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Reinventing Boston: 1640-2003

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  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

The three largest cities in colonial America remain at the core of three of America's largest metropolitan areas today. This paper asks how Boston has been able to survive despite repeated periods of crisis and decline. Boston has reinvented itself three times: in the early 19th century as the provider of seafaring human capital for a far flung maritime trading and fishing empire, in the late 19th century as a factory town built on immigrant labor and Brahmin capital, and finally in the late 20th century as a center of the information economy. In all three instances, human capital admittedly of radically different forms provided the secret to Boston's rebirth. The history of Boston suggests that a strong base of skilled workers is a more reliable source of long-run urban health.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2003. "Reinventing Boston: 1640-2003," NBER Working Papers 10166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10166
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10166.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790–1846," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 813-850, December.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser, Jed Kolko, and Albert Saiz, 2001. "Consumer city," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 27-50, January.
    3. Edward Glaeser & Janet Kohlhase, 2003. "Cities, regions and the decline of transport costs," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 83(1), pages 197-228, October.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
    5. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kerstin Press, 2006. "Divide to conquer? The Silicon Valley - Boston 128 case revisited," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0610, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Dec 2006.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • O0 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - General

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    1. Historical Economic Geography

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