WHAT IS THE trouble with our cities today? Tristram Hunt thinks he knows the answer, and it has to do with the decline of the Victorian city. Unlike us, the Victorians cared passionately about -their cities. Then, cities were at the heart of public debate. They were exciting and frightening, dirty and beautiful, opulent and shabby - cities were the new and the future. How different from today, when the idea of the city conjures up a vision of deadbeat councillors, sleazy planning boards and litter. Where did it all go wrong?
We need a new book on the Victorian city, there's no doubt about that. Recent urban history is mind-numbingly dull - at best, sterile, technical works on housing policy or local government, at worst postmodernist discourse on gobbledegook topics such as 'spatial aneurism'. There has been no follow-up to the