Repost-Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

Full post here.

‘So, why did most people want to move to the city? It seems like the same lure as today: freedom from a set life pattern and higher urban wages.’

Now if we focus on immigrants, economic opportunity and political stability tend to be the biggest draws.  Immigrants are usually risking a lot to get here, and they’re usually getting away from something:  dire poverty and political/religious oppression.  Life is hard, and people tend to move in migratory patterns, following the trail left by friends and family, and in some cases, free stuff, if you hand it out to them.

For Americans moving from small towns to big cities, the reasons tend to also include education and ambition, wanderlust and love:

People moving to the city have been illogical risk takers from the beginning. and the key is probably they like the sexual or mating opportunities inherent in large groups. Playing to that angle would bring in hipsters and gays. As to whether that’s the key to the health of cities or our nation, I doubt it, but it won’t hurt, especially because one of the best ways of making a city fun to go out in is that it’s safe for young women.’

Richard Florida suggested this trend, of hipster and gay migration, attached to a ‘knowledge’ class, is the way forward for American cities.  I suspect there is a pretty Left-Of-Center political philosophy under there with a lot of ‘class’ analysis and obsession with income inequality.

I’d been wondering about the cultural angle:  The hipsters were a third round of generally youthful rebellion (post-beat, post-hippie), fueled by a counter-culture ethos heavily invested in the Arts, individualism to the point of semi-nihilism, and harboring some collectivist tendencies.  There is a natural desire to break with the more traditional and religious models of organization typically found in small towns and rural areas, and also to follow the ‘Zeitgeist’ towards racial and ethnic diversity in meritocratic and multicultural harmony (coming with serious downsides).

The New York Times seems hyperbolically invested in this model (overlooking trade and economic opportunity as I believe Wall Street sets the pace, Park Slope and Williamsburg follow).  This is to say nothing of the political corruption for which big cities like New York and Chicago are typically known.  Big-city political machines were the way to a better life for most of those immigrant groups thrown into the pot, but they are also notoriously corrupt, full of clientalism and machine pols.

This leaves cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburg still floating out there, unable to live off the fat of trade and finance, immigration and cheap labor, museums and tourism.  The lost industrial base, along with the lack of a strong knowledge-based economy leaves them with a brain-drain and difficult prospects.

Are energy, agriculture, low taxes and a strong private sector enough?  What about the cultural shifts going on?

Interesting reads:  Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Virginia Postrel here:

As I have argued elsewhere, there are two competing models of successful American cities. One encourages a growing population, fosters a middle-class, family-centered lifestyle, and liberally permits new housing. It used to be the norm nationally, and it still predominates in the South and Southwest. The other favors long-term residents, attracts highly productive, work-driven people, focuses on aesthetic amenities, and makes it difficult to build. It prevails on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in picturesque cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first model spurs income convergence, the second spurs economic segregation. Both create cities that people find desirable to live in, but they attract different sorts of residents.’

Joel Kotkin. Omaha vs. San Francisco?:

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Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

Repost-From Thirty Two Via Althouse: ‘The Fall Of The Creative Class’

Full piece here.

Thirty Two is a Minneapolis based publication, where our author ended up after looking for “the creative class,” which has to do with Richard Florida’s economic theory:

‘When I asked if he could show me a city that had had mea­sur­able eco­nomic growth as a result of an influx of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als, Florida said there was “wide con­sen­sus” that migra­tion of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als had taken place, and named some places like Wash­ing­ton DC, greater Boston, greater NY, and greater San Francisco.’

Putting the cart before the horse?  Here’s a previous quote from Florida:

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

A creative, non-sexist, non-racist, non-classist future awaits.  Be liberated!  There will be lots of community gardens and bike paths, I imagine.  Williamsburg doesn’t need Wall Street!

Many artist-types, the bookish, the literary, the ‘creative class’ post-moderns and hipsters, along with the increasingly tech/science-inspired cultural influencers, naturally want certain cultural amenities and opportunities.  Naturally, they’re going  to pay for these amenities, and they’re going to find their ideas have limitations when it comes to economic scarcity, human nature, politics, and life in the city.  It’s about trade-offs.

The blurred line where the arts, humanities, and the ‘creative class’ are meeting conservative/libertarian traditions and political philosophy in contemporary American life has become a strongly recurring theme on this blog. 

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

It’s the 60’s, don’t you know.  The Arts can also be united with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption…after going mainstream.  On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Well, art doesn’t need to be in service of a socialist vision, but it can:  Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

 —————————–
What if you’re economy’s already depressed?  Don’t make a maze of laws and build stadiums and museums on the public dime…get new industry: From Reason: ‘Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey’…Reason also suggests that if such creative/entrepenurial spirit gets off the ground, it will have to get around the public sector in Detroit.  From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?’

 
Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?
 
 
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From Joel Kotkin: ‘Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class’

Full piece here.

Remember when you were supposed to become a metrosexual?:

‘Perhaps the best that can be said about the creative-class idea is that it follows a real, if overhyped, phenomenon: the movement of young, largely single, childless and sometimes gay people into urban neighborhoods. This Soho-ization—the transformation of older, often industrial urban areas into hip enclaves—is evident in scores of cities. It can legitimately can be credited for boosting real estate values from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Wicker Park in Chicago and Belltown in Seattle to Portland’s Pearl District as well as much of San Francisco’

Kotkin on Richard Florida’s vision:

‘His reasonable and fairly brave, if belated, takeaway: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.’

So If the jobs aren’t all coming from tech, knowledge, and the ‘creative class,’are they coming from lost manufacturing, industry, energy and agriculture?

Addition: See Reason’s comments.  Aren’t there deeper economic analyses?

***See Also: Virginia Postrel’s piece at Bloomberg.   Are we making two types of American city, or have everyday Joes just stopped going to San Francisco and New York, and those cities are hollowing out to become the centers of trade, finance, and commerce they’ve always been.  The European vision of the city overlooks real economic growth: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Wall

New York was always a place for trade and commerce: Repost: Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)

You don’t get the progressive base without the restrictive laws…they are baby steps to paradise: Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’……Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? 

Meanwhile, what do we do with rust belt cities: From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

At least he’s putting up his own money to achieve his vision:

Repost-‘From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Full piece here.

Perhaps the most damaging misconception of all is the idea that concentration by its very nature creates wealth. Many writers, led by popular theorist Richard Florida, argue that centralized urban areas provide broader cultural opportunities and better access to technology, attracting more innovative, plugged-in people (Florida’s “creative class“) who will in the long term produce greater economic vibrancy.’

The commenters are not friendly to Kotkin.

Here’s a comment by Florida over at the Atlantic a while back:

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

There is a lot of ideology lurking in discussions about urban planning.  I feel inclined to defend economic opportunity (jobs), that leads couples to try and get as much space as they can for their money (suburbs), and ultimately, a good environment for their kids to grow up in and access to a decent school.

Also On This Site:  From The Atlantic: Richard Florida’s ‘How The Crash Will Reshape America’…it’s all about class don’t you know: From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

Look out Omaha…people are coming your way?: …Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

At least someone might be buying the houses, and some good art could even come of it, but there’s a kind of a anti-establishment tone (mixing art and politics in a questionable way): artists buying cheap houses in Detroit.  Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

Brasilia: A Planned City Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Jonathan Meades On Le Corbusier At The New Statesman

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From Thirty Two Via Althouse: ‘The Fall Of The Creative Class’

Full piece here.

Thirty Two is a Minneapolis based publication, where our author ended up after looking for “the creative class,” which has to do with Richard Florida’s economic theory:

‘When I asked if he could show me a city that had had mea­sur­able eco­nomic growth as a result of an influx of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als, Florida said there was “wide con­sen­sus” that migra­tion of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als had taken place, and named some places like Wash­ing­ton DC, greater Boston, greater NY, and greater San Francisco.’

Putting the cart before the horse?  Here’s a previous quote from Florida:

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

A creative, non-sexist, non-racist, non-classist future awaits.  There will be lots of community gardens and bike paths, I imagine.  Brooklyn doesn’t need Wall Street!

Addition:  Apparently, some people still don’t recognize attempts at irony.

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

It’s the 60’s, don’t you know.  The Arts can also be united with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption…after going mainstream.  On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Well, art doesn’t need to be in service of a socialist vision, but it can:  Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

 —————————–
What if you’re economy’s already depressed?  Don’t make a maze of laws and build stadiums and museums on the public dime…get new industry: From Reason: ‘Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey’…Reason also suggests that if such creative/entrepenurial spirit gets off the ground, it will have to get around the public sector in Detroit.  From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?’

 
Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?
 
 
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From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Full piece here.

‘Perhaps the most damaging misconception of all is the idea that concentration by its very nature creates wealth. Many writers, led by popular theorist Richard Florida, argue that centralized urban areas provide broader cultural opportunities and better access to technology, attracting more innovative, plugged-in people (Florida’s “creative class“) who will in the long term produce greater economic vibrancy.’

The commenters are not friendly to Kotkin.

Here’s a comment by Florida over at the Atlantic a while back:

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

There is a lot of ideology lurking in discussions about urban planning.  I feel inclined to defend economic opportunity (jobs), that leads couples to try and get as much space as they can for their money (suburbs), and ultimately, a good environment for their kids to grow up in and access to a decent school.

Also On This Site:  From The Atlantic: Richard Florida’s ‘How The Crash Will Reshape America’…it’s all about class don’t you know: From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

At least someone might be buying the houses, and some good art could even come of it, but there’s a kind of a anti-establishment tone (mixing art and politics in a questionable way): artists buying cheap houses in Detroit.

Brasilia: A Planned City Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Jonathan Meades On Le Corbusier At The New Statesman

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From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

Full post here.

“The economic crisis is hitting hardest at working class jobs, and rates of male unemployment have skyrocketed. A commonly asked question is how do we retrain them for emerging job opportunities in other sectors.”

We can’t bring the old jobs back, I agree, and Florida focuses on an important problem.  However, his semi-utopian vision of what we ought to do next has found an easy target in this post:  the blue-collar mindset.

He establishes his credibility: 

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

Apparently, that time in his life was kind of a classist, violent dream, rife with the objectification of women and the derision of minorities.  This finally ended with his acceptance into the “middle-class:”  

“When a Garden State scholarship enabled me to attend Rutgers, I was floored by the relative safety, meritocratic orientation, and personal freedom afforded by middle-class culture.” 

I’m glad he found more opportunity for himself, and to develop his gifts within the “class structure” that people obsessed with class structures probably do a lot to contribute to the actual making of class structures.  This is something, and important.

He also attributes aggression only to males.  Physically, I would partially agree (but tell that to a young girl beat up by other young girls in a rough neighborhood).  However, Florida is clearly appealing to (or really believes in) the one sex better than another belief in current public sentiment.

“The demise of high-paying blue-collar jobs and the economic devestation it means for families and and communities is tragic. But the demise of that old-school working-class male mind-set is not something to be sad about.”

Hard work?  Sacrifice?  Loyalty to family and friends and to work so that one’s children have more safety, opportunity and personal freedom?

Some of his economic analysis is sound, but Florida seems to gloss over a lot of what poverty is, blue-collar or not, in a fog of both idealism and political opportunism (alligning his fate with the political winds). 

Plenty of room for disagreement here…

And what do we do with a shrinking industrial sector?  with skilled auto parts manufacturers?  

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From The Atlantic: Richard Florida’s ‘How The Crash Will Reshape America’

Full essay here.

“What’s more certain is that the recession, particularly if it turns out to be as long and deep as many now fear, will accelerate the rise and fall of specific places within the U.S.—and reverse the fortunes of other cities and regions.”

Of course such theory and analysis have great appeal by their potential predictive power over people’s lives:  Will my town die out?  Where should I move?

Economic crises tend to reinforce and accelerate the underlying, long-term trends within an economy.”

Bad news, Detroit, if Florida is right.

“…the economy is shifting away from manufacturing and toward idea-driven creative industries—and that, too, favors America’s talent-rich, fast-metabolizing places.”

Obviously, manufacturing jobs are dying out in the U.S., but what is an idea driven creative industry exactly?  Tech start-ups?  Biotech start-ups? Wind and hydro-farms?  Spill-over from universities into hip urban environments?

———————————————————————

In addition, Florida suggests the suburbs represent an old, homeownership-centric model that we’d do well to get rid off:

Velocity and density are not words that many people use when describing the suburbs. The economy is driven by key urban areas; a different geography is required. “

Instead, we need:

“A bigger, healthier rental market

and

“...we need to encourage growth in…the great mega-regions that already power the economy, and the smaller, talent-attracting innovation centers inside them—places like Silicon Valley, Boulder, Austin, and the North Carolina Research Triangle”

Bad news also, Cleveland, times are tough and you might just likely diminish more in size, opportunities and importance.  We’re going to be giving government dollars guided by government policy to San Francisco, Boston and Austin to come out of this recession stronger and more ready to compete on the world stage…

Are you convinced?

See Also:

From Joel Kotkin: ‘Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class’

From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

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