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June 30, 2007

Richard Florida

Fast Cities

« An Urban World | Main | The New Metropolitanism »


Fast Company on Fast Cities:

To find them, we started with data from Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Kevin Stolarick, the numbers guru behind Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class, which helped define what makes great cities tick. We relied on CEOs for Cities' CityVitals survey, authored by Joseph Cortright of Portland, Oregon--based Impresa Inc.; sustainability data from SustainLane; and insights from the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto.

What makes a Fast City? It starts with opportunity. Not just bald economic capacity, but a culture that nurtures creative action and game-changing enterprise. Fast Cities are places where entrepreneurs and employees alike can maximize their potential--where the number of patents filed is high, for instance, or where the high-tech sector is expanding.

The second component: innovation. Fast Cities invest in physical, cultural, and intellectual infrastructure that will sustain growth. "The real forces for change in America and around the world are the mayors and the local communities," says Florida, now a professor of public policy at George Mason University.

Finally, Fast Cities have energy, that ethereal thing that happens when creative people collect in one place. The indicators can seem obscure: number of ethnic restaurants, or the ratio of live-music lovers to cable-TV subscribers. But they point to environments where fresh thinking stimulates action and, by the way, attracts new talent in a virtuous cycle of creativity.

Sifting through the data, we identified 30 Fast Cities around the globe, which we're presenting in nine categories, from Creative-Class Meccas to Green Leaders. We've also noted 20 locales on the verge of Fast City status, plus 5 Slow Cities--and 5 too fast for their own good.

Click here for the Fast Cities list; here for cities on the verge; here for slow cities; here for too-fast cities. Interactive maps here and here And a slide show here.


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» The 30 Fastest Cities To Work, Live, and Play from URENIO Portal: Innovation, Environments of Innovation, Intelligent Cities and Regions
Fast Company magazine has selected 30 urban centers that are shaping our future. The list includes creative-class meccas, RD hot spots, even cities so fast theyre scary. It calls them Fast Cities. They are cauldrons of creativity where the ... [Read More]



This posting contains no information on what makes a Fast City. If this is good as it gets I would ask Florida and Stolarick to think a little harder and spend less time lusting for attention.

I have two material problems with the finding as reported. One, there is no way to address the arrow of causality. Two, the factors presented are "ethereal things" to quote the posting. Empiracle work that appeals to supernatural causes is not science. These defects indicate that the quality of scholarship is seriously wanting. I would ask Florida and Stolarick to read Porter and Ghemawat. Ghemawat in his Commitment book does a great job calling out the fallacies that Flordia and Stolarick commit in an easy to read format (causality and necessary and sufficient arguments). The recent piece that Florida has on Gays and City economic prosperity is another example of confounding correlation and causation.

Michael Wells

I think this is probably the result of reading too fast.

The “Fast Cities” post is a link to a Fast Company article, not Florida and Stolarick's work -- the magazine just used some of Kevin's statistics. As a popular magazine with a "hip" image, Fast Company doesn't document their research and maybe it's not even good research -- it's just another top 30 list with their brand attached. But it's not Richard and Kevin's research, they were just mentioned.

On the Gays & Cities interview and its accompanying study. I actually think Richard goes out of his way to say that there's not a "gays cause prosperity" phenomenon, but that there is a correlation and that a city's openness does have a causal relationship to both numbers of gays and prosperity. And I think he does a pretty good job of showing that causality.


This top ten list is simply straight-faced fun. How could any list of tech or innovation cities not include Palo Alto, and Berkeley, California? Is Los Angeles really on a "B" list when it comes to being a creative mecca?

Still, I think that there is validity in the concept of "fast cities", and appreciate the development of the idea.


Michael- fair enough ... guilty of reading too fast!

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