There’s a sense in some quarters – even among some urbanists themselves – that urbanism is a niche, technocratic interest. I feel very strongly that this is not, in fact, the case, and that urban policy is central to American life both culturally and politically. Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his series of posts on Family Properties and Making the Second Ghetto, among others, is one writer who expresses that idea very well.

On Sunday, I got another reminder about all that when I opened up Toni Morrison’s novel Sula on my way back to Chicago from St. Louis. This is the first page: