What made Florence a Florence?

What made Florence a Florence

What made Florence so absurdly productive during the 15th century?
ie. What made Paris the center of culture during the 19th century?

There’s also a sense that places are primary in something and secondary in other things. For example, LA and NYC feel secondary in tech industries but equally primary in fashion.

Case Studies from the present

Let’s think about the exceptional places in the world today and why people wanted to go there.

  • San Francisco is the center of the software industry and weird discursive projects. World class people who want to build software, fund software, and collaborate with weird people do. Locally, Berkeley and Stanford both pull in world-class academics who has an interest in commercializing things.
    • It pattern matches against the high margin industry leading to people donating to universities
    • The tech billionaire version of patronizing might be angel investing
  • Los Angeles pulls in world class people who want to be part of the fashion industry (is this true?) and movie, tv, and content production industry generally.
    • Do world class technology people go there?
  • New York pulls in world class people in Finance, Writing, Theater, Music, Art (is this still true? Probably in Brooklyn), Fashion,
    • How important are the colleges
    • Julliard seems important
    • It pulls
  • London pulls in world class people in Finance, technology, cooking,
    • It feels like the proximity
  • Boston for people in biotech, academic minded research people

Case Studies from the Past

  • Amsterdam in the 17th century?
  • Tokyo in the 1980’s?
  • Prague at some point?
  • Vienna in early 20th century
  • Edenborough during the 18th Century
    • Smith
    • Hume
    • Hobbes
  • Athens in 2nd Century AD

Observations from cursory Case Studies

  • None of these places seem to pull in people for manufacturing but many got their start doing that
  • Being centers of trade seems really important

Is the fact that these places tend to center around industries a cause or an effect or both? The industry clusters may also be an artifact of how I’m defining “world class” because I think of world class as people who want to be the best at what they do. Thinking more it’s how I perceive these people’s decision making process around somewhere being “the place to be” without sacrificing their careers.

In the early 21st century, it feels like there are many world-class cities but San Francisco

Research Questions


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