Evolution of great world cities: Urban wealth and economic growth by Christopher Kennedy

The Evolution of Great World Cities

In the Evolution of Great World Cities: Urban Wealth and Economic Growth,Christopher Kennedy explains why certain cities are wealthy and how they have come to be wealthy over time. He explores economic theory through the lens of urban history, referencing a variety of case studies to illustrate how urban growth and development occur.

Kennedy defines “wealth” as the value of tangible assets owned by citizens.  Wealthy cities are therefore those in which citizens have highly valued holdings of financial capital, real estate, and other assets. A central argument of the book is that physical infrastructure contributes significantly to the wealth and economic growth of cities (take a look at this 2009 report titled Infrastructure and the Economy: Future directions for Ontario for an example, or at a blog post written by Kennedy about his book). Infrastructure – primarily transportation systems and other physical assets, such as buildings and water pipes – determines land use in cities and influences the consumption and investment of citizens. In fact, Kennedy argues that the connection between economies of cities and their infrastructure systems is so “natural” and “symbiotic” that it is difficult to discern. The wealth of cities is directly impacted by fundamental changes to infrastructure and Kennedy develops an ecosystem analogy to interpret these transformations in cities over time.

With vivid case studies illuminating fascinating urban economic histories, this multidisciplinary book is an enlightening read for economic development professionals, urban planners, infrastructure strategists, and anyone engaged in community building. You can find out more about how great (and wealthy) world cities evolve by picking a copy here.