Triumph of the City Book Review

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・1 Sources

In the book Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser suggests that San Francisco is an ‘urban star’ because it reflects what he considers to be a successful city. According to Glaeser, a affluent city is the one which attracts human capital and promotes social networks. Before the invention of the Internet, cities were used as social hubs where humans would meet and share innovative and creative ideas to enhance their lives. Cities also entice people who are eager to make their lives higher and establish a better future. In this regard, people migrate from rural areas to city ones to take advantage of the great opportunities offered by the cities. Therefore, cities triumph if they can attract smart people and offer them a good environment to work creatively and cooperatively to enhance their social and economic welfare. Examples of cities that have thrived through human capital and innovation are: Florence, Birmingham, London, Bangalore, and Tokyo. These cities were successful because they attracted skilled human capital that produced new ways of thinking leading to innovation and growth. Based on Glaeser’s criteria for a prosperous city, San Francisco may be considered as a triumphing city because it has a dense population of talented and creative people, many socio-cultural institutions, and several buildings which house creative entrepreneurs, consumers and businesses.

One of the reasons why San Francisco is triumphing is the fact it has a large population of people. The central point of Glaeser is that cities are made up of people who contribute human skills and creativity to the development process of the city. He opposes environmentalists for failing to think globally from the perspective of human population growth and development. According to Glaeser, population density helps because “labor productivity and wages are significantly high in places with high density” (Glaeser147). In this regard, a successful city should be devoted to constructing compact and tall buildings to house more people and businesses efficiently. Dense population reduces the costs of living in cities because it dicreases the pressure to destroy older buildings.

San Francisco qualifies the population criterion. The city has a large number of people, mostly young ones, looking for employment in the city. The dense population of San Francisco helps to bring a large pool of talents and skills needed to develop innovative ideas in the city. Furthermore, San Francisco has a lot of buildings and structures that host many people and businesses to flourish the city. The thickly-peopled city of San Francisco experiences high wages and labor productivity. It is easy to develop dense populations in San Francisco due to its effective urban planning approaches which encourage new and well organized structures that can house many talented people to provide human capital and creative ideas to the city (Glaeser 38).

Successful cities are also characterized by the high quality of life. According to Glaeser, cities are naturally places of high performance because their cultural institutions such as museums, infrastructure, and theaters have a wide range of contributors. Cities have a large concentration of audience for all types of cultural and social institutions including pubs, theaters, gathering spots, museums, bars and cafes. These social places improve people’s quality of life by providing entertainment, food catering and other important functions of human life. These cultural institutions benefit the city life and create a consumer city (Glaeser 131). In consumer cities, people can easily find entertainment, diversity, creativity, and innovative ideas. The social and cultural institutions also attract people who come together to collaborate.

San Francisco is one of the cities with high quality of life. It has several theaters, museums, pubs, restaurants, and other gathering spots where people can meet and share ideas. The city offers great opportunities for entertainment and work, leading to improved quality of life. It is good hub of highly creative entrepreneurs and many social institutions where the working population can meet for entertainment and collaboration purposes (Glaeser 118). San Francisco offers a good environment for socioeconomic development to occur because it provides sufficient social institutions for the working population to enjoy their leisure time and improve their quality of life in general.

San Francisco is also triumphing because it values people. Glaeser argues that a city is not about buildings and structures but people (143). A city is basically a mass of people interconnected through humanity. In this regard, successful cities are those that have sound public policies which focus on the welfare of people. According to Glaeser, poverty is not a problem to a city but one of the distinguishing features of a city life. Poor people are not a burden to the city; on the contrary, they play a significant role in building the city. The city offers the poor chances to find employment opportunities, and they provide their labor and skills to help in building the city. They are also consumers for the various products and services offered by creative entrepreneurs and business people in the city.

San Francisco also has some aspects of a failing city, which may be enhanced in order to reach the ultimate triumph of a typical city like Florence or New York. One of the factors of a failing city is environmentalism. Glaeser suggests that fake green developments in cities such as Texas tend to cause “unintended consequences of environmentalism” (210). San Francisco has also embraced environmentalism through green development initiatives, parks, and other environmental protection approaches. A failing city is also one where the poor people do not get the required support to improve their lives. There are many low-income people in San Francisco who need greater support from the government in order to triumph.

Indeed, San Francisco meets Glaeser’s criteria of a successful city, including dense and poor populations, many tall buildings, and a good source of human capital. According to Glaeser, a prosperous city has a large population of creative and innovative people who meet in the city to share ideas and collaborate to make their lives better. A flourishing city recognizes people’s quality of life and the social nature of humanity. San Francisco has several socio-cultural institutions which offer entertainment and meeting places for people to collaborate and improve their social welfare. Therefore, San Francisco is triumphing because it has a dense population of talented and creative people, many socio-cultural institutions, and tall buildings which house creative entrepreneurs, consumers and businesses.

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Works Cited

Glaeser, Edward. Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention Makes us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier. London: Penguin, 2011. Print.

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