Reinventing Boston: 1640-2003

62 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2003

See all articles by Edward L. Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: December 2003

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

Glaeser, Edward L., Reinventing Boston: 1640-2003 (December 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w10166. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=478676

Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

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