As Cities Have Changed, So Have Richard Florida's Ideas

Call it the re-education, the evolution, or the contrition of Richard Florida, but the "rock-star urbanist" has realized some unintended consequences of his creative class ethos, and he's ready to share a new vision for cities.

2 minute read

October 25, 2016, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


BrooklynScribe / Shutterstock

Lydia DePillis reports on the evolution of Richard Florida, who 16 years after his first book, The Rise of the Creative Class, will release a new book called The New Urban Crisis.

According to DePillis, the theories included in The Rise of the Creative Class "proved half true." That is, "[f]or many small, post-industrial cities without assets like big tech companies and universities, no amount of creative-class marketing would turn things around."

Meanwhile, "some cities — San Francisco and New York, Austin and Seattle and Washington — have seen the theory work entirely too well, as creative and techy types revitalized downtown neighborhoods to the point where only bankers and software developers can afford to live in them comfortably."

DePillis attended a recent event in Houston hosted by the Kinder Institute and the Greater Houston Community Foundation, where Florida admitted that his original work did not anticipate the "dark side of the urban creative revolution."

The new book won't be out until next spring, but Florida spoke with DePillis in detail about its genesis (an argument with Joel Kotkin) and some of the realizations that shaped its argument (e.g., the segregation and sorting of growing cities). The new book, explains DePillis, is about "inclusive urbanism": "investing in residents' skills rather than yuppifying their neighborhoods, about retrofitting suburbs for people who might want to be able to walk to a grocery store and piping them into the city with commuter rail."

One pointed moment comes when Florida responds to the politics of the "tribe of urban libertarians," which is probably a code for YIMBYs. Here's Florida in his own words on that subject:

What happened to the urban left is it got captured by critical studies, the people who run around in geography departments and who've just given up reality. These are the people who think you're going to rebuild cities by deregulating land use. Welcome to Houston!

Monday, October 24, 2016 in Houston Chronicle

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

February 23 - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

February 23 - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

February 23 - Bloomberg CityLab

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.