Can Our Cities Actually Die?

ArtStation - RAGE Dead City detail

Archaeology is full of once-great cities that are no more. Babylon, Nineveh, Hazor, Hattusa, the Indus Valley cities, of whom even the name has been forgotten–multitudes of people used to live there. They are dead cities now: most of them purposely destroyed by enemy armies, some of them wiped out by natural disasters.

But are there any cities that just plain up and died? Because life there became insupportable, thanks to crime, political corruption, insane economic policies, or some form of mania?

I’m wondering about some of our cities. San Francisco and Los Angeles. Chicago. Detroit. Gary, IN. Camden, NJ. People are leaving–I mean, really, who would choose to stay in Portland, OR?

There is no authority to make people stay where they are. It would have to be invented. Liberals are easily capable of that. But for the time being, people are packing up in droves and fleeing our worst cities. And I wonder: might a few of those cities actually and literally die? Like, if enough people simply say “I won’t live this way no more!” and vote with their feet.

There’s evidence that some of the ancient Mayan cities died because their people just got up and went. They didn’t appreciate being ruled by warmongering tyrants with a taste for large-scale human sacrifice. The Mayan people are still here, but their cities are not.

What do we do with an uninhabited shell of San Francisco? Bulldoze the ruins and rebuild? Always presuming the site doesn’t have a curse on it.

Our cities are in trouble. The trouble is created by the cities’ own authorities. (Can you say Alvin Bragg? Just to name one of many.) We can’t save the cities and still keep those corrupt authorities in power. One or the other has to go.