New And Notable: Aerotropolis & Triumph Of The City

John D. Kasarda’s Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next is a brilliant, eye-opening look at the new phenomenon providing a glimpse of the way we will live in the near future — and ways in which we’ll do business as well.

Not long ago, airports were built near cities, and roads connected one to the other.

This pattern — city in center, airport on the periphery — shaped life in the 20th century from the central city to the exurban sprawl.

Today, the ubiquity of jet travel, round-the-clock workdays, overnight shipping, and global business networks have turned the pattern inside-out.

This book contends that soon, airports will be at the center and cities will be built around them to keep workers, suppliers, executives and goods in touch with global markets.

This is the “aerotropolis,” a combination of giant airport, planned city, shipping facility and business hub.

The concept is already reshaping life as we know it in Seoul, Amsterdam, China, India and even Dallas and Washington D.C.  It’s the frontier of the next phase of globalization, whether we like it or not.

Kasarda works with journalist Greg Lindsay to provide a vivid (and at times, disquieting) look at these instant cities in the making, the challenges they present to our environment and our usual ways of life, and the opportunities they offer to those who can exploit them creatively.

The authors propose that “aerotropolis” is news from the near future which we urgently need to understand the changing world and our place in it.

Noted urban planner Richard Florida says this book “is a must-read” and it has received several prominent positive reviews, including Business Week, Wall Street Journal (which states that the authors are “undoubtedly right”) and New York Times.

America is an urban nation. More than two-thirds of us live on the 3% of land that contains our cities.

Yet cities get a bad rap: They’re dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime-ridden, expensive, environmentally unfriendly…or are they?

In Triumph Of The City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, And Happier, author Edward Glaeser’s academic specialty, urban economics, informs his survey of how cities around the world thrive and wither.

He writes in this myth-shattering book that cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in both cultural and economic terms) places to live.

For example, residents of New York City actually live longer than other Americans, having lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

Using a range of expository forms (history, biography, economic research, personal story), he defines what makes a city “successful.”

He argues that our success as a country and as a species utterly depends on the health and weath of cities.  The book teems with counterintuitive yet convincing connections — how wool begat the Renaissance, how 17th-century Dutchment helped Japan defeat Russia in 1905, how religious competition in colonial Boston set the stage for that city’s current accomplishments.

However, Glaeser explains how a flourishing Industrial Age model may not work in the service-age economy.

The author highlights the unnerving truth that America’s poor treatment of its own cities over the past half century helped spawn many of our most dire problems, from increased inequality to environmental damage to the recent economic collapse.

Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and cogent argument, Glaeser makes an urgent, eloquent case for the city’s import and splendor.

He reminds us forcefully why we should nurture our cities or suffer consequenes that will hurt us all, no matter where we live.

Triumph Of The City has also received numerous prominent reviews, including New York Times and Slate, and more information can be found on the author’s blog.