What do our cities say about us? What have we made them, and how ought they to be? How has our vision of the city evolved over time, and can we really influence change and effect improvements? In this vibrant cultural history of the city, Joseph Rykwert explores the great cities of the modern world, examining their fabric and assessing how successfully they have met the needs of their inhabitants. From the teeming city centres of the industrial revolution to the exclusive gated suburbs of the 21st century, from the Parisian boulevards of Haussmann to the 'green' architecture of Emilio Ambasz, Rykwert charts the complex story of the growth of the city, setting architectural development firmly within a political, economic, social, and cultural context. Drawing on examples from Brasilia to Islamabad, Shanghai to Houston, Rykwert presents a fascinating analysis of urban growth, arguing forcefully that as voters and consumers we need to consider the economic, social, and cultural implications of developments and demonstrate our resistance to them if necessary. The arguments over the future of the Ground Zero site in Manhattan encapsulate the conflicting demands of civic pride and public utility set against private gain that vie for dominance in the 21st century, and exemplify the choices that, as citizens, we must all eventually make.