For those who haven't read the book, there are two excerpts available online:
The first is at The Atlantic, and discusses the benefits of skyscrapers.
The second is from The Scientific American, and it gives a good overview of the main points in the book.
Questions for Book Club:
1. Best thing for a city is to attract smart people & leave them alone to do what they want.
What you need for a successful city:
Thriving cities have a mix of educated, wealthy people, and also those who are striving.
Public services like schools/transport
Amenities like restaurants also attract people.
Low prices & sensible planning
2. People make the city, not places. Following on from this- policy should help poor people not poor places; spending capital on vast capital projects to revitalise a city is unwise.
3. Low prices are necessary to attract residents. Benefits of unregulated development: they have reduced prices in places like Houston, but have increased sprawl considerably.
3. Urban Poverty as a least worst option?
4. Progress and innovation are universally good? Is there ever a case where innovation is a negative & should be reigned in?
5. Is it fair, if America can’t or won’t stop using cars & reduce their carbon emissions, to ask developing countries like India and China to do so?
6. “Shrinking to greatness”: Glaeser recommends that the money spent regenerating New Orleans could have been better spent, even by giving a lump sum to survivors to help them to move elsewhere. This may be cost effective, but what do you lose? Do people have a right to have their homes restored after natural disasters?
7. The city is good for the environment compared to suburuban level. Not all preservation should be encouraged. NIMBYism has costs: results in building in “browner” areas. Influence of climate on growth.
8. Government policy drives people to the suburbs. Is it right that government policy encourages a particular way of life- suburban living? When should government intervene?
10. Does the book minimise the role of luck or employ retroactive justification? Would Dublin have been featured as an exemplar 5 years ago?