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The Gated City

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  299 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Something has gone wrong with the American economy. Over the past 30 years, great technological leaps failed to translate into faster growth, more jobs, or rising incomes. The link between innovation and broad prosperity seems to have broken down.

At the heart of the problem is a great migration. Families are fleeing the country's richest cities in droves, leaving places li
ebook, 90 pages
Published (first published August 31st 2011)
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Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed The Gated City, and I will be recommending it to others.

I’m planning to write a longer review for Talking Story, my blog, so briefly for now:

I can understand the feelings of the two previous reviewers now here, for both seem to be much more learned and familiar with the subjects at hand (urban planning, density economics etc.), however I greatly appreciated what Mr. Avent set out to do, in releasing his essay to the world-at-large as a very affordable Kindle Single. I was happy it wasn
Dani Arribas-bel
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
The main hypothesis is that several barriers to (re)development in the most productive cities of the US have pushed population to cities with lower densities and productivity, hampering economic growth and performance.

The book is written in the spirit of Glaesser's "Triumph of the city", but has notably less arguments and is focused much more on the aspect of development barriers.

I think the biggest advantage over Glaesser's is the (much smaller) time investment that it requires, it can easily b
Josephine Burks
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been really interested in reading books about housing, economic trends and similar topics of late. This book didn't disappoint. Was very clear in outlining the potential for cities to drive growth in the U.S if a shift towards becoming more dense existed.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a really interesting Kindle Single-length read. Though it occasionally cried out for some more detailed case studies or scenes with real people, Avent does a great job of challenging the reader to think about cities in a new way: chiefly, as hubs of potential. I enjoyed that he fiercely defended urban density and made me think about why living in a city is economically valuable instead of just thinking about it in purely emotional terms. I always knew I wanted to move to the Washington ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was disappointing. It was about cities, why they are important, and how city residents have kept cities from realizing their growth potential. I learned a few things from this book; namely how widespread the NIMBY effect is in urban areas, and how this keeps cities from making useful zoning changes. But I thought the author took far too long in making his points.

This was a short book, but it could have been much shorter. There was a ton of throat clearing, and not enough substance. It
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a short follow up monograph (kindle single) to the city books I have been reading. It is well done and informative with current stats. The key story is that local restrictions on urban development to protect property values, environment, etc. are generally self-defeating by reducing mobility in the cities that are in the most demand as places to live. I tend to agree and have not generally found the NIMBYs to be productive although looking at this from a "macro" perspective is not the on ...more
3.5 stars. There were some very interesting ideas presented here about why it is good to have a certain amount of density of people in a given area. It is not ideal for New York type density but there are some benefits to increasing the level that exists in many of the more popular cities. Some of the most interesting views in this relates to why there is less density - the author argues that due to zoning/NIMBY actions in more dense areas, people then are forced to find housing in less dense lo ...more
Aaron Arnold
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fairly quick overview of how many rich, developed cities are starting to strangle themselves with development restrictions and why it's a bad thing. It's basically a snappier version of Ed Glaeser's awesome Triumph of the City, but, being a Kindle Single, is a good introduction to the more applied side of urban economics. If you live in a big city then it's a good perspective on the neverending conflict between people who wants to change your neighborhood and the people who want it to be the s ...more
Louis W
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
The author contends that no place in America can match the dynamism and productivity of our most crowded cities. On paper this seems a solid assertion, if not in itself a 90-page thought. But as I sit on a delayed train at Penn Station with 200 of my fellow urbanites (three of whom are on my lap), all of us playing solitaire on our phones, it's hard to fully credit. There are other problems with this book too.
Dash Williams
In the Gated City, Ryan Avent makes the argument that the potential for gains in productivity are hamstrung by America's policies that fight density. I think he argues his point satisfactorily, but his argument would have been stronger if he focused more on the idea that those fight density friendly developments, The NIMBYs, are in violation of the individual developers rights to use their private property in the manner they see fit.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A decent summary of the argument for why cities matter for economic growth and innovation. Draws heavily on Glaeser and others. Could have been even shorter. Argues that people moved from productive, dense places like San Francisco/San Jose to less dense Sunbelt cities like Phoenix primarily because the cost of housing is too high in the Bay Area. Explains why this is a net loss for the economy.
Jordan Munn
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
This short book takes some shortcuts in the subject of housing in the US, and it's certainly not designed to be a primer on housing generally. It reads like an extended op-ed, and it contains a nice handful of good observations, connections, and ideas. Relies mostly on theoretical arguments vs evidence, but it makes a lot of sense. Solid single-sitting read.
Andy Howard
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A nice read on how urban centers are drivers of innovation and production and what we can do to promote more growth.

Excellent introduction for those who haven't really read much about urban planning, economics, innovation and their interactions with each other.

Also an interesting read for those who are in the field or have a bit of knowledge under their belts already.
Jason Buberel
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
The point is a bit belabored and the argument sometimes repetitive, but the author makes his point clearly. I left the book with a feeling of frustration over the scope and intractability of the problem (zoning reform).
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Solid book about the advantages of increasing urban real estate density. References good data but doesn't provide many actual analytics. My only complaint is length - same above average returns to density thesis could be illustrated in 100 pages or less.
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read in a topic that I'm really interested in.
Greg Bolton
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent and thought-provoking book.
Daniel O'Sullivan
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's somewhat repetitive and a little drawn out in getting to the point, but it's good stuff.
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read it. It's a really interesting analysis of how housing costs play a role in the overall productivity of the US.
Interesting take on the importance of cities and how Americans stifle growth by placing restrictions on new developments (Not-In-My-Backyardism).
Charles L.
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