Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier

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by Edward Glaeser
     
 

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A pioneering urban economist offers fascinating, even inspiring proof that the city is humanity's greatest invention and our best hope for the future.

America is an urban nation. More than two thirds of us live on the 3 percent of land that contains our cities. Yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime ridden, expensive,

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Overview

A pioneering urban economist offers fascinating, even inspiring proof that the city is humanity's greatest invention and our best hope for the future.

America is an urban nation. More than two thirds of us live on the 3 percent of land that contains our cities. Yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime ridden, expensive, environmentally unfriendly... Or are they?

As Edward Glaeser proves in this myth-shattering book, cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live. New Yorkers, for instance, live longer than other Americans; heart disease and cancer rates are lower in Gotham than in the nation as a whole. More than half of America's income is earned in twenty-two metropolitan areas. And city dwellers use, on average, 40 percent less energy than suburbanites.

Glaeser travels through history and around the globe to reveal the hidden workings of cities and how they bring out the best in humankind. Even the worst cities-Kinshasa, Kolkata, Lagos- confer surprising benefits on the people who flock to them, including better health and more jobs than the rural areas that surround them. Glaeser visits Bangalore and Silicon Valley, whose strangely similar histories prove how essential education is to urban success and how new technology actually encourages people to gather together physically. He discovers why Detroit is dying while other old industrial cities-Chicago, Boston, New York-thrive. He investigates why a new house costs 350 percent more in Los Angeles than in Houston, even though building costs are only 25 percent higher in L.A. He pinpoints the single factor that most influences urban growth-January temperatures-and explains how certain chilly cities manage to defy that link. He explains how West Coast environmentalists have harmed the environment, and how struggling cities from Youngstown to New Orleans can "shrink to greatness." And he exposes the dangerous anti-urban political bias that is harming both cities and the entire country.

Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and eloquent argument, Glaeser makes an impassioned case for the city's import and splendor. He reminds us forcefully why we should nurture our cities or suffer consequences that will hurt us all, no matter where we live.

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Editorial Reviews

Diana Silver
Edward Glaeser…has spent several decades investigating the role cities play in fostering human achievement. In Triumph of the City, he has embedded his findings in a book that is at once polymathic and vibrant…Clearly, Glaeser loves an argument, and he's a wonderful guide into one. Triumph of the City is bursting with insights and policy proposals to debate…you'll…walk away dazzled by the greatness of cities and fascinated by this writer's nimble mind.
—The New York Times
Christopher Shea
…provides an illuminating mix of history, statistics and polite polemic, while displaying a basic faith that cities are sufficiently interesting to hold the reader's attention.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
"You'll...walk away dazzled by the greatness of cities and fascinated by this writer's nimble mind." —The New York Times
The Economist
“This is popular economics of the best sort. Mr. Glaeser clearly believes that hell isn’t other people; heaven’s more like it, for all our faults. He’s right, and he says it well.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143120544
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/31/2012
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
249,288
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"You'll...walk away dazzled by the greatness of cities and fascinated by this writer's nimble mind." —-The New York Times
Steven D. Levitt
“Edward Glaeser is one of the world’s most brilliant economists, and TRIUMPH OF THE CITY is a masterpiece. Seamlessly combining economics and history, he explains why cities are ‘our species’ greatest invention.’ This beautifully written book makes clear how cities have not only survived but thrived, even as modern technology has seemingly made one’s physical location less important.” --(Steven D. Levitt, co-author of FREAKONOMICS and SUPERFREAKONOMICS; professor of economics at the University of Chicago )

Meet the Author

Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He studies the economics of cities, housing, segregation, obesity, crime, innovation and other subjects, and writes about many of these issues for Economix. He serves as the director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992.

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Triumph of the City 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Today our world is focusing on making it a greener planet. More environmentally friendly and protecting our resources while in the midst of the one of the worst economic failures. So how does one make our world a better place? Everyone has their own practical solution but did you ever look around at your current city and the cities around the world and ask yourself how are they moving forward while others are growing more and more vacant and abandoned? Believe it or not, cities are more greener for our environment than any other place. They use less resources and have lower pollution levels than suburban areas, but why? In the city, everything is close. Building offer dual purposes with lower, street levels offering all kinds of store fronts, restaurants and services people need to live, while higher up are where people are learning to live with less space. Less things to keep and less areas to keep clean and maintain. Not only that the more dense the city is, the more people will walk, bike and take public transportation than anywhere else. There is no need for cars, thus pollution in cities like New York are considerably less than Los Angeles. Now in cities like Detroit where the three major car manufacturers keep the heartbeat alive, with nothing coming out of the factory like before and everything going automated, people are out of jobs. No skills to help them move forward they are leaving in droves to places where work is plentiful and thus creating a huge place where nothing is existing anymore. Buildings are sitting vacant, lots are falling into ruin and rather than build them up because there aren't resources available to keep people here, the city has no choice but to bull doze them down to make green space available. So what can we do to bring the heartbeats back to cities all over the world? Check out the book, Truimph of the City by Edward Glaeser and find out. I was so impressed by all his research into what makes cities work over any where else and why some fail never to come back despite all the attempts to revive them. This is a great read and really makes you think about where we are headed and what we can do to ensure our own cities survival for the future. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and have to say 5 stars for this one. This one really educated me on some things I never considered and will keep on my own list when making my next move anywhere to live.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The guy lives in the burbs(do as i say not as i do) and holds some animosity toward teachers. Outside if that, he makes the same good points as every other author on this topic. A bit too much anecdotal 'evidence' can make him seem preachy. Still worth it.
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Ron007 More than 1 year ago
The book both enlightened and irritated. The enlightenment concerned new insights for me, especially from the developing world’s urban perspective. ‘Five million more people every month live in the cities of the developing world...’ (p.1). ‘...cities are expanding enormously because urban density provides the clearest path from poverty to prosperity’ (p.1). ‘There is a near-perfect correlation between urbanisation and prosperity across nations’ (p.7). ‘Cities are... the places where their nation’s genius is most fully expressed’ (p.8). ‘Cities... thrive as places of pleasure as well as productivity’ (p.10). The book is eclectic in coverage, weaves lessons from history and offers indicators for the rapidly urbanising developing world. It is written by an American Harvard economist. It therefore reads from an economist’s perspective (no problem here) and anchors central conclusions on American cities (slight quibbles there). However, New York City comes out really well (others do too but for different reasons). The frequent tribute to Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris, while admiring its resulting urban splendour, acknowledges the danger of the ossification of the physical fabric (a sound economic argument against excessive conservation). He also acknowledges that Haussmann destroyed almost half of Paris in order to achieve this new classical urban form. Patrick Geddes, the founding father of the scientific town planning movement (Cities in Evolution), a biologist by original training (who did a great deal of his pioneering work in the developing world), recognised the ‘living organism’ of the city. He lamented the destruction of the human and physical capital of Paris, on its path to reconstruction. How else could it be done one might ask? Scotland offers one answer. The city fathers’ recognised that Edinburgh’s medieval core could no longer accommodate its burgeoning population. This was at the height of the Scottish Enlightenment. So, between 1780 and roughly 1820, the majority of Edinburgh’s New Town was designed and built, on open land! For those with no experience of this Georgian masterpiece, you can fit Georgian Bath into the New Town as least three times. The author did not cite Geddes in his polemic (though Howard’s Garden City Movement was). Yet, what Glaeser and Geddes have in common is a recognition of the central virtue of the city. The author refers to it as ‘our greatest invention’. Geddes viewed cities as ‘cathedrals to the people’. There is a brilliant vignette, comparing the Green credentials and practical results of their respective advocacy, between Prince Charles and Ken Livingstone (former elected mayor of Greater London) (pp. 213-217). The book is almost worth it just for that! His strategic conclusions attempt to draw lessons from urbanising America to that of India and China. It is a compelling way to view the urban future. The irritations all concern style and punctuation; quoting written text in double inverted commas and starting sentences with conjunctions to name just two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TecumsehHaines More than 1 year ago
Deceitful, simplified, and repetitive. In particular, Glaeser's analysis of the crisis in Detroit is pathetic. 'Detroit's middle-class escaped Coleman Young (mayor) by moving to the suburbs'. Would recommend that he read 'Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit'. The true cause is no less simple. 1) The migration of black workers to the rust belt alienated whites who prefer homogeneity (as Glaeser notes). 2) Jobs moved outside of Detroit, where land and labor were cheaper and taxes were lower. 3) Discriminatory housing practices were common and kept minorities in inner city Detroit. The Fair Housing Act wasn't signed until 1968 and many jobs had moved outside city limits by then. The cause was structural, not the result of the actions of Coleman Young. In fact, much more damaging than the policies of Young were the discriminatory policies of Albert Cobo, which isolated and disenfranchised the black populace. With no jobs and no mobility, the citizens of Detroit had little choice but to watch their home slowly decay.
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