What will make cities livable as millions more move to them?

We sent journalists around the globe to study cities’ plans, flaws, innovations—even their rats—for a National Geographic special report.

In 1925 Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect and pioneer of modernism, suggested razing the homes, statues, and streets of much of Paris’s Right Bank. In their place, he proposed erecting 18 identical glass towers some 650 feet high, a quarter of a mile apart, divided by lawns for pedestrians and elevated highways for cars.

Le Corbusier contended that “lovers of antiques” and progressive thinkers were at war about how humans should live. A quote attributed to him leaves no doubt as to which side he was on: “Progress is achieved through experimentation; the decision will be awarded on the field of battle of the ‘new.’ ’’

This battle has long raged in and about cities, which are thought to have first formed some 6,000 years ago in what is now Iraq. We question how best to live en masse, how to coexist. The answers change with our need for security, with passing fad and fancy, and with advances in technology.

Read This Next

Zapping: The boisterous protest tactic that ignited early LGBTQ activism

Appalachia's wild rat is mysteriously disappearing—but the pandemic offered hope

There’s a new ocean now—can you name all 5?

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet