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October 18, 2021 | History

Triumph of the City

How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier

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The Penguin Press

Previews available in: English

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.

(Source: Penguin Press blurb)

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Introduction our urban species
Chapter 1 What do they make in Bangalore?
Ports of intellectual entry : Athens
Baghdad’s house of wisdom
Learning in Nagasaki
How Bangalore became a boom town
Education and urban success
The rise of Silicon Valley
The cities of tomorrow
Chapter 2 Why do cities decline?
How the rust belt rose
Detroit before cars
Henry Ford and industrial Detroit
Why riot?
Urban reinvention : New York since 1970
The righteous rage of Coleman Young
The Curley effect
The edifice complex
Remaining in the rust belt
Shrinking to greatness
Chapter 3 What’s good about slums?
Rio’s favelas
Moving on up
Richard Wright’s urban exodus
Rise and fall of the American ghetto
The inner city
How policy magnifies poverty
Chapter 4 How were the tenements tamed?
The plight of Kinshasa
Healing sick cities
Street cleaning and corruption
More roads, less traffic?
Making cities safer
Health benefits
Chapter 5 Is London a luxury resort?
Scale economies and the Globe Theatre
The division of labor and lamb vindaloo
Shoes and the city
London as marriage market
When are high wages bad?
Chapter 6 What’s so great about skyscrapers?
Inventing the skyscraper
The soaring ambition of A. E. Lefcourt
Regulating New York
Fear of heights
The perils of preservation
Rethinking Paris
Mismanagement in Mumbai
Three simple rules
Chapter 7 Why has sprawl spread?
Sprawl before cars
Arthur Levitt and mass-produced housing
Rebuilding America around the car
Welcome to the woodlands
Accounting for tastes : why a million people moved to Houston
Why is housing so cheap in the sunbelt?
What’s wrong with sprawl?
Chapter 8 Is there anything greener than blacktop?
The dream of garden living
Dirty footprints : comparing carbon emissions
The unintended consequences of environmentalism
Two green visions : the prince and the mayor
The biggest battle : greening India and China
Seeking smarter environmentalism
Chapter 9 How do cities succeed?
The imperial city : Tokyo
The well-managed city : Singapore and Gaborone
The smart city : Boston, Minneapolis, and Milan
The consumer city : Vancouver
The growing city : Chicago and Atlanta
Too much of a good thing in Dubai
Conclusion flat world, tall city.
Give cities a level playing field
Urbanization through globalization
Lend a hand to human capital
Help poor people, not poor places
The challenge of urban poverty
The rise of the consumer city
The curse of NIMBYism
The bias toward sprawl
Green cities
Gifts of the city.


Library of Congress
HT361 .G53 2011

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Number of pages
9.25 x 6.14 x inches

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