There’s an overwhelming error of urban policy over the past 75 years which has been to follow a Potemkin village strategy of urban revitalization that acts as if what you need to do to get a city going again is to build more stuff ... Innovation districts are … a hypothesis; they’re not a proven strategy at this point in time. I think they’re as sensible a hypothesis as any one out there, but they’re merely a hypothesis ... It’s very hard to imagine how you can have anything that can be plausibly called an innovation district if 10 percent of your adults have college degrees ... It’s all about having smart people who are connected by urban density and who learn from each other and work with each other.
All of the above are Glaeser's words. If you know his work, you aren't surprised. Cities should get smarter before building innovation districts. Don't build innovation districts to get smarter. In that regard, Glaeser and I are on the same page.
"[A]ll about having smart people who are connected by urban density and who learn from each other and work with each other" is a hypothesis, too. The positive correlation between urban density and innovation may support Alfred Marshall's hypothesis, but doesn't prove it. In this regard, Glaeser and I are on different pages.
Glaeser is a market ideologue. He makes the facts fit his a priori conclusions. An overwhelming error of urban policy over the past 15 years has been to follow a Jane Jacobs East Village strategy of urban revitalization that acts as if what you need to do to get a city going again is to build denser stuff. Denser makes it better. Marshall told me so. Enough said.
We are to question the innovation district, but not the density hypothesis. Instead of cities building more stuff, cities should cram into small spaces more smart people. Both approaches offer to put more of something into a given space. Stand back and then let the market magic happen. Color me skeptical.