Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Oct 10, 2005 4:25pm

the uncool classes

via Kottke:

From London and Berlin to Sydney and San Francisco, civic authorities agree that the key to urban prosperity is appealing to the "hipster set" of gays, twentysomethings and young creatives. But the only evidence for this idea comes from the dot-com boom of the late 1990sand that time is over.
... the lure of "coolness" leads cities to ignore the fundamental issues - infrastructure, middle-class flight, terrorism - that have so much more to do with their long-term prospects. Cities once boasted of their thriving middle-class neighbourhoods, churches, warehouses, factories and high-rise office towers. Today they set their value by their inventory of jazz clubs, gay bars, art museums, luxury hotels and condos.

(Uncool Cities, by Joel Kotkin)

I'm finally reading Jane Jacobs and this article resonated strongly with me. A few other data points:

  • San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has warned that recovery from a major earthquake may be more difficult, because most of SF's firefighters live outside city limits, many of them across the still-vulnerable Bay Bridge.
  • While walking with Eric near 20th and Guerrero, I was surprised to see a cobbler's shop in a neighborhood otherwise full of boho coffee shops and gourmet groceries. I was subsequently surprised by my surprise, because such businesses ought to be plentiful in a well-populated neighborhood, and the lack made me wonder where the locals actually go to take care of such everyday errands as fixing shoes. The cobbler's storefront wasn't exactly booming.
  • Still-devastated holes in the ground on the sites of buildings razed to make room for office space at the tail end of Bubble 1.0. Development in the Bay Area seems to occur at the block level, rather than the building level. I was happy to see an apartment building in Berkeley this weekend that had been injected into an oddly-shaped lot, but the general pattern I see in SF and Oakland is for a developer to buy an entire city block, knock down existing business, and put in a "mixed-use" monster.


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