Why a Real City Is Messy, and What NOT to Do About It

Sophy Ramírez  | 13 de noviembre de 2019  | Vistas: 46

The professor of economics, Sandford Ikeda, will explain the nature and significance of cities, emphasizing the messiness of them and why this is necessary to function and be economically valuable. 

Ikeda based his work in the urbanist Jane Jacobs, one of the most important thinkers in cities and economics. He says that cities may be messy places, polluted, crowded, with poverty, crime, and a lot of problems. But besides that, these are the places where people come looking for opportunities, where ideas are born and entrepreneurs make discoveries.

The city is not a man-made thing, certainly people of all kinds operate in the city, help to build the city, make it what it is, but none of those elements or groups of individuals can construct the city, at least if what we are talking about is a living city.”

He shares that these problems cities have help creativity and innovation take place, causing a feeling of opportunity in people to migrate so they can grow and change along with the city because these places always have something that offends people to make them search for solutions. 

The professor questions what transforms this diversity into something complementary, and explains that the greatness of the cities is not the giving of solutions but the creation of problems, and is the environment in which you can solve them; also describe the forces that help this to happen such as creativity, adaptability and flexibility. 

Ikeda emphasizes the importance of the messiness to occur and not being interfered with the thought of perfection, that could kill economic development. 

You have to understand from the point of view of the people who live in the city, from bottom-up, a street-level, you have to understand how people use public spaces, what makes them comfortable, what makes them uncomfortable. You have to understand from that perspective not from the bird’s eye, in a god-like perspective of this sort of historically great planners.” 

He shares some Hayek and Mises ideas that are very similar to Jane Jacob’s ones, on the importance of believing in spontaneous order, then compares the efficiency between cities and towns. 

To conclude, Ikeda shows some architects that planned perfect cities and others that made the structure of the big cities of today and insist on the diversity, possibility of flexibility, and changes that could improve in the messiness of the city. 


Expert on the economy of cities, professor and author