This limited survey of the effects of inequality and high house prices in cities is part of the problem, not the solution.

There is something quite shocking about seeing a new contemporary map of London in which the rich areas are labelled “primarily creative class” and the poorer parts “primarily service class”. But this is how the American writer and Toronto University professor Richard Florida portrays cities and sees people. There are those who create and those who serve them.

The book opens with its author recounting what his taxi driver told him on the way in from the airport about all the empty luxury flats in London. This feeds into his theory that the “new urban crisis” is about inequality and house prices, and would apparently be solved if only they could both be reduced a little. However, ending the real crisis might not be that simple.

Presumably the taxi driver was “service class” and Florida, who describes himself as “one of the world’s leading urbanists”, is a “creative”, but is what he is creating useful or harmful? Just above his map of London in the book, he claims that “surprisingly, there is not a single tract in London where the working class makes up a plurality of residents…” That claim is wrong, of course, but so are many of the ideas in this flawed book.

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Illustration by Joseph P Kelly

Illustration by Joseph P Kelly

Image drawn by Joseph P Kelly