Cities have long suffered from a perception problem, a problem that still exists in many cities today.  The perception has been of overcrowded, polluted, crime-ridden places with poor schools thus affirming the beliefs of those who fled the cities decades ago in search of greener pastures.  But as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, are those perceptions finally changing for the better?

Many urbanists believe the change began in the 1990’s with hit television shows like Seinfeld, Sex and the City, and Friends that glamorized city living.  Today, even the casual television observer can not avoid the pro-city imagery portrayed in virtually every single product type commercial.  The effect is even more profound in television shows and movies where young people, families and elderly alike are often portrayed in city atmospheres.

In this 2009 commercial for Nissan Cube, the ad is trying to appeal to young professionals and does so with a catchy, urban spot.  The young people in this commercial not only are out partying in the city, but they pick up their grocery needs and head to a house party all with an urban focus.

But living and partying in the city is not necessarily the challenge American cities are facing today.  Instead cities are looking to incorporate transit options like streetcars, commuter rail, and high-speed rail to better connect the people living with urban areas with one another.  Until now, this has been topic left untouched by mainstream commercial media outside of the movie industry.

AT&T is currently running a television commercial that features a love story in reverse that was all made possible by an impromptu train ticket purchase on the man’s smart phone.

This is important because the brief love story is made up of all relatable acts – going to the movies, getting married, having a child and that child presumably achieving success – all dependent on the train ride where love first blossomed.

As trains become more prevalent across the United States, this imagery is certain to become more common.  If you have yet to notice this trend in commercial media, just look around.  Cars, telephones, food/drink, fashion, and even credit cards are all banking on the trend back towards the city, and by the looks of it, it appears that the pendulum may soon be swinging the same way for rail transit as well.