Distance, land, and proximity: economic analysis and the evolution of cities
The author attempts to provide a synthesis of the long-run evolution of cities by taking an economic perspective. He defends the idea that urban growth for preindustrial cities has been limited by the tyranny of distance. Then he argues that technological progress, by fostering mobility, has reinforced economies of agglomeration and thus allowed for larger cities. This has led to the development of industrial cities and the dominance of the tyranny of distance. Nowadays, however, technological progress in communications and telecommunications seems to be challenging the rationale for agglomeration in cities as more and more economic interactions can be realized at arm's length. Increasing mobility may have turned into a threat for cities, hence the prediction about the demise of cities. Nonetheless, it is argued that the `tyranny of proximity' may provide a strong glue to keep postindustrial cities together.