Call it a “cultural building boom.”

According to a study published by Elizabeth Strom, a political scientist at Rutgers University-Newark, in the September 2002 issue of Urban Affairs Review, 34 of the largest U.S. cities have undertaken 71 major projects to build or renovate downtown cultural institutions since 1985. Cities are constructing or refurbishing art museums, performing arts centers, and symphony halls with seeming abandon.

And it’s not just happening in cultural centers like New...

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