It takes a lot of reflection to contradict an idea that for many, is the centerpiece of your reputation as an author and analyst. In his new book The New Urban Crisis, Richard Florida admitted his previous championing of the new creative class—and the idea that tech and design businesses would reinvigorate cities—didn’t anticipate how this rapidly reshaping economy would create urban inequality. A key phrase from the book, “winner-take-all-urbanism” essentially describes the Hunger Games-esque contest over Amazon’s HQ2 and exemplifies the stakes for cities in today’s fast-moving economy. It’s not just a takeaway, but a call-to-arms for local leaders looking to combat the growing divide between the wealthy and poverty.
It may be a “call-to-arms” but it is interesting that this is not followed up with descriptions of actual cities successfully combating inequality. Cities, on the whole, tend to privilege development projects from those with money who want to make more money. (This is not limited just to city leaders; media outlets often act as boosters and business leaders certainly trumpet more opportunities to make money.) In contrast, projects or problems that need addressing that would help more average residents – affordable housing would be a great example – do not get as much attention.
Perhaps I am just overly pessimistic on this so I would love to hear of a major American city that is clearly addressing inequality rather than promoting growth machines.