Monday, November 27, 2006

Urban Alienation

I just read Matt Kahn extolling Boston as an urban place []. Matt and his family were lucky to meet Paul Samuelson in a public place twice within one week.

Matt's experience reminded me of a lecture I gave to my urban economics students some years ago. I was trying to define a city. Among other characteristics of cities I mentioned the sociologists' view that cities are places in which one experiences alienation and where one does not often encounter on the street familiar faces.

Some months after that lecture I was marching down Fifth Avenue in New York City. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice from across the street shouting hello to me. It was a student from my urban economics class at the Technion tickled pink that he found a counter-intuitive example to his professor's ramblings.

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