At least that’s what the cultural creatives, the early adopters and today’s kids are saying. One may need to look no futher than Jane Jacobs to find answers.
In her 1961 The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which by the way, has probably prompted the renaissance of more than several cities, she says if there’s any one word that defines success for a city, it’s diversity. To achieve it, she says you need:
1. A concentration of people. This explains why pedestrian malls without housing are often dead, and why Italy’s piazzas are anything but.
2. Small blocks. People like choice – they don’t like having to walk a quarter-mile without being able to change directions – that’s for cars. My neighborhood has small blocks, and I feel like I’ve been given control.
3. Old and new buildings. We’re talking about affordability, as well as history. I can afford to live in DC because I live in an old building (with a lot of history – the first African-American co-op in the U.S.).
4. A major, easily identifiable amenity that draws people. A theater. A piazza. An ethnic restaurant row like in my neighborhood.
For the skeptics, the economic correlation to diversity is displayed visually on page 37 of this report by economist Richard Florida.