This title isn’t available with your membership

We’re working with the publisher to make it available as soon as possible.If you’d like to read it immediately, you can purchase this title individually.

Request Title
A pioneering urban economist presents a myth-shattering look at the majesty and greatness of cities.

America is an urban nation, yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly . . . or are they? In this revelatory book, Edward Glaeser, a leading urban economist, declares that cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in both cultural and economic terms) places to live. He travels through history and around the globe to reveal the hidden workings of cities and how they bring out the best in humankind. Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and cogent argument, Glaeser makes an urgent, eloquent case for the city's importance and splendor, offering inspiring proof that the city is humanity's greatest creation and our best hope for the future.

Published: Penguin Group on Feb 10, 2011
ISBN: 9781101475676
List price: $12.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser
Available as a separate purchase
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Clear rating

Glaesar's book is an analysis of the city as one of the great inventions of humanity and the connections the city fosters being a moving force behind human ingenuity and progress. Cities are seen as a place with poor people living in slums yet Glaesar demonstrates that cities actually draw poor people because cities offer them opportunities to improve their lives. Glaesar also demonstrates that cities are more environmentally friendly than suburbs. He criticizes how government policies tend to encourage sprawl and expensive housing. Several cities (including my own, Boston) are cited as examples of successful cities. If there's one thing that does make me uneasy about this book is Glaesar's uncritical support of free-market capitalism, but he does make a good point that governments should spend money to help the poor but not spend money on poor places, an important distinction. My opinion is already biased toward cities, but I believe this book makes a great argument toward encouraging dense well-managed cities as the sustainable way to go for humanity's future.Favorite Passages:"The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization's success and the primary reason why cities exist. To understand our cities and what to do about them, we must hold on to those truths and dispatch harmful myths. We must discard the view that environmentalism means living around tree and that urbanites should always fight to preserve a city's physical past. We must stop idolizing home ownership which favors suburban tract homes over high-rise apartments, and stop romanticizing rural villages. We should eschew the simplistic view that better long-distance communication will reduce our desire and need to be near one another. Above all, we must free ourselves from our tendency to see cities as their buildings, and remember that the real city is made of flesh, not concrete." - p. 15read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book should come with a surgeon general's warning: Reading this book may harm your brain and heart. The harm to the heart is caused by the author's extreme callousness. Glaeser is the poster-child of the "some are more equal" Reagan revolution. His Upper West Side Ivy Prep School features 113 faculty for 613 students, a ratio a struggling kid in the Bronx certainly will equalize by displaying greater effort. The unity in the school's Dutch motto "Eendracht Maakt Macht" probably applies only to the select few.He applauds poor people's misery. Individually, the author claims that misery pressures poor people to seek to market and explore their true talents in a Social Darwinian competition. Collectively, poverty in a city, according to the author, is a sign of success, because the reserve army of the poor could be living in even more desperate places in the countryside. The struggling poor alone, however, are necessary but not sufficient for the triumph of a city. For this, a city needs to answer the question Glaeser asks multiple times: What makes a city attractive to a billionaire? Coddling the billionaires is the main purpose of this book. Let the poor, who, in a US context, are of a different pigmentation than the author, eat cake! In a twist of history, the poor today are no longer hungry (at least, those not on food assistance or food deprived) but obese (because, as Glaeser writes in another paper, they "have self-control problems".). A truly ugly mind.Apart from his philosophy, his facts are questionable too. Much is pure "truthiness" of the David Brooks and Tom Friedman variety. One of his key examples for the triumph of the city is Silicon Valley which takes quite a bit of mind-bending before one can subsume it under the term "city". What he actually means is known as cluster development theory developed by Michael Porter or Paul Krugman (both absent in Glaeser's book intellectually and in the bibliography). In his muddled understanding of clusters, Glaeser's key recommendation is investment in education (which only works if the educated contribute and create to a city's unique competitive advantage which nowadays has to be near global). Glaeser also fails to understand specialization. His advice is for the world to become more like Manhattan, Singapore or London. The world, however, does not need multiple Manhattans. To the contrary, Manhattan's first mover advantage means that many industries cluster there and it would be futile to try to compete with them from afar.The next idea Glaeser manages to misunderstand is urban density. Again, he sees Manhattan's sky scrapers as the perfect solution. Stupid Paris and London, which do not want to bulldoze their old buildings for skyscrapers in the heart of their city centers. At least, Glaeser acknowledges that in those cities, their sky scrapers are clustered outside the center, easily reachable by public transportation. Glaeser's view of Paris seems to be shaped more from Amélie than the real city, but facts have never been much of an impediment to anti-French sentiment in the US. If Glaeser had researched beyond his dream of urban business and condominium towers for the rich, he might have become aware that the anonymity and lack of public surveillance can create enormous social problems (see French HLM or Chicago or Philly projects). His skyscraper utopia could turn ugly really quickly (but then, it would only confirm his prejudices about "those people").His final idea is uncontroversial in enlightened societies. Urban people use less natural resources than those living in rural areas. Glaeser examined a truly unhelpful question. Texas would naturally become greener if it looked like New York city, but how likely is that? A sensible approach would have compared energy utilization in Texas compared to one in, say, Southern Europe, thus exposing the giant energy waste in Texas. Glaeser straddles the idea of ecological behavior with a soft climate change denialism (either a personal opinion or in deference to his audience). As he is "not a climatologist", it "appears", "seems" etc. that climate change is happening. The science is in. Or does he think that the Holocaust "seems" to have occurred, because as a non-historian he can not venture beyond a guess? Climate change denial today is not far from denying the Holocaust. Only those who pursue a certain agenda have a need to engage in word play. It is truly strange that so called economists should have a problem with a carbon tax to compensate for externalities.In sum, a book only partially grounded in reality, based on an incomplete and often wrong understanding of theory, mixed with a truly toxic political philosophy, is the perfect candidate to become a US bestseller and to be praised by The Economist and the usual suspects. Cities, if well managed, were, are and will be the drivers of economic growth. Glaeser's book only detracts from the discussion. Avoid.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Glaeser's thesis is that cities are a critical force in human civilization, and are much greener and more sustainable than sprawl. I now understand why New York is such a magnent, and why my husband and I both travel a considerable distance to well paying jobs in our field in New York. The issue is critical mass, and the kind of stimulation and cross fertilization that comes from the very density that on a bad day drives us nuts! Well worth a read, particularly if you need lessons in appreciating the awesome power of the urban lifestyle that you are feeling ambivalent about.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

Glaesar's book is an analysis of the city as one of the great inventions of humanity and the connections the city fosters being a moving force behind human ingenuity and progress. Cities are seen as a place with poor people living in slums yet Glaesar demonstrates that cities actually draw poor people because cities offer them opportunities to improve their lives. Glaesar also demonstrates that cities are more environmentally friendly than suburbs. He criticizes how government policies tend to encourage sprawl and expensive housing. Several cities (including my own, Boston) are cited as examples of successful cities. If there's one thing that does make me uneasy about this book is Glaesar's uncritical support of free-market capitalism, but he does make a good point that governments should spend money to help the poor but not spend money on poor places, an important distinction. My opinion is already biased toward cities, but I believe this book makes a great argument toward encouraging dense well-managed cities as the sustainable way to go for humanity's future.Favorite Passages:"The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization's success and the primary reason why cities exist. To understand our cities and what to do about them, we must hold on to those truths and dispatch harmful myths. We must discard the view that environmentalism means living around tree and that urbanites should always fight to preserve a city's physical past. We must stop idolizing home ownership which favors suburban tract homes over high-rise apartments, and stop romanticizing rural villages. We should eschew the simplistic view that better long-distance communication will reduce our desire and need to be near one another. Above all, we must free ourselves from our tendency to see cities as their buildings, and remember that the real city is made of flesh, not concrete." - p. 15
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book should come with a surgeon general's warning: Reading this book may harm your brain and heart. The harm to the heart is caused by the author's extreme callousness. Glaeser is the poster-child of the "some are more equal" Reagan revolution. His Upper West Side Ivy Prep School features 113 faculty for 613 students, a ratio a struggling kid in the Bronx certainly will equalize by displaying greater effort. The unity in the school's Dutch motto "Eendracht Maakt Macht" probably applies only to the select few.He applauds poor people's misery. Individually, the author claims that misery pressures poor people to seek to market and explore their true talents in a Social Darwinian competition. Collectively, poverty in a city, according to the author, is a sign of success, because the reserve army of the poor could be living in even more desperate places in the countryside. The struggling poor alone, however, are necessary but not sufficient for the triumph of a city. For this, a city needs to answer the question Glaeser asks multiple times: What makes a city attractive to a billionaire? Coddling the billionaires is the main purpose of this book. Let the poor, who, in a US context, are of a different pigmentation than the author, eat cake! In a twist of history, the poor today are no longer hungry (at least, those not on food assistance or food deprived) but obese (because, as Glaeser writes in another paper, they "have self-control problems".). A truly ugly mind.Apart from his philosophy, his facts are questionable too. Much is pure "truthiness" of the David Brooks and Tom Friedman variety. One of his key examples for the triumph of the city is Silicon Valley which takes quite a bit of mind-bending before one can subsume it under the term "city". What he actually means is known as cluster development theory developed by Michael Porter or Paul Krugman (both absent in Glaeser's book intellectually and in the bibliography). In his muddled understanding of clusters, Glaeser's key recommendation is investment in education (which only works if the educated contribute and create to a city's unique competitive advantage which nowadays has to be near global). Glaeser also fails to understand specialization. His advice is for the world to become more like Manhattan, Singapore or London. The world, however, does not need multiple Manhattans. To the contrary, Manhattan's first mover advantage means that many industries cluster there and it would be futile to try to compete with them from afar.The next idea Glaeser manages to misunderstand is urban density. Again, he sees Manhattan's sky scrapers as the perfect solution. Stupid Paris and London, which do not want to bulldoze their old buildings for skyscrapers in the heart of their city centers. At least, Glaeser acknowledges that in those cities, their sky scrapers are clustered outside the center, easily reachable by public transportation. Glaeser's view of Paris seems to be shaped more from Amélie than the real city, but facts have never been much of an impediment to anti-French sentiment in the US. If Glaeser had researched beyond his dream of urban business and condominium towers for the rich, he might have become aware that the anonymity and lack of public surveillance can create enormous social problems (see French HLM or Chicago or Philly projects). His skyscraper utopia could turn ugly really quickly (but then, it would only confirm his prejudices about "those people").His final idea is uncontroversial in enlightened societies. Urban people use less natural resources than those living in rural areas. Glaeser examined a truly unhelpful question. Texas would naturally become greener if it looked like New York city, but how likely is that? A sensible approach would have compared energy utilization in Texas compared to one in, say, Southern Europe, thus exposing the giant energy waste in Texas. Glaeser straddles the idea of ecological behavior with a soft climate change denialism (either a personal opinion or in deference to his audience). As he is "not a climatologist", it "appears", "seems" etc. that climate change is happening. The science is in. Or does he think that the Holocaust "seems" to have occurred, because as a non-historian he can not venture beyond a guess? Climate change denial today is not far from denying the Holocaust. Only those who pursue a certain agenda have a need to engage in word play. It is truly strange that so called economists should have a problem with a carbon tax to compensate for externalities.In sum, a book only partially grounded in reality, based on an incomplete and often wrong understanding of theory, mixed with a truly toxic political philosophy, is the perfect candidate to become a US bestseller and to be praised by The Economist and the usual suspects. Cities, if well managed, were, are and will be the drivers of economic growth. Glaeser's book only detracts from the discussion. Avoid.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Glaeser's thesis is that cities are a critical force in human civilization, and are much greener and more sustainable than sprawl. I now understand why New York is such a magnent, and why my husband and I both travel a considerable distance to well paying jobs in our field in New York. The issue is critical mass, and the kind of stimulation and cross fertilization that comes from the very density that on a bad day drives us nuts! Well worth a read, particularly if you need lessons in appreciating the awesome power of the urban lifestyle that you are feeling ambivalent about.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Edward Glaeser is a Harvard economist who has lived much of his life in major cities. In this highly-readable book he provides an economist's view of how and why cities work (or fail to work). The book is full of examples drawn from major cities of the U.S. and the world (Boston, New York, Detroit, Houston, Paris, Vancouver, Bangalore, etc.) Glaeser describes the interactions between growth and affordability, arguing that cities which restrict growth via height limits, excessive preservation, and NIMBYism are much more expensive to live in (New York, Boston, Silicon Valley), while cities with less restrictive development rules are more affordable (Houston). Glaeser also argues that public policy should address poverty (urban poverty in this case) by investing in people, not places. So he favors government efforts to provide education and to make cities safe and healthy, but large infrastructure projects in a declining city will not reverse the city's fortune. In his discussion of urban sprawl, Glaeser describes the many ways that government policies tilt the table in favor of suburban sprawl and away from cities. While Glaeser clearly likes cities, this is not a diatribe against suburban living. He repeatedly says that it is fine for people who want large houses on large lots to live that way. He simply argues that it isn't good for the government to subsidize this life-style choice more than others. And there's lots of other interesting material here---why the age of the internet isn't the death-knell for dense urban centers, "consumer cities" that attract people who want to enjoy the amenities they offer, cities and the environment, etc. Throughout, Glaeser also provides historical overviews of urban trends (cities as a reflection of the local transportation networks, the rise of the suburb, the role of sanitation in keeping cities healthy) and interesting factual tidbits that illustrate his points. For example, "In the United States as a whole, as of 2008, there are 1.8 times as many people working in grocery stores as in full-service restaurants... In Manhattan there are 4.7 times more people working in restaurants than in groceries."
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't agree with everything Glaeser says but overall I found it really interesting, thought-provoking and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I already agreed with him that the density of cities is great and breeds connectivity, new ideas, and creativity. And I also knew that it is much better for the environment for people to cluster together in cities where they use less gas, less energy and contain their impact (as opposed to spreading out in suburbs and rural areas. But I used to be a big fan of preserving all old buildings and not allowing high rises. Glaeser makes a really good case for why we should build up and preserve strategically, not preserve everything blindly. Unless we want our beautiful old cities to only be playgrounds for the rich, and want builders to go elsewhere and sprawl all over the rest of the country....As environmentalists, we need to think about the good of the whole, not just the good of our neighborhood. I still think that there is perhaps an in-between strategy. between low two story buildings and sky-scrapers. And I don't have his blithe faith in the free market. But he makes a lot of really good points and has changed my mind on a number of issues. I hope that politicians, ecologists, and urban planners will all read and discuss this.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An excellent book. Although somnewhat more of a free market liberal economist approach than I would normally take, I have to agree with his basic premises that succesful cities are better for society and mankind generally than the suburbs and rural areas. And to have succesful cities we need migration, education, good governance, space for clever people to interact, quality cultural/leisure activities, a social system that maintains the poor and rich who equally drive the economy and a rebalancing of the pro-suburb bias in national tax and spend policies. Achieving the last is unlikely. But the book still reminded me why I love living in central London.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Load more
scribd