The Edifice Complex and the Stimulus

The Wall Street Journal had a great column over the weekend one of urban development’s many fads: stadiums, convention centers, and aquariums (casinos and waterfront promenades fall into this category).

The theory goes that weak urban economies can be reinvented into  entertainment destinations. Like most public investments of this sort, the demand is supposed (though not proven) and the effects  overstated. Stadiums don’t deliver their promised benefits. The underlying problems in these cities persists. Mayors should look to the institutional issues – the tax and regulatory environment, fighting crime, and pursuing policies to improve education – for solutions to urban decline.

The proposed stimulus may build things, but it’s unlikely to fix much.