Review – Triumph of the City

Triumph of the City
How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
Edward Glaeser, PhD

In his widely acclaimed book, Dr. Glaeser extolls the virtues of large cities, in fact the bigger the better.  He explores how residents of the largest cities are healthier, wealthier, smarter, more productive, and greener than folks living in smaller places.

In his 270-page book, the author takes us on a tour of several of the world’s largest and most important cities to tell their story and help us understand what makes some cities thrive, while others (like Detroit) fail.

However, Dr. Glaeser is an economist, not an urbanist, and his examples and arguments seem simplistic and naïve when one is familiar with the forces influencing urban development.  He falls back on the popular practice of cherry-picking certain examples which illustrate his point.

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Best Baseball Cities

A baseball lies in a freshly fallen leaves

October!  The most special month of the year for every baseball fan.  The World Series determines the best baseball team, but did you ever wonder which place can lay claim to the best baseball city?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great baseball town.  We decided it’s more than wins and losses, attendance, and championships.  It’s where there’s a batting cage in every backyard, kids sleep with their mitts, and families spend their entire weekend at the Little League field.

We realized that every big-league ballplayer represents thousands of kids who once dreamed playing in the Big Show.

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America’s Coolest Cities

rock and roll musician Lou Reed

This July was the hottest on record in the U.S. and 2012 is on track to be our hottest year ever. You better believe Americans are cranking the A/C and heading for the swimming holes.

But when it comes to my “cool cities” study, I’m talking about the other kind of cool.  The sunglasses, Levi’s and t-shirt James Dean cool.

I worked with Forbes with their article to find where the youth of America are headed, where it’s “happening.”  Would you believe Houston comes out on top?  Last year H-town sported a vigorous 2.6% job growth while welcoming over 50,000 new residents to the area, many of them young professionals.

We looked at recreational opportunities, such as amount of green space, golfing and skiing, and pro and college sports teams.

We also used my Diversity Index, which measures the likelihood that someone you meet will be of different race or ethnicity.  Higher diversity translates to a greater number of cool stores, events, and eateries.

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Positive U.S. Education

Asian children in a classroom working

I use a lot of metrics to measure and rate the quality of life in different cities and towns.  I haven’t seen anyone else use this particular measure but I think it provides a good insight into the sociological health of a place.

So, I was heartened to read about a trend in New York City.

Where the cost of living (and private schooling) is amongst the highest in the world, some of the wealthy are opting to send their kids to public schools.  There’s a twist as well – it’s foreigners who are leading this charge.

Why do they do it?

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Two more reasons I’m proud to be an American

Here are two headlines on today’s NPR home page.
Be sure to click on the links and read the complete stories.

Muslims Rescue Bagel Shop, Keep It Kosher
Coney Island Bialys and Bagels claims to be the oldest bialy bakery in New York City. Founded in 1920, it’s faced hard economic times and changing neighborhood demographics.
Now, the shop has been rescued by two Pakistani Muslims — and they’re keeping it kosher.

 Texas Town Embraces New Refugee Residents
Though some states have cracked down hard on illegal immigration, one small Texas town has rolled out the welcome mat for hundreds of foreigners and wouldn’t mind seeing more move in.
It started about a year ago when a chicken processing plant in Nacogdoches, Texas, announced it would hire a couple hundred new workers, all of them refugees from Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Sleepless Cities

The results of our newest study were released today on the CBS show, Sunday Morning.  Louisville, KY earned the top spot of Most Sleepless City, and Honolulu residents got the best rest in our study of insomnia.
(see the video clip on CBS)

Our new study ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, home to fully half of the U.S. population.  The Sperling study analyzes over 400,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (the world’s largest telephone survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and also considers factors contributing to poor sleep,
such as joblessness, divorce, and lengthy commuting.

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