America's cities: celebrated by poets, courted by politicians, castigated by social reformers. In their numbers and complexity they challenge comprehension. Why is urban America the way it is? Eric Monkkonen offers a fresh approach to the myths and the history of US urban development, giving us an unexpected and welcome sense of our urban origins. His historically anchored vision of our cities places topics of finance, housing, social mobility, transportation, crime, planning, and growth into a perspective which explains the present in terms of the past and ofers a point from which to plan for the future.