Does Living In a City With Tall Buildings Bring Out Creativity?

It has often been noted that cities with tremendous amounts of population all pushed together seem to be the most creative and this is where the most number of new innovations and inventions come from, also some of the best art, or so it is said. I’m not sure I buy into that concept completely, although I can say that the more people there are in a given space the percentages are higher that there will be more creative people amongst them. Another theory goes something like this; as you bring people together from so many different perspectives, all congregating in coffee shops and talking to each other you are bound to get more cross-pollination. Sure, that makes sense, but what if it’s something much simpler?

What if we could actually explain the phenomenon a totally different way? What if merely having tall buildings all around you makes you feel so insignificant that you need self-validation, and therefore whatever personality you process, or whatever traits you have, you accentuate those to make yourself feel significant and to help you stand out in the crowd? If such a theory were true, then as we bring more and more people on the Internet with more people on social networks we should see more creativity amongst each individual, but do we?

Sometimes the answer is yes, but often I see the increased interaction causing folks to realign themselves with the whole, even giving up some of their self so they can belong. They want self-validation so they try to be similar to everyone else, but just enough individual personality to make them stand out a little bit, but not enough to get whacked down for being different. Do you see what I’m saying here?

Interestingly enough, there was a very compelling article by Richard Florida in the Wall Street Journal on July 28, 2012 the article was titled; “For Creative Cities, the Sky Has Its Limits – It’s Not Enough to Build Tall If People Aren’t Thrown Together to Interact – Just Look at Shanghai Versus New York,” which also stated; “in absence of the pedestrian scale,” wrote the urbanist Jane Jacobs, “density can be trouble.” Right, and we know that when you pack a whole bunch of people together that they exhibit bizarre and weird personalities, the same is true for mice and rats in the laboratory.

Building big cities may create different personalities and accentuate or bring out the differences in individuals in profound ways, but that wouldn’t necessarily be because of cross-pollination, it could be because everyone feels insignificant, or alone even though there are people everywhere. It’s an interesting psychological phenomena and it is something that I’m going to bring up at our think tank because the implications are far and wide for the future of innovation in the United States.

If you have any comments or questions please contact me by e-mail, meanwhile hope you will please consider all this and think on.