Large or small, America's cities have had a perennially difficult time generating admiration, respect, or understanding. By the late 1980s, Americans faced jarring realities as nearly two-thirds of black children being born to unwed mothers. Architectural gems or bad jokes, they all stood as evidence of the rebirth of confidence in the American city. During the 1980s, American downtowns, from Boston and Baltimore to Chicago and Minneapolis, experienced the biggest, most concentrated building booms of their history. Architects such as Phillip Johnson and Helmut Jahn took their place on the American landscape side by side with Mies van der Rohe and Louis Sullivan, a new generation of urban designers for a new era of downtown building. American public costs, even for the most elementary social services, were sure to soar- not to mention expenditures for prisons, which were already skyrocketing.