- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (April 11, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465079741
- ISBN-13: 978-0465079742
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class?and What We Can Do About It 1st Edition
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Wall Street Journal:
"The New Urban Crisis bracingly confronts this tension between big-city elites and the urban underclass...Mr. Florida is right that there are really twin crises: inequality and segregation... The government should concentrate on helping poor people, not poor places. After all, the American economy will not benefit from stemming the flow of people from less productive places to more productive ones. The answer instead is, as Mr. Florida nicely puts it in his conclusion, a 'new and better urbanism.'"
The Washington Post:
"[Richard Florida] vividly expose[s] how gentrification, followed by rising housing costs, concentrated affluence and glaring inequality, has pushed the displaced into deteriorating suburbs far from mass transit, employment, services and decent schools.... [The New Urban Crisis is] nuanced and proposes solutions."
"Florida draws subtle, thoughtful inferences from his research, and he writes in slick, approachable prose...Throughout, the author remains an idealistic, perceptive observer of cities' transformations. A sobering account of inequality and spatial conflict rising against a cultural backdrop of urban change."
"Urban planners should consider the case being made for the need to address a new urban crisis. A thought-provoking work for those interested in all stages of urban planning and placemaking."
Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic:
"I loved The New Urban Crisis. Richard Florida writes about the tensions and the divides that have emerged within and between cities, between the broader community-and I felt it throughout the book and loved it."
The Englewood Review of Books:
"A keen assessment of the state of global cities in 2017, and a vision for how they need to move forward."
California Planning & Development Report:
"The New Urban Crisis provides a tidy, timely summary of the current urban problem, in all its enormity."
"The New Urban Crisis deserves to stand alongside Thomas Piketty's Capital In The Twenty-First Century as an essential diagnosis of our contemporary ills, and a clear-eyed prescription of how to cure them. It's also a rare and compelling example of a great intellect displaying the courage to re-think his older ideas in the face of changing circumstances. Anyone interested in the crisis of inequality and in the vitality of our cities will want to read this book."
-Steven Johnson, author of How We Got To Now and Where Good Ideas Come From
"Richard Florida offers a brilliant assessment of the varied and evolving challenges facing our cities today. At a time when cities are more important than ever to our economic and political future, The New Urban Crisis is essential reading for urban leaders and all city-dwellers."
-Richard M. Daley, former mayor of Chicago
"Richard Florida demonstrates again that he is one of the most discerning (and provocative) observers of the great metropolitan migrations of the past 60 years. Using masses of carefully curated demographic data, he identifies the winners and losers of the widespread 'urban resurgence' of the past couple of decades. His observations are disquieting on many levels, and Florida doesn't shy away from proposing bold and sometimes costly solutions. The New Urban Crisis is certain to be one of the most widely debated books of the year."
-Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado
"Cites are engines for prosperity and progress, but it's essential that the benefits extend far and wide. Florida proposes promising ideas for building stronger cities that offer greater opportunities for all."
-Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City
"Richard Florida is the great pioneer thinker who first explained how the influx of creative people was reviving cities. Now he takes the next step: looking for ways to make this urbanism more inclusive. Florida takes a hard look at the problems and, as usual, comes up with some smart new policies. Making cities work for all residents is one of the great economic, political, and moral issues of our time."
"This is the book we have been waiting for. Richard Florida is the greatest American urbanist of our time. In this book, he thoughtfully and forcefully confronts how Americans' return to our cities has brought incredible cultural and economic renewal but without careful and thoughtful land use, infrastructure, and economic justice initiatives, this renewal is leaving a disappearing middle class in its wake. This is an indispensable read for policy makers, students, educators, and all urban dwellers alike. Florida sketches an urgent roadmap to ensure that America's urban revival brings prosperity to everyone, not just a few."
-Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles
"A sweeping narrative of the most significant human movement of our times: global urbanization. Richard Florida lays out with unassailable facts and clear vision the convergence of an urgent human development-the drive for more livable cities and the quest for a more sustainable planet. Clear, compelling, and full of vision."
-Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland
"Perceptions of urban crisis are steeped in the past, dominated by images of deindustrialization, economic decline, high crime, the hollowing out of cities, and rampant suburbanization. Urban divergence is the reality today-superstar cities like New York are thriving like never before while other cities continue to languish. Suburban communities are also tackling problems once thought unique to cities, and as the recent presidential election revealed, the divide between urban and rural has deepened. The urbanist Richard Florida, famous for his work on the creative class, turns his attention in The New Urban Crisis to the paradox of our times-the "clustering force" of concentrated talent and economic activity is simultaneously an engine for urban growth and a driver of inequality. Not everyone will agree, but the general public, leaders, and students of cities will profit by engaging his provocative data and ideas. Don't be fooled by the title-crisis is double-edged and at the end, Florida lays out an ambitious but concrete plan for a renewed and more equitable urbanism. Rather than provoking angst, The New Urban Crisis is an inspired and pointed call to action."
-Robert J. Sampson, Harvard University and author of Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
"Our ability to innovate and grow our economy and job base will be a result of our ability to educate and cluster talent and reimagine our infrastructure, while having a diverse work force with access to transit systems and housing to support that growth. In his new book, Richard Florida does an incredible job in not only laying out these issues facing the great urbanization of America with compelling data, but in offering thoughtful solutions to the challenges and opportunities."
-Jodie W. McLean, Chief Executive Officer, EDENS
"Like the superstar cities it describes, this book is dense, complex and stimulating. Florida's well-researched and fluent expos? of inequality is a wake-up call to all the major actors engaged in planning, designing and managing cities in the 21st century."
-Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies, London School of Economics
About the Author
Richard Florida is University Professor and Director of Cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Distinguished Fellow at NYU's Schack Institute of Real Estate. He is Senior Editor at The Atlantic, editor-at-large for The Atlantic's CityLab, and founder of the Creative Class Group.
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As Florida accurately notes the influx of the creative class into the cities of America brought with it rising real estate prices that exacerbated pre-existing income inequality, racial segregation and spatial segregation of the well-off from the poor. This has been especially true in the super star cities of New York and Los Angeles and the education/tech hubs of Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. In those cities the demand-driven house price increases were exacerbated by the planning and zoning controls put in place by the very creative class that Florida champions. If you don’t believe me, just look at the over-the-top real estate ads that appear regularly in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. As a result the creative class has been enriched and the middle class is being forced out. Thus in urban America zoning is the engine of economic inequality.
All of this was true from the 1980s on and most, if not all of it, were accomplished under the auspices of urban liberal regimes. Florida’s major error is that he conflates social liberalism with economic liberalism. While his creative class may largely support immigration, gay rights and a high degree of tolerance for different lifestyles; they do not necessarily believe that social liberalism requires them to make personal sacrifices with respect to their tax burden, the schools their children go to and the location of affordable housing in their neighborhoods. For example the liberal voters of Los Angeles just voted to tax themselves to provide housing for the homeless. However there are no neighborhoods volunteering to accommodate such housing.
Now Florida to his credit understands all of this. He offers several commendable proposals to offset the income inequality generated by his creative class. I fully agree with him that urban/suburban densities ought to be substantially increased, additional density bonuses ought to be issued to allow for an affordable housing component in major developments, property taxation should build on the ideas of Henry George by taxing site value alone rather than land and improvements, transportation infrastructure should be expanded to accommodate higher densities, and low income earners need an expanded earned income tax credit. Further he sensibly understands that rent control is not part of the solution.
Where I would disagree with him is that he advocates a substantial increase in the minimum wage on metro-area by metro area basis. The problem here is that substantially higher minimum wages may worsen the problem it seeks to solve and recent research out of the University of Washington on Seattle’s minimum wage tends to support my skepticism. We are also in an age of artificial intelligence and that will work to obliterate routine task jobs in food service and retail.
Where I really differ with Florida is that he thinks that his creative class will support substantially increased urban densities. Here I am very skeptical because it is the legally savvy creative class who has refined protesting new developments to a high art. Listen, I hope he is right, but I am not holding my breath. Three last points, he leaves out a discussion on self-driving vehicles which might work to decrease urban densities by making long distance commuting far easier. He fails to even mention the underbelly of every major city in America, unfunded pension liabilities largely created by that bulwark of urban liberalism, the public employee unions. And third he is silent on the state sponsored child abuse that takes place in all too many urban school systems. I am hopeful he will discuss these three items in a future book.
Despite my critique, Florida’s data driven analysis told us how we got to this place in urban America today and for that he deserves much credit.
What I liked the most: Florida complies lots of factual data, and here and there makes a point that is actually interesting. For example:
1. he notes that housing prices have grown by 3.5 percent per year in San Francisco since 1950- more than twice the national average.
2. Florida discusses the toxic impact of land use regulation that limits the housing supply; for example, he cites one study suggesting if everyone who wanted to live in cities like San Francisco and New York could afford to live there, the resulting wage increase would add 13.5 percent to America's GDP.
3. The conventional wisdom is that high housing costs make high-cost metros a bad deal. Florida suggests that (especially for the upper and upper middle classes) the benefits of higher wages outweigh this cost. After housing costs, the average worker has $42,120 left over in New York, and just over $26,000 left over in low-cost Las Vegas. However, this impact varies by class: in the "creative class" (Florida's term for high-income workers) the New Yorker comes out $18,000 ahead, but for the low-wage "service class" the New Yorker only comes out $3,000 ahead. For what's left of the industrial working class, New York only comes out $240 ahead (which I suspect is canceled out by New York's higher taxes).
4. Ch. 7 includes lots of charts and maps showing how metro areas vary. In high-cost, prosperous New York and San Francisco both cities and suburbs have rich areas and poor areas. But in other regions, suburbia has the lion's share of regional wealth. Despite all the public discussion of gentrification, there is no metro area where wealth is concentrated in cities.
Like many liberals, Florida complains about inequality. He writes that inequality "can be, and often is, a drag on economic growth." But a page later he writes: "very few US cities or metro areas have been able to combine high levels of economic growth with low levels of inequality." I'm not sure how these positions fit together.
The last two chapters are the weakest and probably should have been left for another book. In his chapter on global urbanization, he writes that for much of the developing world, "urbanization has been a near total failure." But after showing that even third-world cities are more productive than their rural neighbors, he writes just five pages later: "urbanization, warts and all, is better than the alternative." I am not sure how these statements fit together.
His last chapter is a hodgepodge of tax-and-spend remedies. Unlike extreme progressives, he does not favor huge increases in government regulation; for example, he is skeptical of rent control and favors new housing construction. But unlike conservatives he favors a more generous welfare state and a higher minimum wage. These issues are sufficiently complex that Florida probably should have left them for his next book rather than giving them cursory treatment in this one.
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