With its 3D terrain and crisp, clear sprite-art buildings, SimCity 4 is one of the most popular city-building games ever. But it's not for the casual player - getting your cities running smoothly requires a lot of micromanagement, and mistakes can be costly.
Buildings in your city can only level up to their maximum capacity if all of their basic needs are met, such as electricity, water, and sewage. In addition, high-density zones (residential, commercial, and office) must be at their maximum level before they can grow to accommodate skyscrapers. To get these zones to max out, you'll need to increase their land value and provide services like parks and hospitals.
Once you've got the basics in place, you can start working on the big stuff like traffic and rail. You'll want to have good road networks so that your citizens can travel from their homes to work and back again. Freeways are a great option for long distances, while streets and avenues will serve well for shorter trips. You can also build rail and passenger stations to improve public transportation in your city.
If you find that your residential demand is low despite having a healthy economy and plenty of jobs, it's likely that you hit a cap on housing. To alleviate this, you can build parks and recreation buildings to raise desirability or increase your taxes, although if you raise them too high, Sims will move to another city.