Marks54's Reviews > Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier

Triumph of the City by Edward L. Glaeser
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's review
Dec 22, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 22 to 31, 2011

This is a review of current thinking on the city by a Harvard economist who specializes in such work. Glaeser is a big fan of Jame Jacobs, so the book serves as an interesting update to Jacob's book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. He adds, however, that Jacobs was not an economist and so misunderstood some points, such as the unintended consequences of restricting the size and extent of building in a city - that preservation and limits building will lead to the marginalization of cities with gentrification along the way, which to me is a reasonable comment on Jacobs' great book. The major takeaway from this book is counterintuitive, namely that in some very important ways, building up cities is much more friendly to the economy and to limiting global warming than is limiting cities and building green suburbs. It is counterintuitive but it leads to some really interesting arguments about city planning, both in the US and in Asia. Glaeser also provides lots of updated info on lots of cities, from Chicago, Atlanta, and Detroit to Singapore and the nascent high growth Chinese cities.

Overall, it was a really good book with good policy implications that does not just reinforce established arguments but makes the reader come to grips with if not totally agree with new ones. It did not have the same impact on me as Jacobs' book had but it was a very good book.
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