Monday, January 2, 2006

The Appeal of the Artsy

Richard Florida argues in his new book, The Flight of the Creative Class, that the information workers who increasingly dominate the world's economies often choose their regions and neighborhoods for aesthetic and cultural reasons.

Louis Uchitelle in the New York Times chronicles a bit of this demographic movement to a suburb of NY City:

[The] Stovers and the Hirschfelds, like nearly all of the owners before them, came to Hastings from apartments in New York City, choosing the town in part because it offered a demographic mix greater than many other suburbs, as well as neighbors who were often artists, writers and academics.
Joel Kotkin, in The City: A Global History (which I read about over the weekend) notes the movement and decentralization of knowledge workers, too, though he's critical of Florida's ideas in his final chapters, deriding the notion that making your city "cool" or "hip" will attract these workers.

And yet Kotkin himself writes lovingly of Los Angeles' and New York's urban amenities-- the places where he himself chooses to live and work. To me, Florida's data seemed more detailed, focused, and up-to-date than Kotkin's.


Anonymous said...

Kotkin's a hack, and has become much more of one in recent years. With his criticism of Richard Florida and Portland, OR, he's practically calling himself 5 years ago an idiot.

I believe he's been paid to drink more heritage foundation kool-aid. This guy says it way better than I could:

David Wharton said...

I'm going to be reviewing Kotkin's book for the Greensboro News and Record.

His scholarship regarding ancient cities is of a very poor quality. Some of his sources are 60 years out of date!

In many ways, though, he seems to be writing a pro-Florida, "creative class" book in spite of himself. It's kind of strange.

Anonymous said...

It can't hardly be a new conclusion that people pick their neighborhoods for aesthetic and cultural reasons. Those two elements, and being near where you want to be (work, family, etc.), have to be the largest factors for everyone. It is just that hipsters, for want of a better term, have different cultural and aesthetic imperatives than suburb or exurb dwellers.

David Wharton said...

What's novel about Florida's thesis (and I didn't state it very well), is that these workers will pick where they want to live *first*, then look for a job.

Kotkin argues that people follow jobs, even if they're in un-hip places.