Watch 1998 Barack Obama Discuss the Importance of Cities

Andrew Kaczynski/Video screen capture

We've all gotten used to to the 2011 version of Barack Obama, with his hair rapidly graying under the constant pressures of his office. But this CSPAN video from 1998, uploaded to YouTube by Andrew Kaczynski, reminds us of what the President looked like 13 years ago, and of what he thought about a recurring theme on TreeHugger- the importance of cities.

Speaking at a Brookings Institution panel on the revitalization of cities, Obama, the State Senator representing a Chicago district, doesn't put forward any radical, or even particularly green ideas, but he does focus on the plight of urban residents as suburban sprawl sucked jobs and wealth out of cities.

He mentions "continuing patterns of inequality" and discuses the need for better schools in inner cities to draw wealthier residents back in, as well as the "spacial mismatch" between thriving downtown business districts and unemployment in residential neighborhoods.

As the first urban president since 1881, Obama hasn't backed off his view that cities are the solution, not the problem. In 2008, he told United States Conference of Mayors:

Yes, we need to strengthen our cities. But we also need to stop seeing our cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution. Because strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America.

The densest city isn't necessarily the greenest one, but there's no question that when neighborhoods are walkable (ie not the suburbs), the environment is better off - and people are happier.

Via Dr. Pratik Mhatre's Urban Planning Blog.

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Tags: Cities | Urban Life | Urban Planning | video