Twenty years ago, Richard Florida coined the phrase “creative class” with a theory that clusters of knowledge workers make more prosperous cities. Now he’s thinking about how we can create better, more equal cities post-pandemic.
In “60 Seconds With,” ELLE Decor articles editor Charles Curkin chats with creatives and industry leaders, getting the scoop on their life and work in one minute or less. In this installment, he talks with the urbanist Richard Florida about how city life—New York City life, in particular—will change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. His prognosis is decidedly good. Florida’s one minute starts…now.
“The pandemic will not only reshape cities but it’s going to reshape suburbs and rural areas,” says Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management and a distinguished visiting fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
This paper examines the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic, fiscal, social and political fallout on cities and metropolitan regions. We assess the effect of the pandemic on urban economic geography at the intra- and inter-regional geographic scales in the context of four main forces: the social scarring instilled by the pandemic; the lockdown as a forced experiment; the need to secure the urban built environment against future risks; and changes in the urban form and system. At the macro-geographic scale, we argue the pandemic is unlikely to significantly alter the winner-take-all economic geography and spatial inequality of the global city system.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen tens of millions of Americans engage in a gigantic experiment in working from home — one that looks to be more permanent than anyone might have imagined. Corporation after corporation has announced that they won’t be reopening their offices until mid-2021, at least. Some commentators are even predicting the death of the office and the end of cities.
The outdoor stages are silent. There are no art fairs or gallery walks, no concerts in the parks. The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated arts and culture in America, wiping out as many as half of all jobs for performing artists and musicians, and nearly a third of jobs for all those who work in the creative economy broadly spanning arts, music, theater, design, entertainment and media, according a study we did for the Brookings Institution.
The COVID-19 crisis hits hard at arts, culture, and the creative economy. This study estimates the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the creative economy, which is comprised of industries such as film, advertising, and fashion as well as creative occupations such as musicians, artists, performers, and designers. We estimate losses in sales of goods and services, employment, and earnings for creative industries and creative occupations at the national, state, and metropolitan levels over the period of April 1 through July 31, 2020.
Cities will clearly survive this pandemic and the related crises that come from it. Crises like 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis and COVID-19 tend to lend themselves to dystopian takes. It’s the end of cities. Cities will disappear. It’s not been true.
In the months since the coronavirus engulfed the world, it’s become clear that society won’t go back to normal any time soon, if ever.
Communities with more resilient economies experience less shock. And economies that are both resilient and high-growth experience shorter recovery periods. This pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to take measure of our regional and city economies and to better understand the fundamental drivers. A key to our future resiliency is the continued growth and development of diverse, export-driven economies across Canada. Surprisingly, some clusters across Canada have an opportunity for expansion during this time — transportation, e-commerce, and health sciences — while others will need support. Economic development officials across Canada must assess the sectors that are most vulnerable in the short to medium run, evaluate the impacts this will have for their labour markets and communities, and plan accordingly to make their economies more resilient and robust.
The ongoing COVID‐19 crisis has put the relationship between spatial structure and disease exposure into relief. Here, we propose that mega regions – clusters of metropolitan regions like the Acela Corridor in the United States are more exposed to diseases earlier in pandemics. We review standard accounts for the benefits and costs of locating in such regions before arguing that pandemic risk is higher there on average. We test this mega region exposure theory with a study of the US urban system. Our results indicate that American mega regions have born the early brunt of the disease, and that three mega regions are hotspots. From this standpoint, the extent more than the intensity of New York’s urbanization may be implicated in its COVID‐19 experience. We conclude that early pandemic risk is a hitherto unrecognised diseconomy operating in mega regions.
Richard Florida and his wife and children spent most of lockdown in their apartment on Miami Beach. When they returned home to Toronto, the city had changed. “When we left, you couldn’t get stuff readily delivered here,” he reports over Zoom. “I literally pressed the Instacart button five minutes before I connected to you . . . and [my order] will be here in half an hour.” Florida is the urban theorist who coined the term “the creative class” and spotted its takeover of the world’s city centres. He’d barely thought about pandemics before, despite being born during the great flu outbreak of 1957 —his parents never mentioned it.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century public health crisis, an economic catastrophe, and a human tragedy of the first order, whose impact has been most keenly felt in cities. That’s because plagues and pandemics turn the dense living patterns, international connectivity, and sheer 24/7 busyness of cities—the basic drivers of their productivity—against them. That said, cities have survived pandemics throughout all of human history. The basic force of urbanization is stronger than that of disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about how we live. We know this every time we put on a mask to go outside, monitor for six feet of physical distance between ourselves and others, eschew retail for online purchases, log in to work remotely, and have conversations with friends and family over online teleconferencing, instead of in person. We know this because we have seen the social divide widen, and there are increasing numbers of people who can’t make ends meet, have lost income or don’t have access to the internet.
The coronavirus has run rampant around the world’s cities, bringing them to a complete standstill. The joys of city life have been upturned as restaurants, theaters, and workplaces have all become potential vectors for transmission of the virus.
This week’s episode looks at how cities could be transformed by the pandemic. Will urban residents flee to the suburbs, or will cities persist as they have through past epidemics? Do the world’s metropolises have a rare opportunity to reinvent themselves for a more equitable, sustainable future?
The dominant narrative in America today is that urban and rural face divergent futures. The belief that technology is driving urban prosperity and rural decline shapes this view. This perceived divide is also reflected in popular assumptions about the COVID- 19 pandemic as web searches for homes in rural communities have spiked, ostensibly driven by individuals seeking to flee the dangers of density.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought some of the world’s wealthiest global cities to their knees. In the current epicentre, New York, roughly one-fifth of all residents are infected and more than 20,000 have died. London has reported more than 55,000 cases and 6,000 fatalities. Yet the spread and impacts of the disease are an even greater threat to poorer cities and slums in developing countries.
It’s a calculated effort balancing the need to protect public health and the demand for economic activity. How long and lasting will this new normal be? It may be a balance between infection rates and unemployment rates — between epidemiology and economics.
Having ravaged some of the world’s wealthiest cities, the coronavirus pandemic is now spreading into the megacities of developing countries. Sprawling urban areas in Brazil, Nigeria and Bangladesh are all seeing COVID-19 infections rise rapidly.
For students attending a college or university in a city, the combination of the two can offer numerous benefits. For some, that might involve close proximity to a thriving artistic scene; for others, being near potential work opportunities might be appealing. But with COVID-19 temporarily closing campuses and pushing coursework into the remote learning realm, that’s led to a substantial change in this balance. And given that no one really knows when things will be back to something approaching normal, it’s worth considering that the future might hold for institutions of higher learning within cities.
History has unfolded in waves of profound depths followed by the relief of buoyant times, only for the depths to return with unsentimental speed. The French Revolution and the Reign of Terror gave way to Paris’ jolly Incroyables and Merveilleuses, young men and women who dressed ostentatiously and had a cathartic frolic — for about four years until Napoleon took power. After World War I and the pandemic Spanish Flu, the Roaring ’20s carried Berlin, London, and New York into a new age of hilarity. But then came the global Great Depression.
Toronto’s prolonged rise on international “best of” lists has been paused, like so many things, by COVID-19. We asked Richard Florida, a renowned cities expert, what he expects after the shutdown.
The COVID-19 crisis has upended urban life as we know it. Cities are on lockdown, and the once bustling streets of Paris, New York, London, Rome, and more now sit virtually empty. Technology has been critical to the way cities and society have coped with the crisis. Online delivery companies have been essential for getting food and supplies to residents, while their restaurant delivery counterparts have helped keep restaurants up and running during the lockdown.
As the coronavirus outbreak hopefully begins to level off in New York and governors start developing plans for gradually reopening the economy, urban policy experts and economists have begun to reflect on how the pandemic will change American cities in the years ahead, even permanently.
The coronavirus is exposing a longstanding class divide in the way Americans work — between the low-paid front-line workers and the stay-at-home professionals with more job security and benefits. The first group — the grocery clerks, delivery workers, transit workers, food service workers, emergency responders, physicians’ assistants, and nurses’ aides — are exposed to Covid-19 in their day-to-day jobs and often on long public transit commutes. The second group is dependent on of the very services provided by these workers.
As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and how this will impact the social, environmental and economic landscape of our cities, we’ve enlisted globally renowned urbanist and economist, Richard Florida, to help make sense of the uncertainty. Join us for a live discussion with Richard, who will share his ten-point preparedness plan for how cities can survive – and even thrive – following a pandemic. It’s an event not to be missed.
The lockdown will end before scientists develop a working vaccine. Here’s a four-point plan for how companies should adapt.
The Covid-19 pandemic rages around the world, hitting cities in Asia, Europe and the U.S. in waves: first Wuhan, then Milan and Madrid, and now Seattle, New York City, Detroit and New Orleans. No place seems immune. But some cities seem more vulnerable to its devastating spread, and more vulnerable to the virus’s most insidious impacts.
This global pandemic is not to blame for a trend that was already in place — it has only accelerated it. While government stimulus and small business loans, financing and subsidies may provide some small businesses with a measure of relief, many won’t have the cash flow, the savings, or the time to wait. Rents, suppliers, and staffs have to be paid.So how can not just retailers, but restaurants, bars, galleries, book stores, hair and nail salons, florists, and fitness centers move quickly to mitigate their losses and stay afloat over the next difficult months?
As the dreaded coronavirus bolts across the globe, city after city has locked down, transforming urban business centers and suburban malls alike into veritable ghost towns. Our cities can’t stay in lockdown indefinitely. The economic costs — never mind the toll on our society and our mental health — is just too devastating. But the reality is we can’t just hit a reset button and revert to how things were before. This pandemic, like all great pandemics, threatens to reappear in subsequent waves over the next year to eighteen months, until we find a vaccine or develop herd immunity.
As the dreaded Coronavirus rips across the globe, city after city has locked down, transforming urban business centers and suburban malls alike into veritable ghost towns. Our cities can’t stay in lockdown indefinitely. The economic costs – never mind the toll on our society and our mental health – is just too devastating.
A ten-point preparedness plan for our communities based on detailed tracking of the current pandemic and historical accounts of previous ones, presenting some key measures to prepare our cities, economy, and workers for the next phase of the coronavirus crisis and beyond.