An Inquiry Into Density

“Cities are the absence of physical space between people and companies. They are proximity, density, closeness. They enable us to work and play together, and their success depends on the demand for physical connection.” Glaeser, Edward. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

Consider this statement and its many variants: “With information travelling at the speed of light, physical distances shrink into insignificance.” But facts are obstinate things. In the United States, 81.6% of the population is classified as “urban” (subject to the uncertainty of that classification), while over the past five years, the annual rate of urbanization is 1.02%. Globally, 54% of the population lives in urban areas – a figure that is projected to grow to 66% by the year 2050. Why, when people, especially highly educated “creative class” workers, can choose to live anywhere, are they still moving to cities? Continue reading