As Cities Grow, Innovation Follows

As the manufacturing industry left American metropolises for the east, our cities became something even greater: idea factories. Cities are the engines of innovation and they are growing. 

What's the Latest Development?

The regeneration of classic cities like New York and the recent burgeoning of ones like Bangalore and Rio de Janeiro owe their success to the power of human collaboration, says Edward Glaeser, author of the new book Triumph of the City. "In the richer countries of the West, cities have survived the tumultuous end of the industrial age and are now wealthier, healthier, and more alluring than ever," says Glaeser. The statistics seem overwhelming: 243 million Americans live in three percent of its (urban) space and five million more people each month move to urban centers in the developing world.

What's the Big Idea?

According to Glaeser, cities have been centers for innovation ever since "Plato and Socrates bickered in an Athenian marketplace." Ironically, at a time when communication technologies are making physical proximity less necessary that ever before, at least in principle, the importance of living and working in close quarters has increased. Proximity to our fellow humans is what powers the innovation engine of cities, says Glaeser. Cities catalyze innovation solutions and, despite our romantic pastoral notions, are more friendly to our environment. 

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