Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conversation about cities

Here are Paul Romer and Russ Roberts discussing cities -- especially Romer's interest in charter cities.

Romer and Roberts also love New York city and give the impression that it is simply a matter of high density plus the subways to service it.  Romer mentions that most people like NYC and they also like good weather.  So could Long Beach, California, fill the bill and possibly offer both?  Allow high enough densities there, add good transit, and get a Manhattan but with a Mediterranean climate?  I doubt it.

On another point, I have often noted that cities are "engines of growth" because they are the places where new ideas are hatched and incubated.  Romer talks about developing country cities, where the real urban problems are likely to be, and makes the important point that the discussion should be about the adoption of existing ideas for the local context of catch-up growth.  This is a neat point and should be made every time ideas and cities are discussed.

Romer likes the New York plan of 1811 and cites it as a worthy example of laying out the street grid for large undeveloped areas many years before development arrived.  He prescribes this approach for Third World cities that are likely to experience lots of in-migration very soon.  Listen to the whole podcast.