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
     
 

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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594202773
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/10/2011
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
339,224
Product dimensions:
9.32(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Introduction: Our Urban Species 1

Chapter 1 What Do They Make in Bangalore? 17

Ports of Intellectual Entry: Athens 19

Baghdad's House of Wisdom 21

Learning in Nagasaki 23

How Bangalore Became a Boom Town 24

Education and Urban Success 27

The Rise of Silicon Valley 29

The Cities of Tomorrow 34

Chapter 2 Why Do Cities Decline? 41

How the Rust Belt Rose 43

Detroit Before Cars 46

Henry Ford and Industrial Detroit 49

Why Riot? 52

Urban Reinvention: New York Since 1970 56

The Righteous Rage of Coleman Young 58

The Curley Effect 60

The Edifice Complex 61

Remaining in the Rust Belt 63

Shrinking to Greatness 64

Chapter 3 What's Good About Slums? 69

Rio's Favelas 72

Moving On Up 76

Richard Wright's Urban Exodus 79

Rise and Fall of the American Ghetto 81

The Inner City 85

How Policy Magnifies Poverty 86

Chapter 4 How Were the Tenements Tamed? 93

The Plight of Kinshasa 95

Healing Sick Cities 97

Street Cleaning and Corruption 101

More Roads, Less Traffic? 104

Making Cities Safer 106

Health Benefits 114

Chapter 5 Is London a Luxury Resort? 117

Scale Economies and the Globe Theatre 119

The Division of Labor and Lamb Vindaloo 122

Shoes and the City 126

London as Marriage Market 127

When Are High Wages Bad? 129

Chapter 6 What's So Great About Skyscrapers? 135

Inventing the Skyscraper 136

The Soaring Ambition of A. E. Lefcourt 140

Regulating New York 142

Fear of Heights 144

The Perils of Preservation 148

Rethinking Paris 152

Mismanagement in Mumbai 157

Three Simple Rules 161

Chapter 7 Why Has Sprawl Spread? 165

Sprawl Before Cars 167

William Levitt and Mass-Produced Housing 174

Rebuilding America Around the Car 177

Welcome to The Woodlands 180

Accounting for Tastes: Why a Million People Moved to Houston 183

Why Is Housing So Cheap in the Sunbelt? 188

What's Wrong with Sprawl? 193

Chapter 8 Is There Anything Greener Than Blacktop? 199

The Dream of Garden Living 202

Dirty Footprints: Comparing Carbon Emissions 206

The Unintended Consequences of Environmentalism 210

Two Green Visions: The Prince and the Mayor 213

The Biggest Battle: Greening India and China 217

Seeking Smarter Environmentalism 220

Chapter 9 How Do Cities Succeed? 223

The Imperial City: Tokyo 224

The Well-Managed City: Singapore and Gaborone 227

The Smart City: Boston, Minneapolis, and Milan 231

The Consumer City: Vancouver 238

The Growing City: Chicago and Atlanta 241

Too Much of a Good Thing in Dubai 244

CONCLUSION: Flat World, Tall City 247

Give Cities a Level Playing Field 249

Urbanization Through Globalization 251

Lend a Hand to Human Capital 253

Help Poor People, Not Poor Places 255

The Challenge of Urban Poverty 257

The Rise of the Consumer City 259

The Curse of NIMBYism 260

The Bias Toward Sprawl 264

Green Cities 276

Gifts of the City 268

Acknowledgments 271

Notes 275

Bibliography 307

Index 325

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