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By Philippe Legrain 3 COMMENTS

This year, for the first time, over half of the people in the world live in a city, up from just one in ten in 1900. To celebrate this fact, London’s Tate Modern is putting on a really interesting exhibition on cities which I went to this week. It explores ten dynamic global cities through a variety of innovative angles: aerial maps, 3D representations of their population density, films and photography. It’s great.

In his latest column in the FT, Undercover Economist Tim Harford does a superb job of debunking many anti-urban myths.

Cities are good for the planet. Recent headlines excoriating London for its poor record on recycling omitted the detail that Londoners produce less household waste than people elsewhere in the UK. Londoners have fewer cars… Public transport may or may not work well in cities, but will never work in the countryside. And brute economic necessity keeps city dwellers in smaller, greener homes.

Cities are also hubs of commercial and technological innovation. Even the tools used on today’s farms were developed in places such as Chicago and Cambridge… The arts, too, largely revolve around creative networks based in the great cities.

Cities are resilient. Economies develop by changing; the process of change means that people are always being thrown out of work and always finding new jobs. That experience, never fun, is far less wrenching in a city than in a one-horse town. When a factory or a mine closes in a remote area, it can be an economic blow from which there is no coming back. In a big, diversified city, such closures take place constantly, but fresh jobs are far more likely to be on hand.

Posted 10 Aug 2007 in Blog
  1. Lurker says:

    Tim Harford writes like a 12 year old kid at school and youre holding it up as some great myth busting work. Pathetic.

  2. Lurker says:

    Cities are big. Some big cities have big buses. I went to London on my holidays. Some other big cities are New York and Paris.
    There we are, a bit of polishing and I could have Harford’s gig at the FT.

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