Meme Weeding: Rich West, Poor East

Pedestrian Observations

There’s a common line in global history – I think it’s popularized through Eric Hobsbawm – that there is a universal east-west divide in temperate latitude cities. The idea is that the west side of those cities is consistently richer than the east side and has been continuously since industrialization, because prevailing winds are westerly and so rich people moved west to be upwind of industrial pollution. I saw this repeated on Twitter just now and would like to push back. Some cities have this pattern, some don’t, some even have the opposite pattern. Among cities the casual urbanist reader is likely to be familiar with, about the only one where this is true is Paris.

London

London famously has a rich west and poor east. I think this is why the line positing this directional pattern as universal is so common. Unfortunately, the origin of this pattern is too…

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