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Editor’s Note: This article was the first published in the June 2008 World Cities Summit edition of ETHOS .

At the dawn of a new century, broad demographic, economic and environmental forces are giving American cities their best chance in decades to thrive and prosper. The renewed relevance of cities derives in part from the very physical characteristics that distinguish cities from other forms of human settlement: density, diversity of uses and functions, and distinctive design.

Across the United States (U.S.), a broad cross section of urban practitioners—private investors and developers, government officials, community and civic leaders—are taking ambitious steps to leverage the distinctive physical assets of cities and maximise their economic, fiscal, environmental and social potential.

A special class of urban interventions—what we call “transformative investments”—is emerging from the millions of transactions that occur in cities every year. The hallmark of transformative investments is their catalytic nature and seismic impact on markets, on people, on the city landscape and urban possibilities—far beyond the geographic confines of the project itself.

Recognising and replicating the magic of transformative investments, and making the exception become the norm is important if U.S. cities are to realise their full potential.

THE URBAN MOMENT The U.S. is undergoing a period of dynamic change, comparable in scale and complexity to the latter part of the nineteenth century. Against this backdrop, there is a resurgence in the importance of cities due to their fundamental and distinctive physical attributes.

Cities offer a broad range of physical choices—in neighbourhoods, housing stock, shopping venues, green spaces and transportation. These choices suit the disparate preferences of a growing population that is diverse by race, ethnicity and age.

Cities are also rich with physical amenities—mixed-use downtowns, historic buildings, campuses of higher learning, entertainment districts, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods, adjoining rivers and lakes—that are uniquely aligned with preferences in a knowledge-oriented, post-industrial economy. A knowledge economy places the highest premium on attracting and retaining educated workers, and an increasing proportion of these workers, particularly young workers, value urban quality of life when making their residential and employment decisions.

Finally, cities, particularly those built in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are compactly constructed and laid out along dense lines and grids, enhancing the potential for the dynamic, random, face-to-face human exchange prized by an economy fuelled by ideas and innovation. Such density also makes cities perfect agents for the efficient delivery of public services as well as the stewardship of the natural environment.

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Whether you’re looking for an adventure or you simply love to visit new places, Osaka is one city that should be at the top of your list. While most people would pick Europe as their destination of choice, Japan is just as beautiful and lovely . Plus, you’ll have no issue finding a comfortable place to rest your head each night, with all of the easily accessible KENDALL KYLIE Boots free shipping classic clearance new styles best for sale 81ylCM0u
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Image via Flickr by Pedro Szekely

Here are the top five things to add to your Osaka itinerary:

1. Dotonbori

Dubbed as the Times Square of Japan, Dotonbori has a string of restaurants that you will love having the opportunity to try. Being a stranger in a foreign land is not easy, so it would be best to plan out where you’d like to eat ahead of time. This is one stop you’ll want to put at the top of your list.

2. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

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houses many species of ocean life from the Pacific Ocean. The site is extensive, taking a circular path that provides stunning, up-close views of whale sharks and other magnificent creatures of the deep.

3. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

See all of Osaka at the top of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Riding this will really take your appreciation of Japan to new heights. From 112 meters up, the Tempozan has an amazing view of the suspension bridge and the Osaka Bay. The best time to try ride the ferris wheel is at dusk so you can experience the sunset while waiting for the city lights to come on. There is also an option to ride in a glass bottom carriage that will make you feel like you’re floating on air, but the line for this can run pretty long. You should opt for the traditional carriage if you want to avoid a wait.

4. Osaka Full-Day Tour with River Cruise

This tour is a six-hour guided experience that includes lunch and a river cruise. You’ll see Osaka’s most Instagram-worthy landmarks, including the Floating Garden Observatory and the Osaka Castle. You’ll also get a chance to visit the Twin Towers City Hall. Luckily, the package includes entrance fees for all of the stops on the tour.

5. National Bunraku Theater

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. It traces its roots back to the 18th to 19th centuries, and it’s amazing how Osaka has been able to maintain the art. It also houses surprisingly large puppets that are half the size of an average human. If you chooseto stay for an elaborate puppetry performance, you may want to make some room in your schedule, as the show can last for up to about four hours.

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