Public spaces have been one of the crucial components of cities for centuries. Since the early 1980s, public spaces have increasingly become subject to broad concern of the public sector, private sector and other segments of the society. Particularly under the influence of globalization and privatization policies, the resurgence of broad interest in public spaces has led to a significant improvement in the design and management qualities of contemporary public realms in cities through city-marketing and imaging programs and urban regeneration projects. The rising interest in the public spaces that were undermined, deteriorated and declined for a long time has brought about a considerable improvement in the qualities of public spaces and their effective operation in public life of post-industrial cities. Nevertheless, the public space literature has frequently hinted at the changing roles and features of the public spaces in post-industrial cities. This article aims to draw attention to the changing and evolving roles of public spaces in the post-industrial cities since the 1980s by reviewing the public space literature of the last thirty years. First, it defines the roles of public spaces in cities, and second, it explains in detail the reasons behind the increasing significance of public spaces since the 1980s. Third, the article describes new types of public spaces in the landscape of post-industrial cities, and their characteristics. Fourth, depicting the design and management features, it underlines the changes in the roles of public spaces of the post-industrial cities. In the conclusion, the article summarizes the key issues discussed in the article and seeks to give clues for urban planning and design practice.