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.
Meier contended that communications, and its relationship with knowledge and controls, “seemed to be highly correlated with the growth of cities.” He was not suggesting that communications were more important than economic factors, but that they were at the root of the process which made economic growth possible. For example, when innovations were conceived by a given person or group, usually the neighbors were the first to adopt such new ideas and procedures. As this process repeated itself, such communications foci would become the setting for intensive economic and cultural growth.