Forming the conclusion to the special issue, this paper begins with a critical engagement with a recent robust, informed, nuanced and eloquent claim by two leading scholars in the field that strategies for a cultural economy are central to the notion of the creative city. The paper suggests that seeking to support the intrinsic value of the cultural economy does introduce a crucial aspect to any progressive urban cultural policy - but that this is not sufficient. The paper suggests the idea of the creative city is not no longer available as a progressive urban cultural policy and that a cultural economy approach on its own does not rectify this.The paper suggests that the more recent origins of the creative city discourse were dependent on much older notions of the good city but that these have been progressively reduced to their economic dimensions. The paper concludes by showing how these older discourses went beyond the purely economic in ways the creative city now finds difficult to capture. A new way of talking about the aspirations towards the good city now need to be found.