In his 1973 book, Close-Up: How To Read the American City, Clay proposed abandoning the cherished but misguided notion that the traditional American city was a bastion of stability, and that it was under threat from sinister new forces of decentralization and decay. Instead, he proposed that cities are by their very nature fluid in design and function. Rather than looking for ideal settings, Americans should instead see the underlying patterns of activity and settlement over time.