In the last generation, cities like New York, San Francisco and London were revitalized by the influx of the rich and glamorous and the price-driven expulsion of their working-class and poor residents. But the romance of early 21st-century megalopolitan life is gone for all but the hardiest bohemians. Yesterday’s buzzing hipster neighborhood is today’s simmering Petri dish.

If you are rich and you assume that future pandemics or variants of COVID-19 could sweep the world at any time, that house in the Hamptons may look better as a permanent residence than the overpriced sliver apartment in ultra-dense New York City, which to date has accounted for about a third of all US coronavirus deaths. You don’t share an air-conditioning system and elevator with neighbors, and there is room in the garage for an extra freezer stocked with emergency supplies and a small arsenal for dealing with plague-mutated zombies.


Michael Lind writes in “Back to the Future:”


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