Boing Boing: America's superstar cities - is NYC becoming a trustafarian resort-town?:
In the wake of NYC Mayor Bloomberg declaring that New York's staggering real-estate pricing makes it into a "luxury product," not a "Wal-Mart," Joel Kotkin has written a superb piece for the Wall Street Journal on the poor value for money to be had in the "superstar" cities of America, as compared to the fast-growing B-list cities like Phoenix.
I know what he means -- I think of Europe's B-list cities, like Florence, as having the best of all worlds: relatively cheap housing, lots of weird, experimental activity, cosmopolitanism, beauty and culture. Go to a superstar city like NYC or London and check out how similar all the restaurants, stores, and galleries are. When you need to make $[RIDICULOUS] per square foot every month, there's not a lot of room for a crazy, experimental bookstore or a funky, marginal cafe. Compare that to cities like Melbourne, Montreal, Austin and many other "second cities" and you find a flourishing alternative culture.