Brownstones Enable Value of Modern Cities?

From the New York Times: "It’s when Geoffrey West switches the conversation from infrastructure to people that he brings up the work of Jane Jacobs, who was a fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston. "The challenge for West and colleagues was finding a way to quantify urban interactions. According to the data, whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15 percent per capita. 'What Jacobs was clever enough to anticipate is that when people come together, they become much more productive.'

"Of course, these interpersonal collisions — the human friction of a crowded space — can also feel unpleasant. West describes the purpose of urban planning as finding a way to minimize our distress while maximizing our interactions. As Jacobs pointed out, the layout of her Manhattan neighborhood — the short blocks, the mixed-use zoning, the density of brownstones — made it easier to cope with the strain of the metropolis." Full article here.  (Photo credit: Flickr user jurvetson.)