Thursday, March 10, 2011

City Planning

International Fountain at Seattle Center, 1962 World's Fair, by photographer Max R. Jensen – via Vintage Seattle

Not to get all smug and Portlandic on everyone, but this article on the New York Times' Economix blog – "How Seattle Transformed Itself," by Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser – caught my eye. His basic points:
Seattle is one of the few large cities outside the Sun Belt that is growing more quickly than the country as a whole.
A great paradox of our age is that despite the declining cost of connecting across space, more people are clustering together in cities. The explanation of that strange fact is that globalization and technological change have increased the returns on being smart, and humans get smart by being around other smart people. Dense, smart cities like Seattle succeed by attracting smart people who educate and employ one another.
The Seattle model is particularly important, because the ideas created in skilled cities are likely to be the economic mainstay of America in the next century.
It has to be said that a lot of what Glaeser discusses (density, a great transportation system) feels more like Seattle's aspiration than its present-day reality, but this is a relatively new city, and now is the time for goals. It's good to know that someone thinks we're on the right track. Click here to read the whole post.

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