Centre for Liveable Cities, Urban Solutions, July 2018
Underlying the extraordinary complexity and diversity of cities is an approximate simplicity. As a city increases in size, all of its various socioeconomic metrics scale in the same way no matter where you are on the planet. Through analysing data from thousands of cities in different countries, I found that when the size of a city doubles, there is an approximate 15% increase in its socioeconomic outcomes—from income, wealth and number of patents, to crime rate and number of flu cases. This scaling law is valid across the globe, although cities have evolved independently.
To watch Geoffrey West’s 2011 TED Talk click here.
Our cities have become small little areas of concentrated wealth and advantage for the global super rich, for knowledge workers, for the members of my own creative class. It’s not just the 1%, it’s about a third of us who can make a go, but then the other two thirds, falling further and further behind and surrounding these areas of concentrated advantage much larger spans of concentrated disadvantage, and those are not only in the city, what’s so interesting about The New Urban Crisis, that’s spread out to what we used to think of as the great affluent suburbs, so it really is a new geographic divide in our society, and that divide is not only causing inequality it’s causing this terrible backlash.
To visit Richard Florida’s website click here, for an article from The Guardian about his previous thesis on The Creative Class and it’s relationship to The New Urban Crisis click here, and for a longer discussion of The New Urban Crisis with the LSE Cities Ricky Burdett click here.
Cities don’t make people poor; they attract poor people. The flow of less advantaged people into cities from Rio to Rotterdam demonstrates urban strength, not weakness.
Edward Glaeser, economist
Cities in many ways are the greatest invention that human beings have brought to the world.
Geoffrey West, theoretical physicist
The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.
Jane Jacobs, journalist
The most important social transformations of the last 250-odd years have been born, anchored and realised in urban areas.
Cities, the dense agglomerations that dot the globe, have been engines of innovation since Plato and Socrates bickered in an Athenian marketplace. The streets of Florence gave us the Renaissance, and the streets of Birmingham gave us the Industrial Revolution. The great prosperity of contemporary London and Bangalore and Tokyo comes from their ability to produce new thinking. Wandering these cities—whether down cobblestone sidewalks or grid-cutting cross streets, around roundabouts or under freeways—is to study nothing less than human progress.
For a talk by Edward Glaeser at UC San Diego summarising this book click here. For a discussion of Glaeser’s work on eliminating barriers to innovation for food trucks by The Urbanist, Alan Davies click here.