You keep saying this, but you must know you're comparing apples and oranges.
1. Most of these cities you speak of are centuries old, developed organically and in many instances based their street system on life well before cars.
Minneapolis had 464k people living within its borders in 1930 (and over 500k post WWII), well before the advent of skyscrapers and broad-based car ownership. Yes, old cities evolved over centuries (they also burned down on occasion), but Minneapolis was quite built out by the time freeways were built. I'd say the 100 years or so of development without cars was quite a bit. Most American cities existed with significant size during the boom of rail, just as European cities did. And the high concentration of cities in the NE/Midwest (east of Chicago) would be as accessible by rail as mainland European cities are today.
2. There is nothing in London or Paris or Rome that is comparable to "downtown" Minneapolis. These cities now have tall buildings, but the commerce isn't centralized in them like it is here.
Yet the density of people and businesses at any point is still quite high relative to most American cities, without the need for the number and size of freeways we have in many cities. Also, La Defense is a pretty big concentration of skyscraper commerce.
I'm not at all suggesting that a U.S. downtown needs to have freeways running through them, but whether or not other cities have these highways is barely relevant to our situation.
The statement was made that world-class cities are maintaining/upgrading their urban freeways. I'm just countering that.