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Declining? Far from it. Cities are hotter than ever before

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Dr. Gregory Smithsimon, an assistant professor in sociology at Barnard College, in New York City, had his students "lose" wallets around New York City. More than 80 percent were returned. (Justin Nobel/CNS)


William Whyte, a well-known sociologist who died in 1999, set up cameras over busy Midtown Manhattan intersections in the 1970s in order to capture "schmoozing patterns." He found that conversations were more likely to occur along the busiest parts of the sidewalk. These two business men chat it up on a recent Friday afternoon on the corner of Park Avenue and 47th Street, in Midtown Manhattan. (Justin Nobel/CNS)

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Despite their reputation for crime and poverty, cities are attracting more people than ever before, and a group of urban sociologists and psychologists sees cities as the ideal laboratory for studying human interaction.