Rumours of the death of cities greatly exaggerated

Finn McRedmond: As we navigate the absence of city life, we are reminded of its worth

Cities are dead, haven’t you heard? The population of London could fall by 300,000 this year, according to PwC. And a recent poll found 40 per cent of city-dwelling Americans are considering a move to less populated areas. Youngsters have fled Dublin in favour of family homes across the island. Photograph: PA

Cities are dead, haven’t you heard? The population of London could fall by 300,000 this year, according to PwC. And a recent poll found 40 per cent of city-dwelling Americans are considering a move to less populated areas. Youngsters have fled Dublin in favour of family homes across the island. Photograph: PA

As the world is boarded up amid the worst stages of the pandemic, you may be forgiven for thinking it was a tone-deaf time to release Pretend It’s A City. Martin Scorsese’s Netflix series follows writer Fran Lebowitz around New York as she muses on the cultural history and social life of one of  the world’s great metropolises.

It was filmed in a pre-pandemic New York. And along with that come all the accoutrements of urban life we have been sorely lacking the past year: packed subways, thronged streets, tourists milling in the worst places the city has to offer, restaurants and bars filled with people unaware of the looming practices of lockdowns and social distancing.

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