Chapter 1: The resurrection of the city
Great cities are not like towns, only larger. They are not like suburbs, only denser. Jane Jacobs, 1961. Cities are as old as the road to Jericho. People tend to go where others are. That is where they can benefit from the merchandise that others have to offer and from the many opportunities to build a network, find jobs, exchange knowledge and ideas or seek a marriage partner. The geographical space is, therefore, not neutral. Activity concentrates in certain locations creating spiky economic landscapes. Due to the concentration of activity, those locations are appealing and the land is expensive. The price of land is the best measure of the attractiveness of such locations, and hence for the excess value of urbanisation. The concentration of people in a certain location makes cities one of the most important targets for politics and public policy. After all, there are external effects: the well-being of city dwellers is inextricably linked to their neighbours’ presence and activities. Therefore, they must mutually agree. That requires a complex form of political decision making.