Understanding the Importance of Place to the Creative Class

Richard Florida discusses why "quality of place", rather than job opportunity, is the determining factor in where creative-minded people choose to live.
October 16, 2012, 6am PDT | Jessica Hsu
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Although "quality of life" has been the traditional way in which the success of a community has been defined, Florida argues that "quality of place," a term he coined to capture "an interrelated set of experiences," better explains the attractiveness of a location. He believes that the creative class chooses where to live based not simply on jobs and services, but on a much wider range of "Territorial Assets" - comprising "what's there," "who's there," and "what's going on."

"Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences," writes Florida, "They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, to trade views and spar over issues." He notes that "authenticity - as in real buildings, real people, real history - is key." The creative class wants a quality of place unique to the location, not "full of chain stores, chain restaurants, and chain nightclubs."

The openness to experience sought by creative-minded people reflects his contention that "what people want is not an either/or proposition. Successful places do not provide just one thing; they provide a range of quality-of-place options for different kinds of people at different stages in their lives." Florida uses New York City as an example of a successful place because young people, as they earn more and start families, can trade up from affordable, funky neighborhoods to more costly, even suburban, communities. "Members of the Creative Class come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and lifestyles. To be truly successful, cities and regions must offer something for all of them."

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Published on Thursday, October 11, 2012 in Urban Land Magazine
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