Do We Still Need Traditional Cities?


Senior Member
Aug 14, 2006
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Houston we have a problem

And it's not even about accusing members here of being NIMBYs, it's the fact that many do not believe that Boston can't do both. Corporations are fleeing the city due to the high commercial which can drop if there was more office space in the city. Great modern cities did not become great by being satisfied with what they have. Great modern cities became great because they are never satisfied and is always in pursuit to become even better.

Houston we have a problem

Its not clear what is the correct definition of a great modern city:
1) a traditional city which has "modernized its look"
2) a place where people who are part of the KE want to live and work
3) stage for world girdling architectural stars
4) a remnant living off the momentum of the end of the paper age

a) In Ancient times a great city was there because the empire wanted it -- Rome, Alexandria
b0) in Meadevil times a great city was there because a King, Cathedral & Marrket drew crowds -- :London, Paris
b1) later you could add university to the mix -- Krakow
c) in the Industrial Age -- you needed the people to man/women the mills -- Lowell, Pitsburgh
d) in the paper age you needed the people to type and file -- NYC
e) in the early Information age you need people for call centers and customer service -- Bangalore

what is the purpose today?
no King, no Church, Internet has replaced the market, no people needed for manufacturing, no people needed for clerical functions, soon no people needed for call centers?

So in the Knowledge Economy -- do we really need traditional cities or will acodemic villages suffice?
Re: Copley Place plan calls for condo tower

^^Great question.

We still need traditional cities because although the internet has replaced the market, it has not replaced transaction costs, i.e., delivering the product from place to place and getting to work. It's true in today's world, personal face to face time are becoming obsolete with virtual meeting and video streaming. However until day that products can be delivered digitally, the city will continue to exist. Until the day every worker can work at home, a city will exist. People will be taking advantages of services provided to them in city centers because it decreases transaction cost at the personal level and commercial level.

Also, I'm not denying Boston isn't one of the great world cities. However, in 50 years, cities that continues to strive to becoming better will remain great. Cities that don't will slowly fade.
Need? Probably not, but humans are funny, we tend to cling to things either out of habit, nostalgia or just plain stubbornness.

I don't think cities (as a class) will see steep decline in our lifetime. If automobiles didn't kill them, I doubt the internet will.
Scientific American has a special "cities" issue out for September. On my lap right now. Looks interesting. Better greener smarter cities.

When did SA's type get so large ????
Tallest towers now and under construction.

The tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, exceeds the height of its closest competitor, Taipei 101, by the approximate height of the Chrylser Building.

2001's tallest tower, the twin Petronas Towers, won't even crack the Top 10 list once these others are finished.

NB: One World Trade Center will come in at #5 when completed. No the US tower will be in the top 10.

The Empire State Building will fall to #13 and the Bank of America tower in NYC will be #14. The Willis (Sears) Tower will be #12.