"In America's Urban Future, Tomalty and Mallach make a well articulated case that if US cities want to get serious about livability and environmental sustainability, they have a lot to learn from Canadian ones. Canadians or Americans alike should read America's Urban Future, especially if you care about urban sustainability and livability, could use a primer on current research into how both are measured, or just want to help make your city or region a better place."

"In the face of super-sized challenges, many U.S. communities are working to propel more sustainable and inclusive patterns of growth and development. In this timely book, Tomalty and Mallach show how Canada offers tangible lessons for improving metro governance, promoting urban reinvestment and suburban renewal, and expanding transport options and social mobility. A sharp reminder that smart solutions can be found right across the border."

— Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution vice president and co-author of "The Metropolitan Revolution"