The Next American City is best when it sticks to the OKC [Oklahoma City] story. Mayor Cornett is a compelling character. It is hard not to like someone who transitioned from a popular local sportscaster and news anchor to the Mayor’s office. The book is less strong once Cornett leaves OKC to try to discover other medium-sized cities that have survived deindustrialization to emerge as viable 21st-century creative class destinations. As a lifelong OKC resident, Cornett has a feel for how his city works. He knows everybody. His tells some good stories. Lacking that sort of insider knowledge of places such as Indianapolis, Charlotte, Albuquerque, Charleston, Louisville, Sacramento, Buffalo, or Des Moines, Cornett is unable to provide much in the way of convincing analysis or generalizable lessons. What he does do is motivate us to know more about these mid-sized metropolitan success stories.
In the urban upswing of people-centered place making, Tulsa is going gangbusters in the 21st century, but OK City, much bigger and more challenged, has a more amazing story to tell—and Mr. Cornett tells it with wit, self-deprecation and generosity. He doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of his city’s reinvention, but he is obviously proud as all get-out ... Mr. Cornett is not claiming that middle-sized cities are threatening to depopulate New York or San Francisco. He affirms the importance of all cities pursuing their visions and dreams and building on their unique stories.
Four-term mayor of Oklahoma City, Cornett discusses how his hometown and other midsize cities have turned themselves around in recent years, alternating Oklahoma City's renewal with varied approaches taken by other successful metropolises ... This engaging book shares the author's enthusiasm for the rebirth of midsized cities. It will appeal to planners and residents of such areas.