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Publishers Weekly, 1998-11-16 What brings a city to its golden age? Hall (Cities of Tomorrow)æa distinguished professor of urban planningæapplies this question to cities ranging from Rome and Athens to Glasgow, Memphis and Palo Alto in his new survey. His conclusions, like the book itself, are diffuse. Examining cultural belle ?poques, Hall contends that it was, ironically, the restrictiveness of the official artistic culture in turn-of-the-century Paris and Vienna that fueled startling innovations, as new artists were forced outside the mainstream. Looking at technology, Hall argues that an unfettered market is a great stimulant to inventionæas in the heydays of Glasgow's shipbuilding trade and Manchester's cotton textile manufacturingæbut, as both cases show, it also leaves cities vulnerable to the losses that result from other cities improving on their initial innovations. Turning to the fusion of cultural and industrial innovationæusing L.A.'s film industry and Memphis's pop music scene as examplesæHall asserts that the success of both rests on recognizing a "society in flux" and catering to "the deepest emotional needs" of an important, untapped market. Hall next examines the great successesæand boondogglesæof urban planning over the last two centuries (as well as in imperial Rome) before ending with a coda in which he applies his accumulated insights to the future cities. Hall's broadmindedness allows him to draw useful insights from thinkers as diverse as Joseph Schumpeter and Michel Foucault. While it may not come as a great surprise that neither entirely unregulated markets nor rigid central planning, but a little of eachæwith a pinch of kismetæwill bring a metropolis to its peak, Hall must be commended for making this case with unusual thoroughness. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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