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: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime ridden, expensive, environmentally unfriendly... Or are they?
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 350 percent more in Los Angeles than in Houston, even though building costs are only 25 percent higher in L.A. 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." And he exposes the dangerous anti-urban political bias that is harming both cities and the entire country.
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.
Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He studies the economics of cities, housing, segregation, obesity, crime, innovation and other subjects, and writes about many of these issues for Economix. He serves as the director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992.
"If you live in a city, if you're planning on living in a city, if you ever lived in a city-this is a great book to read to give yourself a nice feeling of what you're accomplishing. It's a tremendous book."
-Jon Stewart, Host of The Daily Show
"Edward Glaeser is one of the world's most brilliant economists, and Triumph of the City is a masterpiece. Seamlessly combining economics and history, he explains why cities are 'our species' greatest invention.' This beautifully written book makes clear how cities have not only survived but thrived, even as modern technology has seemingly made one's physical location less important."
-Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics; professor of economics at the University of Chicago
"If you would like to improve slums, turn poverty into prosperity, or get a grip on urban sprawl, read this thoughtful and thought-provoking book."
-Simon Johnson, author of 13 Bankers; professor of entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management
"A magisterial book from the world's leading authority on why and how cities work. Comprehensive, compelling and strongly recommended."
-Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and Adapt; columnist for The Financial Times
"[A] terrific new book."
-David Brooks, The New York Times
"At once polymathic and vibrant... Glaeser loves an argument, and he's a wonderful guide into one. Triumph of the City is bursting with insights and policy proposals to debate. You'll... walk away dazzled by the greatness of cities and fascinated by this writer's nimble mind."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Although liberally sprinkled with statistics, Triumph of the City is no dry work. Mr Glaeser writes lucidly and spares his readers the equations of his trade. This is popular economics of the best sort. Mr Glaeser clearly believes that hell isn't other people; heaven's more like it, for all our faults. He's right, and he says it well."
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