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Richard Florida on The Crash of 2008

Richard Florida, former Buffalo resident and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, has a great article in the March issue of The Atlantic.  Florida, proponent of the mega-region, has written extensively about how cities like Buffalo can survive and thrive

In his Atlantic article, Florida outlines his view on how the credit crisis will reshape America.  The entire article is well worth the read, but here is the punch line (in the form of four paragraphs):

If there is one constant in the history of capitalist development,
it is the ever-more-intensive use of space. Today, we need to begin
making smarter use of both our urban spaces and the suburban rings that
surround them–packing in more people, more affordably, while at the
same time improving their quality of life. That means liberal zoning
and building codes within cities to allow more residential development,
more mixed-use development in suburbs and cities alike, the in-filling
of suburban cores near rail links, new investment in rail, and
congestion pricing for travel on our roads. Not everyone wants to live
in city centers, and the suburbs are not about to disappear. But we can
do a much better job of connecting suburbs to cities and to each other,
and allowing regions to grow bigger and denser without losing their
velocity.

Finally, we need to be clear that ultimately, we can’t stop the
decline of some places, and that we would be foolish to try. Places
like Pittsburgh have shown that a city can stay vibrant as it shrinks,
by redeveloping its core to attract young professionals and creative
types, and by cultivating high-growth services and industries. And in
limited ways, we can help faltering cities to manage their decline
better, and to sustain better lives for the people who stay in them.

But different eras favor different places, along with the industries
and lifestyles those places embody. Band-Aids and bailouts cannot
change that. Neither auto-company rescue packages nor policies designed
to artificially prop up housing prices will position the country for
renewed growth, at least not of the sustainable variety. We need to let
demand for the key products and lifestyles of the old order fall, and
begin building a new economy, based on a new geography.

What will this geography look like? It will likely be sparser in the
Midwest and also, ultimately, in those parts of the Southeast that are
dependent on manufacturing. Its suburbs will be thinner and its houses,
perhaps, smaller. Some of its southwestern cities will grow less
quickly. Its great mega-regions will rise farther upward and extend
farther outward. It will feature a lower rate of homeownership, and a
more mobile population of renters. In short, it will be a more
concentrated geography, one that allows more people to mix more freely
and interact more efficiently in a discrete number of dense, innovative
mega-regions and creative cities. Serendipitously, it will be a
landscape suited to a world in which petroleum is no longer cheap by
any measure. But most of all, it will be a landscape that can
accommodate and accelerate invention, innovation, and creation–the
activities in which the U.S. still holds a big competitive advantage.

Florida writes frequently at his site CreativeClass.  Check it out.

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