Kotkin To Florida: Being Cool Is Not Enough

Dense, arty neighborhoods have failed to attract talent and capital, writes Joel Kotkin. What people really want is affordable space.

"[T]he American academic Richard Florida, has some cities sold on the notion that 'without gays and rock bands' they are doomed to lose 'the economic race' in the new century.

Across the world, cities have adopted strategies such as promoting gay districts, focusing resources on building cool downtown lofts and investing heavily in the construction of arts palaces and other such cultural ephemera.

...[C]ool, culture-centred cities in the US ... appear to be less than idyllic. Since 2000, pillars of urban hipness such as Portland, Boston and Austin have suffered anaemic economic growth while key industries -- from manufacturing to high-end business services -- have migrated to such unhip cities as Las Vegas, San Bernardino-Riverside, Orlando, Boise and Reno.

...Perhaps most troubling, the craze over coolness stops cities from focusing on the fundamentals -- such as investing in basic infrastructure, education, broad-based economic development, good parks and efficent sanitation -- critical to their long-term prospects. These basic functions affect the lives of most adults, including members of the bohemian creative class, once they begin to worry about buying a decent house, expanding a business and the imperatives brought on by raising a family.

...What is needed instead is an appreciation that the greatest asset of Australian cities -- including Melbourne and Sydney -- lies in the promise of the Australian dream of a single family house and a backyard."

Thanks to Wendell Cox

Full Story: Joel Kotkin: For thriving cities, it's not enough to be cool



Kotkin Uses Artiness as a Straw Man

Kotkin uses Florida and artiness as straw men that are easy to attack. This rhetorical strategy lets him ignore the environmental impacts of low density neighborhoods (which are the real impetus behind smart growth) in this article, as he does in everything that I have read by him.

Incidentally, maybe he is trying to shows his contempt for culture by using "schemata" as a singular noun in this article, when it is actually plural. If he can write a sentence like "The dunderheadness of this urban schemata is epitomised by the experience of San Francisco," he is obviously still waiting for the culture that follows after economic success.

Charles Siegel

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