City Journal Winter 2016

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Mario Polèse
Why Big Cities Matter More than Ever « Back to Story

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The author stated the obvious reasons why cities have been vibrant and important to progress. What he ignores of course is the fact that many cities in America are becoming quite undesirable places to live.

To say that Detroit was critical to the emergence of the automobile industry is fine, but to do that without mentioning the condition Detroit is in today seems a bit odd to say the least. It was the auto that made the suburbs possible and in fact preferable to most people.

I will never choose to reside in a large city for reasons that are too numerous to mention here.
By coincidence a British engineer called Robyn Lagrange has written a book on this subject. He proposes that rather than having a city centered on a location it should be a conduit between locations. This achieves the density requirement without the congestion. The book is called "Linear 1."
Very large cities may in fact be magnets for the ambitious, but it does not follow that they are nests for genius. Ambition is one thing; talent another. And real genius, especially of the literary and artistic brand, has not historically been dependent on the manic energy of megacities.

Shakespeare's London was a cozy place that would have fit into today's Dayton, Ohio. Emily Dickinson found the universe in her handsome, small town home. Wordsworth, O'Keefe, Flannery O'Connor, Picasso, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Elgar, Wallace Stevens, Faulkner and so many others show that enduring artistic wisdom is far more a product of the inner mind than the frictions of the supercity.
The article is fine but should mention that Jane Jacobs said all this 40 years ago in The Economy ob Cities
the articles are of good quality and very useful for learning.

Long, but very interesting
Its premature to say that the ICT driven changes haven't happened. In reality they haven't happened yet. There's always a time lag between the hype about step change and its delivery. Its almost always a more gradual process. I work in a city and live in the country. I don't work from home nearly as often as I could because my maximum broadband speed is 1mb and in reality it never gets close to that. When Europe and the US get to the kind of speeds that South Korea is currently investing in, then I think cities will come under more pressure as certain kinds of wealth generators leave. Again it will be gradual. It might be 100 years before we can really identify the point when ICT began to change cities.
I think this is an excellent and easy-to-grasp summary of the research frontier in this field of research. Perhaps the demand for variety in consumption should also have been mentioned as a factor favoring big cities. But it is perhaps implicitly included in pillar seven - the buzz and bright lights.