What is the City but the People?

What is the City but the People?

I saw this quote on the side of a government building while doing a quick photowalk in Denver last fall. As I read it, I realized it held the very key to understanding cities and urban dynamics.

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20141026-What is the City But the People

Who wrote this you may ask? Why, William Shakespear of course! (Yes, I had to Google it, it is from the play Coriolanus). Why do I think it is profound? Well, cities may contain various mixtures of concrete, steel, asphalt, and glass all aligned into unique structures under a mixture of engineering, effort, and architecture; they are not created by this process (apologies the urban planners or architects who may read this). Instead, cities are unique collections of people who choose to live in close proximity to achieve economic efficiency and output gains (society is the glue that helps this happen). People don’t move to a city because of its buildings, they move (or equally choose to stay), because of who is there. Some times it is for a job and to be close to an industry, sometimes it is just because the city has the right “feel”. Think about this, who keeps you where you are? I imagine that is far more powerful that “what” keeps you where you are.

If you understand the power of this quote and concept, you can better understand what it takes to build a great city! Denver, you are on my list! I am looking forward to visiting once more in March of 2016 for the annual meetings of the American Real Estate Society (yes, we real estate nerds have a convention, industry and practitioners are invited). Maybe I’ll see you there!

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20141026-Gates to the City of Denver

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