THE EVOLUTION OF GREAT
WORLD CITIES: URBAN WEALTH
AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
2011), 224 pages.
What led to the rise of Hong Kong, a city originally described as "a colonial backwater"? What led to the decay of Detroit, in its industrial heyday representing the height of America's ingenuity and success?
In his recent book, The Evolution of Great World Cities: Urban Wealth and Economic Growth, Christopher Kennedy delves into the history of several cities, including Venice, Seville, Detroit and London, and uses a blend of macroeconomics, urban planning and ecology to explore connections between a city's built environment and its economy.
Kennedy posits that infrastructure underlies the wealth and growth of cities, effectively arguing that transportation infrastructure determines consumer behavior--leading some cities to long-term growth and others to decay. Second, he uses a definition of wealth--namely, the cumulative value of assets owned by citizens--to conclude that during a recession, the wealth of a city is not lost bur redistributed. However, he does not address the problem of plutocracies in which individuals with highly mobile capital...