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pdxheel

"This Land"

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I just picked up the book "This Land" by Anthony Flint. For those interested in American development its a great read (atleast so far...I haven't finished it). It discusses why, despite a renewed emphasis in the urban core, American cities continue to sprawl. It goes into the history of development in the US as well as the politics and economics behind it.

If you are interested in this topic, which I would guess most members of UP are, I recommend the book.

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Thanks for the head's up, pdx, I'd be curious to read it as well. I need to get thru about a billion Jane Jacobs pieces, too.

I found this interesting, from the referenced article, the section titled, How Do You Develop?:

In many ways we would simply waste less time and money on what doesn't work:

* Cities and countries wouldn't bother trying to attract transplanted factories (the focus of most current international development). At best this would be seen as a stopgap measure, one step short of charity.

* For similar reasons, there would be less effort spent in coddling big business. Big business can take care of itself; it doesn't need coddling.

* Nations and cities would be alarmed, not pleased, when their prosperity depends on resource extraction; they would realize this is a particularly treacherous type of good fortune, since it is not only transitory, but discourages real development till it's too late.

* Nations and cities would not fear the prosperity of rivals, because a bigger economy benefits everyone. Cities don't stop importing when they replace imports; they simply switch their imports to new things. A Jacobean nation would worry not about rivalry abroad, but about the innovation of new work locally.

As for positive steps:

* If a nation wished to develop a region, it would aim to create an import-replacing city. A Jacobean version of the TVA, for instance, would have tried to make Knoxville into a dynamic city.

* Cities would encourage the creation of small, diverse, and innovative firms. They would remove barriers to development (such as monopolies, racial or caste discrimination, and large-scale zoning), and venture capitalists would finance struggling startups. (Jacobs doesn't say so, but I think a great help in the US would be a national health plan; lack of health coverage is a disincentive for workers to join small companies.)

* A city would concentrate on increments to its existing technology. Tokyo, remember, first developed bicycle repair, not automobile manufacturing. High technology is sexy, but it doesn't really belong to a city until it can produce every piece of it itself.

* The dream of unified currencies would be abandoned, in favor of smaller currency areas which would provide the correct feedback to cities. Cities might also provide temporary tariffs to encourage local production.

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I just got the book in the mail yesterday. Can't wait to dive in.

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Thanks for the head's up, pdx, I'd be curious to read it as well. I need to get thru about a billion Jane Jacobs pieces, too.

It is funny you mention Jane Jacobs. I was at the workout place I go to the other night and pick up a "The Economist" off the magazine rack and it was from May (I think) and in it was the obit for Jane Jacobs who had recently died. I have always wanted to read The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs

For those who may not be familiar with Jane Jacobs, next time you are in NYC and walking around anywhere in Lower Manhattan above the Village to the financial district, you can thank her that there is not an elevated expressway going down the middle of the Peninsula right through Greenwich Village to end point of Manhattan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lower_Manhattan_Expressway

Yea, a big Nimby and I don't agree with her views, but that is one thing she got right and fought the big NY building machine of Robert Moses that took the New Deal projects and beyond into overdrive in NYC from the 30s and using his ideas into the 60s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Moses

A case where one extreme fights another extreme.

PS Sorry I still can not figure out how to hide a link

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For those who may not be familiar with Jane Jacobs, next time you are in NYC and walking around anywhere in Lower Manhattan above the Village to the financial district, you can thank her that there is not an elevated expressway going down the middle of the Peninsula right through Greenwich Village to end point of Manhattan

Things like that make me want to read about her even more! Yeah she just died this past spring and it made headlines, though at the time I thought, Jane Who??

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Things like that make me want to read about her even more! Yeah she just died this past spring and it made headlines, though at the time I thought, Jane Who??

A great suggestion for anyone on this board is if you are a member of Netflix, rent the 7 DVD series of The American Experience on NYC.

It is great. The last few disks go from the 1920 to 1970s and goes through all the building of NY and especially the infrastructure and how many wanted to change Mahattan. And the earlier disks on the creation of Manhattan are also good.

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Great to hear. I am always looking for some good rentals from Netflix.

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