Richard Florida used to argue that the influx of the new creative class would transform and renew our cities into livable oases of prosperity, tolerance, and sophistication. In his new book, The New Urban Crisis, he takes it all back.
If you live in an urban center in North America, the United Kingdom, or Australia, you are living in Richard Floridaâ€™s world. Fifteen years ago, he argued that an influx of what he called the â€œcreative classesâ€ â€” artists, hipsters, tech workers â€” were sparking economic growth in places like the Bay Area. Their tolerance, flexibility, and eccentricity dissolved the rigid structures of industrial production and replaced them with the kinds of workplaces and neighborhoods that attracted more young people and, importantly, more investment.
His observations quickly formed the basis of a set of breezy technical solutions. If decaying cities wanted to survive, they had to open cool bars, shabby-chic coffee shops, and art venues that attract young, educated, and tolerant residents. Eventually, the mysterious alchemy of the creative economy would build a new and prosperous urban core. …
After fifteen years of development plans tailored to the creative classes, Florida surveys an urban landscape in ruins. The story of London is the story of Austin, the Bay Area, Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Sydney. When the rich, the young, and the (mostly) white rediscovered the city, they created rampant property speculation, soaring home prices, and mass displacement. The â€œcreative classâ€ were just the rich all along, or at least the college-educated children of the rich.