Europe's Coolest Cities

Der Spiegel Online has a fascinating article about the makings of a “cool” city.

The six cities listed in the article as “cool” are: Copenhagen, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Dublin, Vienna, and Tallinn. I’ve been to four of the six and agree that there is something special about these places that sets them apart from the rest of the world.

Equally as interesting as the actual list is the idea and theory behind what makes a city “cool” and why this matters.

To be cool a city needs to have a manageable size, be safe, offer chances to improve one’s lot in life, and have an identifiable elite innovative enough to ensure progress and prosperity. San Francisco is cool. Barcelona is cool.

More than anything, such cities are cool because they are magnets for “creative classes” of people that inspire and stimulate each other.

This isn’t just about living somewhere hip though:

There is little doubt as to the economic importance of such people. Creative industries have created more than 20 million new jobs in the United States alone and around half of all wages and salaries paid in America are for this knowledge-oriented part of society. Around a third of all workers in the industrialized world are part of this creative segment of labor.

As is pointed out in the article, Silicon Valley is the model for this sort of city where, through a combination of the “Three Ts — Technology, Talent, and Tolerance,” culture advances. And it’s in second cities—which avoid many of the problems plaguing mega-cities—that such a confluence can take place. And, according to the theory, the cities where this happens will be the guiding beacons for future advancements in technology and culture.

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