Triumph of the City by Ed Glaeser is a book that champions urban life as better for humanity economically, socially, and in almost every other way. The book explains why cities have played such an important role in technological innovation, economic growth, intellectual change, and progress.
The central theme of this book is that cities magnify humanity’s strengths. Our social species’ greatest talent is the ability to learn from each other, and we learn more deeply and thoroughly when we’re face-to-face.
The book argues that cities make us richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier because they mix up masses of people and foster collaboration and innovation that can’t happen in rural or suburban isolation. The book also shows that the achievements of cities benefit the entire world.
Democracy and printing and mass production are only a few of the gifts of the city. The ideas that emerge in cities eventually spread beyond their borders and enrich the rest of the world.
The book highlights that despite their critical importance, surprisingly few books have been written about the role cities have played in economic development and progress. The book is one of the best on the topic.
The book also explains that all successful cities have something in common. To thrive, cities must attract smart people and enable them to work collaboratively. There is no such thing as a successful city without human capital.
Useful takeaways from the book include the fact that the city is humanity’s greatest invention, urbanization has been one of the most powerful trends of the modern world, and industries are typically highly concentrated in a few cities.
The book also highlights that the close physical proximity of cities makes learning new skills and copying other ideas much easier. Then people can recombine those ideas with other ideas to make new innovations.
What I Liked
I loved everything about this book. It’s concise, tightly argued, with lots of examples. Also, I’m a huge fan of cities.
What I Did Not Like
Nothing! Worthwhile book – especially in the post-COVID world.