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Uncool cities

From London and Berlin to Sydney and San Francisco, civic authorities agree that the key to urban prosperity is appealing to the "hipster set" of gays, twentysomethings and young creatives. But the only evidence for this idea comes from the dot-com boom of the late 1990s—and that time is over

By Joel Kotkin   October 2005

The world’s great cities face serious, even catastrophic problems. Terrorists have planted bombs in London’s Underground and bus systems. Floods have wiped out New Orleans, and fires incinerated scores of impoverished Africans living in crowded, seamy Paris apartments.

Everywhere—from New Orleans to London and Paris—the middle classes, whatever their colour, are deserting the core for safer and more affordable suburbs, following in the footsteps of high-tech industries and major corporations.

Yet rather than address serious issues like housing, schools, transport, jobs and security, mayors and policy gurus from Berlin and London to Sydney and San Francisco have adopted what can…

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