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Thought Experiments

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A recent study by economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti found that our city's beloved brownstones and townhouses could be holding back the whole country, WNYC reports. The economists studied three large cities—New York, San Francisco, and San Jose—and learned that the United States economy would be 9.5 percent bigger if these cities had "average" housing and development restrictions. The model used in the study suggests that preservation and zoning laws are costing the country billions, and that neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes (and not, in the words of New York magazine's Annie Lowrey, "Soviet-style giant apartment buildings") are a symbol of bloat and inefficiency. Yes, if Judge Dredd has taught us anything, it's that Mega-City One is the ideal model of urban land use. [WNYC; photo via Chuck Burgess/Curbed Photo Pool]