This is the clean and simple, inspirational image of cities that we like - and it's fantastic.
But in the London Observer, design writer and curator Dejan Sudjic offers a great reminder of some of the complicated and dirty casting that delivers this reality:
Cities are made by an extraordinary mix of do-gooders and bloody-minded obsessives, of cynical political operators and speculators.
They are shaped by the unintended consequences of the greedy and the self-interested, the dedicated and the occasional visionary.
The hole-in-one here is that cities are made by people - and (more than) occasionally mad ones at that.
Not just the real estate dealers in their sheepskin coats, or the shady, cynical operators in City Hall but also the total fanatics.
This is an image of some of the bloody-minded obsessives that I have been working with over the last few years on an urban renewal project in the U.K.
There are about ten people missing from the shot but this picture includes community leaders, an architect, a property developer, a former school cook and a janitor who won an Order of the British Empire - in part for her commitment to the cause.
Every town or city in the world has such a group.
Dejan calls them urban obsessives.
Doug Henton of Collaborative Economics has a positive, more romantic catch-all description of the cadre.
He calls them civic revolutionaries.