Synopses & Reviews
A globe-trotting, eye-opening exploration of how cities can — and do — make us happier people.
After decades of unchecked sprawl, more Americans than ever are moving to inner cities, mixed-use suburbs, and densely constructed small towns. Our surroundings have certainly changed — but is city living cheering us up, or are we as gloomy on our walks to the subway as we were on our long, predawn commutes? And if that's the case, how can we turn things around?
Charles Montgomery's Happy City is a delirious tour through the planet's most exciting (and also most dysfunctional) urban forms. In breezy, vivid prose, Montgomery chronicles his trips to Bogotá, once a dangerous, car-obsessed city, now a bike-loving, bus-riding model of civic excellence; to a Vancouver suburb whose power company gathers thermal energy from sewage to provide heat and hot water for all its citizens; even to California's San Joaquin Valley in the aftermath of the housing crisis, an apocalyptic vision of suburban growth.
Full of fascinating historical detail, cutting-edge insights from behavioral economists, and interviews with an array of leading urban thinkers, Happy City offers a completely new way to examine city life, showing us how small innovations can radically alter our experience of city life — and how they can make us measurably happier.
Practical, genial, and fiercely open-minded, Montgomery has written a brilliant book about what today's cities are getting right — and how tomorrow's cities can do even better.
“Beautifully researched, Charles Montgomery's tale cleverly interweaves rigorous inquiry on urban history and the science of happiness with intimate and personal stories that humanize the vast task of understanding urban dynamics. An inspiring book that reminds us that the power to change our cities often lies in our own hands.” Maria Nicanor, Associate Curator of Architecture and Urbanism, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
“Happy City is its own opiate: an eye-opening, pleasurable, utterly necessary tour through the best and worst neighborhoods of our urbanized world. Charles Montgomery shows us the way to a beautiful city.” Andrew Blum, author of Tubes
“Happy City will fundamentally change the way you see, experience, and feel the place you inhabit. It is a hopeful and optimistic vision of our urban future that uses science to argue what we always should have known: in building the good city, we won't just save our planet. We'll save ourselves.” Robert Hammond, cofounder of Friends of the High Line
About the Author
Charles Montgomery is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Shark God
, which won the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction under its Canadian title, The Last Heathen
Visit his websites at www.charlesmontgomery.ca and www.thehappycity.com.