For example, privacy becomes a major concern when millions of people are “piled upon one another.” But Jefferson and the founders were not particularly concerned about privacy. They foresaw a minimalist government, electronic databases didn’t exist, and society was relatively dispersed. In fact, for all of its wonderful provisions intended to preserve individual liberties, the US Constitution has no explicit guarantee of individual privacy—it was essentially a nonissue in the United States in 1787. But it is a burning issue today and going forward. George recognized this.
The population and resource density of cities make them target-rich environments for those who would seek to inflict harm on others. The consequences of modern warfare for cities become incomprehensible whether we’re talking about nuclear weapons or cyber attacks. One of the reasons George embraced his role as international secretary for the National Academy of Engineering was his belief that individuals coming together shed their differences when working for a common goal.
Although George the realist was aware of these and other potential threats, he never lost his optimism. He was confident of this country’s ability to confront and resolve conflicts arising from competition between individual liberties and collective needs in an urban environment on the one hand, and the vulnerability of cities to hostile threats of many varieties on the other. He remained a believer in the utopian view of cities of the future, and it is our honor to dedicate this symposium and its proceedings to his memory.