Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cities and Suburbs?

"In the line of descent from Jane Jacobs, he [Richard Florida] sees cities as the sites of small-scale,unplanned human interactions that, in the aggregate, yield big civilizational rewards."

Nicholas Lemann, "Get Out of Town: Has the celebration of cities gone too far?" The New Yorker, June 27, 2011.

Jacobs and her advocates saw more than random "unplanned interactions," the aesthetic, ethical, and entrepreneurial opportunities generated by people mixing it up. We need to understand how this is playing out today, not just on the streets, in fact maybe less so these days, but inside, between and among companies, networks, buildings. Is place central to these interactions or just a pleasant, engaging backdrop?

Lemann doesn't question whether cities -- at least the creative enclaves -- are more or less interesting as compared to the suburbs. This was once the case. Now? Edge cities, older suburbs, etc. have morphed in their own peculiar ways into more interesting places. Lemann also spends little time discussing the growing ethnic and racial diversity in some cities and suburbs.

And the rallying cry now for many is metros, not cities.

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