Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier. By Edward n; 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. Triumph of the City. Edward Glaeser. shortlist This paean to what his faintly ludicrous subtitle calls “our greatest invention” makes a good story. It won’t be.
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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 edwarx book was going ov 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.
What I found instead was a lazy, jumbled mass of stories, facts, anecdotes, and opinions bent to attribute all good things that have ever occurred in humanity to the conglomeration of people into urban spaces. The tone right away in the first chapter turned me off to the book as a whole.
It is opinion heavy, and the writing left you to assume that Glaser thinks that a he’s the first person who ever had the insight that there are inherent traits of cities that have greater value relative to suburban and rural areas, b anybody that doesn’t think that cities are the best solution when it comes to organizing people within a society is an idiot, and c anybody who would choose to live outside of a city is an idiot.
With that being said, we later find out that Glaser himself has moved to the suburbs because of the convenience of the drive to his workplace, the better schools offered by the suburbs, and the fact that he gets to have a yard. Once that admission makes it’s first citu, the rest of the book reads as his triimph to rationalize his decision and punt it to urban policymakers to improve cities in order to make people like him willing to live in them again.
Especially caught in the crosshairs are the evil preservationists, who would choose to preserve the historical integrity of a city over turning over those lots to new skyscrapers so that we can keep housing prices low.
There are some good points made about policymakers who confuse a city, which is a mass of connected humanity, with it’s structures e.
The other part of this book that really annoyed me was the forced association between human innovation and cities. At points, he even came up with his own clever terms for obvious observations.
Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser | : Books
For example, “self-protecting urban innovation! Another one, on page 32, almost made me put the book down right then, but I decided to hate-read my way through the rest of this. On page 32, Glaser makes the argument that an invention as sophisticated as the printing press couldn’t have just been invented by a solitary genius.
One needed financial backers, who in Glaser’s world can only reside in cities because large urban markets allow for these economies of scale to flourish and rural people wouldn’t put up the volume of capital necessary for such an unsure bet. Ergo, credit cities for the invention of the printing press. Without the printing press, Martin Luther wouldn’t have been able to spread the message of Protestantism. And voila, you can thank cities for the Protestant Reformation. If you follow that stream of logic, you know everything you need to about this book.
In summary, if you have a friend that rags on cities and talks about the “Real America” and excludes cities from it, hide this book from them. It is exhibit A for the kind of arrogant, paternalistic, contemptuous thinking frequently found in the stereotypes draped onto city dwellers.
Cities deserve better representation than this. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page.
Preview — Triumph of the City by Edward L. Triumph of the City: 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: 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 percent more in Los Angeles than in Houston, even though building costs are only 25 percent higher in L.
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.
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. Hardcoverpages. Published February 10th by Penguin Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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Triumph of the City Quotes by Edward L. Glaeser
Not to find one’s way around a city does not mean much. But to lose one’s way in a city, as one loses one’s way in a forest, requires some schooling.
Glaeser sees a city not as buildings and infrastructure but primarily as people living, working, and thinking together. One of the things he strongly advocates is governments to Not to find one’s way around a city does not mean much.
One of the things he strongly advocates is governments to stop saving poor cities, and start saving poor people. Governments conflate the two but they are very different things. At least half of the billion USD spent on infrastructure could have gone into housing and school vouchers. While Glaeser can be extremely passionate, he is not unreasonable. He advocates for spending on infrastructure with a sensitivity to the supply and demand, which really means with a sensitivity to people.
Glaeser heavily criticizes, not people suburbanising but policies that nudge sub-urbanization, corroborating his censure with evidence of how environmentally unfriendly it is when you move to a once rural place, live there as you would in city and drive to work everyday.
He advocates building up, skyscrapers within reason.
An interesting example is that of Vancouver, that happens to have both tall buildings and large open spaces. The book is sprinkled with interesting bits of history, like the one about Henry David Thoreau having started a massive forest fire in the Concord forest, a fire that he never repented, at least not publicly.
He asked how different it was from lightning causing a fire. Amusing, how similar sounds to the climate change deniers and heartening, because perhaps they too will see it someday.
My only point of disapproval, is that Gleaser doesn’t give enough emphasis on how large dense cities have been affecting groundwater supply. Apart from that, this book is an excellent introduction to a less emotional, more practical view on urban planning.
Concrete has become synonymous with a destruction of nature and human intimacy, but that view is neither true nor productive to urban planning policy. View all 5 comments. Apr 07, Rachel Bayles rated it liked it. This is a frustratingly uneven book, written by someone with many good, interesting ideas who has not learned to knit them into a book-length whole.
His background as a published academic used to writing more focused work makes sense, given that the book reads so disjointedly. 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 This is a frustratingly uneven book, written by someone with many good, interesting ideas who has not learned to knit them into a book-length whole.
The best parts are when the author begins to explore the role of serendipity and historical decision-making on present urban forms. Then he quickly mashes together some prescriptions for urban problems at the end. This last part should have been half the book, because the reader is left feeling like the author really could solve some of these problems, if only he would go into more detail on something he has thought so deeply about.
Reading this book is like being at a party with your smartest friend, when they are terribly distracted by personal problems and the rush of daily life. However, this book was brought to press too soon.
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Wait for his next when he has ironed out the kinks. He is sure to hit it out of the ballpark then. Mar 27, Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing Shelves: If you’re into urban economics at all, or even just have an interest in how living in whatever city you’re in improves your life, anything by Glaeser should be mandatory reading.
He’s a Harvard economist who also writes for the New York Times’ Economix blog about urban issues, and this book is a synthesis of much of his recent work on cities. The first part of the book is dedicated to enumerating the many edwarx advantages that urban areas provide over non-urban areas, especially in their role If you’re into urban economics at all, or even just have an interest in how living in whatever city you’re in improves your life, anything by Glaeser should be mandatory reading.
The first part of the book is dedicated to enumerating the citj economic advantages that urban areas provide over non-urban areas, especially in their role as innovation incubators.
One great insight he throws right at the beginning is that cities themselves are actually an invention – the concept of collecting buildings close together to facilitate trade and idea-sharing was something akin to the concept of running electrical pulses across wires or building irrigation channels for crops – and that this insight, that people do their best work when surrounded by other people, has helped spur countless other inventions since.
The multiplier aspect of cities, the way that they encourage the commerce and idea-sharing that improves human lives, is glaese he explores at great depth, and it doesn’t take long at all before the reader is caught up in his infectious enthusiasm for the many benefits of urban living.
Each chapter in the beginning and the end thirds is full of mini-history lessons from around the world – Nagasaki’s role triu,ph a port town, Bangalore’s place in India’s technology boom, Silicon Valley’s genesis as a research center, New York City’s struggles with growth and crime, Baghdad’s history as an intellectual mecca – each of which are the distillation of vast amounts of research, and the cumulative impact of the artfully linked tgiumph is enormous.
Even the most hardened suburbanite would be forced to reconsider their SUV and backyard patio after just that first section. Glaeser himself was born in Manhattan, which he admits colors his judgment, but that never obscures the facts that back him up, and the middle third of the book, once he’s finished touting the substantial health, educational, and romantic benefits that cities have brought to humanity, is an explanation of why so many people, including him, have eventually turned their back on these dynamic growth engines and decamped for the suburbs.
There’s a somewhat poetic cast to this story of migrations from farms to towns to big cities to suburbs to exurbs, but in Glaeser’s reckoning, the biggest contributors to sprawl and deurbanization in the US are prosaic things like the invention of the automobile, the popularity of air conditioning, and in particular overzealous land regulations in the older, colder Northeast metro areas.
Cities may have profound influences on economic activity but they are not exempt from the laws of economics themselves, and if housing supplies are limited by historical preservation boards, rent control laws, mandatory parking lot statutes, and poor zoning regulations, then the cost of living will increase and people will move to areas where there are fewer artificial constraints on growth.
Now that the data cit the Census has been released, it’s become clear just how dramatic the consequences of different attitudes towards growth are: Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and other eddard areas that place few obstacles to housing construction have expanded dramatically, while New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, etc.