Tyler Cowan on Brasilia … Does Brasilia work? : “”
There are a few quick lessons:
1. Sorry Jane Jacobs fans, planned cities do sometimes work. Take a look at postwar Germany too.
2. “Planned” cities are often less formally planned in their entirety than you think, and that is true for the greater Brasilia area. Brasilia is a mix of planned and unplanned elements, and it’s the mix which (mostly) works. We should not demonize either the “planned” or “unplanned” aspects of that blend per se.
3. Even when matters are quite screwed up from the policy or optimality side, mobility enforces an equality of average rates of return. This is one of the most neglected insights of economics.
One thought on “Does Brasilia work?”
BSB works great if you never walk anywhere (no sidewalks), have an air-conditioned car, and can afford to live in the central area. It doesn’t work great if you’re poor – just like every other Brazilian city. I suspect he spent 2 days there, if that, and didn’t see where the poor live. The congestion IS horrible (I lived there 20 years ago and it was OK then, but now…) not just because it has grown but because it was designed with no north-south major thoroughfares except for the one down the middle of the pilot plan. Aesthetics>Efficient planning, in other words.
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