An urban problematic is identified by reference to the essential characteristics of cities as spatially polarized ensembles of human activity marked by high levels of internal symbiosis. The roots of the crisis of the classical industrial metropolis of the twentieth century are pinpointed, and the emergence of a new kind of urban economic dynamic over the 1980s and 1990s is discussed. I argue that this new dynamic is based in high degree upon the growth and spread of cognitive‐cultural production systems. Along with these developments have come radical transformations of urban space and social life, as well as major efforts on the part of many cities to assert a role for themselves as national and international cultural centers. This argument is the basis of what we might call the resurgent metropolis hypothesis. The effects of globalization are shown to play a critical role in the genesis and geography of urban resurgence. Three major policy dilemmas of resurgent cities are highlighted, namely, their internal institutional fragmentation, their increasing character as economic agents on the world stage and the concomitant importance of collective approaches to the construction of localized competitive advantage, and their deepening social disintegration and segmentation.