The Importance of the City for Human Progress

I remember Stigler in his history of economic thought class, waxing eloquent about the wondrous idyllic life of the countryside, and then ending with a Stiglerian zinger; something like: ‘and where there is no idea to be found for miles and miles.’ (I believe, in his memoirs, that Stigler mentions that it is good for a great university to be located in a great city.)
Rosenberg and Birdzell attribute even greater importance to urban life:

(p. 78) The merchants were consigned to the towns, and the towns themselves were nonfeudal islands in a feudal world.

Source:
Rosenberg, Nathan, and L.E. Birdzell, Jr. How the West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

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