Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Interesting article in the Washington Monthly on the rise of "creative" cities - that is those cities that have the things that young innovative people want to live near, cities that contain amongst other things "a thriving music scene, ethnic and cultural diversity, fabulous outdoor recreation, and great nightlife". (However, there is obviously more to it than that, and the principle thing of course is simply that we are dealing with cities containing lots of other young creative types). Interestingly, of the large cities mentioned, three of the top ten are in Texas: Austin, Houston, and Dallas at 2, 7, and 10. This gets me back to the the question of "Why do so many cool people come from Texas?" that I have addressed previously. We can also make the observation that a city which is famous for its lack of coherent planning (or some would say planning controls of any kind) is attractive to live in. The question of precisely which cities become attractive to live in for these young creative types and why is an interesting one. There is a book to be written on the subject, I suspect.

The list of smaller cities attractive to creative individuals features an impressive number of Southern and Western cities, but interestingly enough we have Allentown, Pennsylvania at number 4, the city most of us know from Billy Joel's

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line

Other than the fact that cities with lots of layers built over the top of one another are fascinating (especially if a layer or two are industrial), and probably that proximity to Philadelphia and New York is a good thing, what do we make of this? Joel Garreau's Edge City actually referred in passing to Allentown, along the lines of "Unemployment was dropping to 3 percent just as Billy Joel was writing the song". By the way, Edge City is easily the best book I have ever read on why American cities have developed the way they have, and is quite informative about why the American economy is the way it is in general. The book is now 12 years old, but exceptionally worth a read.

No comments:

Blog Archive