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Preview — Triumph of the City by Edward L. Glaeser
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
America is an urban nation, yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly . . . or are they? In this revelatory book, Edward Glaeser, a leading urban economist, declares that cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in...more
The first part of the book is dedicated to enumerating the many economic advantages that urban areas provide over non-urban areas, especially in their role...more
Most of the book is written as separate chapters, touching on various mainstream urban ideas that are loosely knit together. The best parts are when the author begins to explore the role of serendipity and historical decisi...more
After reading the first chapter, I was very concerned about the rest of the book. It presented a whole bunch of opinions, stated as fact, with very little to back them up. I felt like arguing with all of them, even the ones I agreed with.
Luckily I did better with the rest of the book, where the arguments are arranged logi...more
My problem with the book isn't the city love but the overall lack of structure and purpose. It is easy to understand why cities would have richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier citizens than rural areas - this could have been summed up in an essay. While Glaeser did an excellent...more
This is a stirring defense of cities, and the benefits they can offer. As someone who grew up in Detroit, I've spent the last ten years defending it. Glaeser spends a whole chapter (and constant asides elsewhere) explaining what happened to Detroit, and why it will be so hard to bring it back. (The short version: large c...more
I really wish I had liked this book, which made my read of it all the more disappointing. As somebody who has lived in cities my entire adult life, I felt that this book was going to be a great opportunity to gain some new knowledge and put some facts behind my intuition that cities are a good thing for our bodies, minds, and environment. What I found instead was a lazy, jumbled mass of stories, facts, anecdotes, and opinions bent to attribute all good things that have eve...more
A lot of challenging positions are asserted by Glaeser and he provides a lot of examples showing how var...more
The argument is t...more
The book made me wonder if I am suffering from bi-polar disorder. There were times when I was loving it: him explaining how living in the city is better for the environment, the benefits of public transportation, how important education is to our cities, how cities are able to rebound from...more
However, I really wanted to rewrite virtually all of the c...more
There was a lot of good information in the book, and many very interesting topics were examined in detail: Why do so many Americans move to Dallas or Houston? Is urban poverty better than rural poverty? Will the modernization of India, China, and Brazil result in environmental catastrophe?
However, Edward Gla...more
Edward Glaeser argues that this transformation of the way we live is a very, very good thing. As compared with their rural cousins, people who live in cities have a much smaller carbon footprint. They are 50% more productive, if they live in a city over one million people. They live longer. T...more
Glaeser has far more faith in the "free market" to solve urban issues t...more
I found his comparisons between cities (Singapore vs Gabarone, middle class life in NYC vs Houston) illuminating, but I found his use of stats misleading. I often had to reread to double check if he was referring to...more
What I really loved about the book was its approach to cities. Instead of idolizing the cit...more
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The very first experiment in social psychology was conducted by a University of Indiana psychologist who was also an avid bicyclist. He noted that “racing men” believe that “the value of a pace,” or competitor, shaves twenty to thirty seconds off the time of a mile. To rigorously test the value of human proximity, he got forty children to compete at spinning fishing reels to pull a cable. In all cases, the kids were supposed to go as fast as they could, but most of them, especially the slower ones, were much quicker when they were paired with another child. Modern statistical evidence finds that young professionals today work longer hours if they live in a metropolitan area with plenty of competitors in their own occupational niche.
Supermarket checkouts provide a particularly striking example of the power of proximity. As anyone who has been to a grocery store knows, checkout clerks differ wildly in their speed and competence. In one major chain, clerks with differing abilities are more or less randomly shuffled across shifts, which enabled two economists to look at the impact of productive peers. It turns out that the productivity of average clerks rises substantially when there is a star clerk working on their shift, and those same average clerks get worse when their shift is filled with below-average clerks.
Statistical evidence also suggests that electronic interactions and face-to-face interactions support one another; in the language of economics, they’re complements rather than substitutes. Telephone calls are disproportionately made among people who are geographically close, presumably because face-to-face relationships increase the demand for talking over the phone. And when countries become more urban, they engage in more electronic communications.”