Florida Concedes to Kotkin: 'You Were Right'

In a stunning turnaround, longtime advocate of the importance of urban economies Richard Florida has reversed his stance on the suburbs, finding them as economically essential and appealing as urban theorist Joel Kotkin always said they were.
April 1, 2013, 6am PDT | planetizen
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Florida's "creative class" ideas have had a broad impact on cities across North America, encouraging civic and business leaders to institute policies that encouraged diverse, educated and upwardly-mobile creatives to move to town and help drive economic growth. The low density of the suburbs, he argued, couldn't create the interactions necessary to spark that creative and economic fire. But after a recent move to the suburbs of Toronto, Florida has thrown out his own theory and ripped up the contract for his next book.

"It's a total oversimplification. You can't dictate the form of an urban economy with a bunch of dancers and graphic designers. Talk about a bubble that's ready to burst," says Florida. "That's why the suburbs make so much sense from an economic perspective: the only people trying to dictate anything are road builders and housing developers. If that ain't what people want, why would they keep building it?"

He says the numbers are hard to ignore – both in terms of people living in suburbs and the amount of wealth being generated.

"There are construction workers in Arizona who have four-car garages," Florida says. "That's what I call economic prosperity."

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Published on Monday, April 1, 2013 in Planetizen April 1st Edition
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