After many years in which the everyday concerns of life — crime, graffiti, squeegee men, crowded schools, and the like — dominated the attention of city government, New York is again looking toward its distant future. From the World Trade Center site to the Far West Side to the Brooklyn waterfront, government agencies are offering redevelopment plans that envision new centers of business and cultural activity. Ambitious infrastructure projects, like the extension of the #7 line, the Second Avenue subway, and East Side and Downtown commuter rail access are being actively pursued. Even new parks and open spaces, winding over busy streets or along abandoned waterfronts, are in the works.

Behind those plans, however, lurk important questions that usually go unasked. Those questions relate to the number of jobs and people a city of 322 square miles can support, the distribution of the social classes and their relation to one another, and the city’s relationship to the rest of the region.

“Growth” is the mantra with which virtually all public development projects are justified. But what does growth mean in a dense, built-out city like ours? And do New Yorkers agree on the type of growth they want? In boomtown cities like Phoenix or Las Vegas, growth is easy to define. Greater population, more jobs, more development and rising real estate values will promote wealth creation and make most of the existing population better off. But several of America’s more mature, fully developed cities must view the issues in a different light. Residents of San Francisco, Boston or New York may well ask what types of growth will enhance the quality of life and what types will undermine it.

Click here (pdf) to read more about the types of growth New York should encourage a prosperous and thriving city.