Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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Joel Kotkin of Foreign Policy waxes on about how suburbs, not cities, are the answer, because population alone doesn’t make a city World Class, especially when it’s marred with a complete lack of infrastructure and capital.

In short, he critiques the developing world’s contribution to urbanization by creating the world’s largest slums to date.

However, he’s only half right.¬†Yes, Jakarta is no New York, but neither is Zurich.

Kotkin doesn’t realize that it is the heterogeneity that fosters the cultural zeitgeist of the Ur-city. Sure, you can have little economic powerhouses like western Europe, but they’re really just homogeneous suburbs of a different sort: Pushing the poor out of your jurisdiction doesn’t make your city better. It just increases class segregation – and that’s all suburbs are, segregated communities.

Yeah, it ain’t just population, but it ain’t just money either: Else-wise Tokyo would be on top, not New York. What’s holding the likes of Tokyo or Shanghai back aren’t that they’re too dense or that their respective countries are over-urbanizing, but that they’re monoliths demographically.

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