Thursday, January 09, 2014

Triumph of the Entrepreneurial City

Entrepreneurship is urbanity at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Geography of innovation.

Subject Article: "The Future of Downtown Vegas Is Somewhere in Tony Hsieh's Apartment."

Other Links: 1. "The Metropolitan Revolution: The New Geography of Innovation."
2. "Silicon Valley Is Detroit: Are Zoning Laws to Blame?"
3. "Why Today's Start-Ups Are Choosing Urban Lofts Over Suburban Office Parks."
4. "Burbank to Brookline Soar in Suburb Shift: Real Estate."
5. "Monumental Roots: The great stone monuments of prehistoric Britain, including Stonehenge, were born in a wave of innovation that apparently began on a remote Scottish island."
6. "When Innovative Cities Were Set in Stone."

Postscript: Stonehenge not as city of innovation, but center of gravity:

From all over Britain they came by the thousands, with their families, their pigs, and their cattle, to this huge complex of earthen and wooden monuments by the River Avon, known today as Durrington Walls. Inside a circular earthen bank and ditch, 500 meters in diameter, stood a smaller circle of dozens of stout, upstanding timbers. In the center, the body of a venerated chief lay in state. The pilgrims feasted to his triumphs and to his memory, roasted their cattle and their pigs, and then the procession began. ...

... Right next to Durrington Walls, excavators have found a village with a population that might have been in the thousands, with houses built in a style—including the placement of the beds and a central dresser— that apparently originated in far-off Orkney. Parker Pearson and others are confident that the people who lived there helped build the monuments, and the huge number of animal remains suggests that whoever was in charge of the vast project had to keep them well-fed. Other researchers have found that pottery from the village—manufactured in the Grooved Ware style first seen in Orkney—held rich traces of both dairy products and pig fat.

If a city doesn't bring together people from the ends of the earth, then that city won't be innovative. Likewise, places other than cities can bring together people from the ends of the earth and spur innovation. All the talk about the inherently innovative city thanks to density is hogwash.


Matthew Hall said...

Then why do dense places exist?

Jim Russell said...

Primarily, for the same reason people migrate: economic opportunity.

Anonymous said...

But then all you're doing is pushing the question back a level. Migration and density are both mostly results not causes. Even so both are part of a positive feedback that can be harmed by inhibiting either. Yes, density isn't fully explanatory (not even close) but were people claiming that?

Jim Russell said...

A certain level of density, a certain kind of density is stated as a policy goal. People, such as Jane Jacobs, Tony Hsieh, and Edward Glaeser, are making causal claims. Greater density is used to explain greater innovation in cities.