February 28, 2011
Smith describes the long-term benefit of having jobs located in the center of the city.
But frankly, I’m not convinced that it’s these sorts of “edge downtowns” are realistic long-term solutions. To see why, you have to understand why downtowns developed in the center of metropolitan areas to begin with. Geometrically, the center of a circle will always be the point that’s closest to the average of all other points within the circle. As a city sprawls outwards, the average difficulty of going from one random point to another grows exponentially, while the difficulty of commuting directly to the center increases linearly.I've written about this before. From a worker's perspective, the real value in having all jobs centrally located is that there's much greater predictability. If you want to switch jobs, you'll know that your commute will be exactly the same. If you lose your job, you know that whatever you find will be in relatively the same place. There would be no awkward decision calculus about whether or not to take a job that requires a painfully long commute.
Of course, this is purely hypothetical and not how the world works. I live in Arlington, Virginia, because that's where my job is. If I'd have been working in DC, I probably would have considered different neighborhoods. I was lucky to have the option to live close to my job.