shrewdly, with an eye to practical economics.rnThe fact remained, however,rnthat even if there were no economicrnneed in a given location, cultural and administrativernexigency might force an urbanrnfoundation. Thus it was that fromrnthe beginning, man- Roman cities, especialK’rnin the Western portion of the Empire,rnmay well have been economicrnfreeloaders.rnCitv governments began to developrncurious deficiencies in the area of managerialrnand administrative expertise.rnTowns would go head over heels in debt.rnMonies were lavished on various projects,rnonly to find that funds ran outrnwhen construction was only halffinished.rnBy the second century, the imperialrngovernment stepped in to clean up thernmess. The imperial treasury frequentlyrnbailed out municipalities, the result beingrnthat once a municipalitv had receivedrnone or two shots in the arm, it becamernaddicted—hooked on “fixes” fromrnthe central government.rnDon’t we hear many of the same argumentsrnnow? Granted that New York Citvrn(or Cleveland or St, Louis) has lost mostrnof its factories to the Sunbelt, Japan,rnMexico, or to the very hinterland that itrnwas servicing 75 vears ago. The big storesrnhave moved to colossal shopping malls inrnthe suburbs. The middle classes are alsornleaving as their white-collar jobs followrnthe factories or move to suburban offices.rnNow that middle-income citizensrnand the businesses that pay most of therntaxes are in the suburbs or even furtherrnout, they understandably resist higherrnyou have friends orrnrelatives who may enjoyrnChronicles,rnplease send us their namesrnand addresses.We would bernpleased to send them arncomplimentaryrnissuerntaxes for urban subsidies and even morernunderstandably resist mergers betweenrncity and suburban governments becausernthese are subsidies in disguise.rnAlso, urban governments have an oftenrndeserved reputation for incompetencernand corruption. The city’s populationrngenerally comprises two groups: arnsmall, wealthy elite and a growing “underclass,”rncharacterized by illegitimaternchildren growing up in fatherless households,rnliving in crime-infested slums, andrnsubsisting on government assistance.rnOne of five inhabitants is on the dole.rnBoth the urban elite and the underclassrntend to support the notion of the city asrnan administrative, ceremonial, and culturalrncenter. The elite value the economicallyrnunproductive and frequentlyrntax-e-xempt theaters, concert halls, galleries,rnand libraries springing up like multicoloredrnfungi in the rotting urban core.rnThe underclass want continuance of therngovernment subsidies which form theirrnprincipal means of subsistence. Everrnmore intrusive federal, state, county, andrnlocal governments rear mighty edificesrnsymbolic of their growing dominance.rnBut these structures yield no more taxesrnthan do the museums of the gentry orrnthe state-funded housing of the underclass.rnUnable to generate enough in taxesrnto keep itself going, the city teeters onrnthe edge of bankruptcy, and becomes arnpermanent drain on the resources of thernstate and federal goN-ernments. But ifrnNew York City disappeared, where wouldrnwe put the Metropolitan Museumrnof Art? The Eifth Avenue Library?rnCarnegie (or Severance) Hall? And whoeverrnheard of holding Macy’s ThanksgivingrnDay Parade in a shopping center?rnOne innovation of the new social historyrn(I went on to my class) is the studyrnof how space is used. A major differencernbetween the ancient and the medievalrncity is the shrinkage of public, and therngrowth of private, space. Roman cities,rnin particular, remind us of modern urbanrncenters with their relatively wide streetsrnlaid out in a cheeked^oard pattern, theirrnspacious public squares and forums, andrntheir public conveniences: libraries, theaters,rnbasilicas which contained courtsrnand other government offices, schools,rnand, above all, the great Roman baths.rnThese realh functioned as communityrncenters with exercise and massage rooms,rnlecture halls, and other accommodationsrnin addition to the hot and cold swimmingrnpools that formed the nucleus ofrnthe complex. But the medieval town, insidernits restricted walls (fortifications arernexpensive to build), with its narrow,rnwinding, haphazard streets, and lack ofrnpublic space (typically only for churchesrnor a cathedral with perhaps a smallrnsquare or piazza in front of it) strikes usrnas close and dirty. We deplore how therninhabitants of medieval towns oftenrnwalled in theaters and turned old Romanrnpublic buildings into private spaces: arcadesrnfor small shops, residences, and thernlike.rnMedievalists have examined lives ofrnsaints—a popular form of literature atrnthe time for the literate public—and discoveredrnthat most of the action takesrnplace indoors or in other private spaces.rnBy way of contrast, saints’ lives from laternantiquity are set mostly out of doors or inrnpublic spaces. Constantinople, thernlargest city in early medieval Europe,rnshrank in size from about 500,000 in A.D.rn600 to approximately half that by A.D.rn700. The reason? When the emperorrnConstantine had moved the capital ofrnthe Roman Empire there in the fourthrncentury, he had, in imitation of oldrnRome, instituted a dole for the poor. Forrnall his favoritism toward Christianity,rnConstantine’s urban policy was still firmlyrngrounded in pagan antiquity. But therndole was discontinued bv the emperorrnHeraclius 300 years later. Land vacatedrnby the unproductive urban poor wasrnturned to agricultural uses, and workingrnfarms grew within the city limits of Constantinople.rnWhile the remaining populationrnincluded bureaucrats and clergy,rnto be sure, it was largely made up of thernartisans, shopkeepers, and traders whorngenerated taxes. Medieval man realized,rnas the Romans had not, that cities mustrnpay their way.rnNo one wants a return to the crampedrnand squalid medieval town of yore. Butrnthe Metropolitan Arts Center and thernGlobal Caring and Sharing Boutique payrnno taxes. Worse yet, the shelter for batteredrnwomen and the AIDS clinic are notrnonly tax-exempt but they generally serverna population that pays no taxes. Perhapsrnour fixation on “the good life” hasrnusurped “the bare needs of life.” Wernmust insist that our urban centers pullrntheir own weight or, like Constantinoplernin the Middle Ages, shrink until they dornso. Those who will not learn from historyrnare condemned to repeat it.rnMartin Arbagi is an associate professorrnof history at Wright State Vniversity inrnDayton, Ohio.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn