50 Urban Quotes For Redefining Definitions

Learn more about the origins of cities and how the definition of words can change with our urban quotes.

Urban city centers are nothing new on planet Earth, but just how far back do they go?

Learn more about this interesting history with our urban quotes.

When you hear the word urban, what does it conjure in your mind’s eye?

For some, the word urban refers to anything relating to or characteristic of city life. 

For others, the word urban can mean anything connected to African American culture in the United States. 

Check out these interesting facts about urban life:

  • An urban area is the opposite of a rural area. 
  • Factory, technology, or office work are more common in urban areas. 
  • Living and working closely together, large buildings and public transportation are all hallmarks of urban life. 

What does urban mean?

Urban has become a strange word. 

Like many things, the idea of something being urban is multi-dimensional. 

It could describe a place or style of dwelling, or it could even be a mindset. 

One of the best-known of Aesop’s fables is The Country Mouse and The City Mouse

In this story, the City Mouse had a city mindset. 

She did not care for the Country Mouse’s simple foods, nor could she appreciate the natural home the rural mouse lived in. 

When the two mice visit the city, The Country Mouse is almost killed by a dog and cat and realizes her life in the country suits her more. 

The fable gives us a glimpse of what urban means. 

Urban settings are called concrete jungles because, despite the presence of flora or fauna, the untamed primal energy of competition consumes the population. 

The word urban has changed over time

Many words transform or evolve. 

Take the word naughty, for example:

Initially, the word naughty referred to somebody who was in a state of lack; naughty meant you had naught or nothing. 

Today, if someone is being naughty, it means they are misbehaving, evil or immoral. 

Urban has changed from referring to a city environment to referring to the culture that comes from city environments. 

Read plainly, for many in the United States, urban means African American. 

The United States has its own colloquialisms and politically correct language words we use. 

Although millions of diverse people live in cities, we still use the word urban to describe African American culture. 

If you don’t believe me, just check your favorite streaming service. 

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How many times has Urban Comedy come up as a suggestion?

Many of the movies that come up are set in suburbs or even the country, yet they are still labeled urban.

The world is full of interesting paradoxes. 

To learn more, check out our urban quotes below. 

Short urban quotes about life in the city

Let’s start with these short and sweet urban quotes. 

1. “There’s something about urban life.” — Dani Shapiro

2. “The environmental damage of urban sprawl cannot be ignored.” — Minoru Mori

3. “Bringing nature back into the city is a way to deal with urban sprawl.” — Stone Gossard

4. “Urbanism is the most advanced, concrete fulfillment of a nightmare.” — Tom McDonough

5. “In urbanization, you think big because you are thinking decades ahead.” — Kushal Pal Singh

6. “Urbanism works when it creates a journey as desirable as the destination.” — Paul Goldberger

7. “Urbanization is putting a lot of stress on already depleting city’s resources.” — Rinkesh Kukeja

8. “Urbanization in India is a slow but sure death for her villages and villagers.” Mahatma Gandhi

9. “The disadvantages of a decentralized, spread-out urban area are tremendous.” — Minoru Mori

10. “In an urban area, you’re not going to be an hour away from another post office.” — Blake Farenthold

The top urban quotes about the impacts of urbanization

These quotes help question the larger implications of urbanization.

11. “Will urban sprawl spread so far that most people lose all touch with nature?” — Frank N. Ikard

12. “If it was not for Rajiv Gandhi, urbanization in India would have been history.” — Kushal Pal Singh

13. “The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources.”— David Harvey

14. [Urbanization] might prove inadequate for the people migrating from rural to urban areas.” — Rinkesh Kukeja

15. “Urbanization is not about simply increasing the number of urban residents or expanding the area of cities.” — Li Keqiang

16. “We need more insurgency in the city in order to break unsustainable and privatizing patterns of urban development.” — Jeffrey Hou

17. “The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.” — David Harvey

18. “The slurbs, urban sprawl, and the infinite number of housing developments of the postwar boom have contributed to the architecture of entropy.” — Robert Smithson

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19. “More importantly, it’s about a complete change from rural to urban style in terms of industry structure, employment, living environment, and social security.” — Li Keqiang

20. “History shows that male homosexuality, which like prostitution flourishes with urbanization and soon becomes predictably ritualized, always tends toward decadence.” — Camille Paglia

The best urban quotes about losing our natural environments

These quotes remind us that covering the planet in cities is not good for our long-term survival. 

21. “All urbanization, pushed beyond a certain point, automatically becomes suburbanization.” Aldous Huxley

22. “The keywords of violent economics are urbanization, industrialization, centralization, efficiency, quantity, speed.” — E. F. Schumacher

23. “Dams, deforestation, and urbanization can alter water cycles and wind patterns, occasionally triggering droughts or even creating deserts.” — Jamais Cascio

24. “Urbanization has lured more people to bustling metropolises, but precious little thought has been given to what happens when these cities fail.” — Ben Paynter

25. “The developments in the North were those loosely embraced in the term modernization and included urbanization, industrialization, and mechanization.” — C. Vann Woodward

26. “Re-imagine our interconnected infrastructure systems to make them more efficient, environmentally safe, and resilient in this age of global urbanization.” — Felix Rohatyn

27. “There are more effective ways of tackling environmental problems;  including global warming, proliferation of plastics, urban sprawl, and the loss of biodiversity.” — Preston Manning

28. “You might declare that global warming and energy insecurity, not to mention urban sprawl and pollution, have intensified the sin of indulging one’s motoring desires.” — Joel Achenbach

29. “It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization.” — David Harvey

30. “Unlike the urban development that I see taking over and swallowing up our precious soil when we interact with our environment in a way that allows for regeneration and natural spaces, the outcome can be beautiful.” — Cory Trepanier

Urban quotes and sayings for a safer world

Some urban advocates believe city life is the best thing for Earth. 

31. “Safer cities generally mean stronger urban economies.” — Roger Altman

32. “In an urban environment, a church building is a thing of the past.” — Mark Batterson

33. “Streets moderate the form and structure and comfort of urban communities.” —Allan Jacobs

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34. “America’s last pioneers, urban nomads in search of wide open interior spaces” — Cathleen McGuigan

35. “I’m a kid from New York, so urban life reflected in art and music was around me and accessible and tangible.” — Zoe Saldana

36. “One side effect of urbanization is the liberation of vast depopulated territories for the efficient production of nature.” — Bruce Mau

37. “Urban legend has it that Area 51 is connected by underground tunnels and trains to other secret facilities around the country.” —Annie Jacobse

38. “Ultimately, we need to recognize that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with other species.” — David Suzuki

39. “Urban residents, most of them middle class, have a much better sense of their environmental rights, and they’re willing to take to the streets.” — Ma Jun

40. “Urbanization, one of humankind’s most successful and ambitious programs, is the triumph of the unnatural over the natural, the grid over the organic.” — Bruce Mau

Famous urban quotes from brilliant minds

We close our list with these urban quotes from a diverse group of people. 

41. “The urban man is an uprooted tree.” — Juan Ramon Jimenez

42. “An urban novelist never minds a little decay.” — Jane Smiley

43. “Infrastructure deficit is an issue in all urban areas.” — Sharad Pawar

44. “Everyone’s looking to the urban scene for inspiration now.” — Robin Gibb

45. “The world grows ever complex. More urban. Less peaceful.” — Fennel Hudson

46. “In urban life especially, there is too much to see, hear and smell.” — Carole Katchen

47. “To give everyone a house and garden is very difficult in urban areas.” — Jeremy Corbyn

48. “We need above all, I think, a certain remoteness from urban confusion.” — Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

49. “This is a pivotal time for urban regeneration. We must take a long-term view.” — Richard Rogers

50. “I have an urban background, but I need melody, I need a song, so I try to mix and match and keep it fluid.” — Negash Ali

Will the meaning of urban change again?

What is next for the word urban?

Maybe it will refer to something completely different in the future, like a style of socks or something like that. 

How do you think the word urban might change over time?

Be sure to let us know in the comments. 

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