Are Texas’ big cities headed for a dystopian future? An effort in Dallas aims to prevent that.

The urban core is long since complete. Omniplan has replaced I.M. Pei with the New Urbanism. Glass and steel beckons in the night. At street-level, a facsimile of Rodeo Drive sprouts glittering shops and restaurants. A 20-foot steel wall surrounds downtown and Uptown. With facial recognition and ubiquitous cameras scanning license plates, police enforce a 100 percent I.D. check. The story is the same in Houston. If you don’t belong here, your life is tenuous, not glamorous. Schools have practically collapsed. Only police helicopters light the skies over South Dallas.

Of course, this is a fictionalized account. But in the space of just five short years, Dallas, like Houston, Austin and now San Antonio, has rebuilt its urban center out of glass, steel and money. The Texas economic boom is etched in the skyscrapers. Yet Texas is also well on its way to a dystopian future. Latinas earn 44 cents on the dollar compared with other Texans, according to one study. Texas has greater income inequality than all but 13 states, according to another.

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