The secrets of the world's happiest cities

Posted on November 26, 2013

Two bodyguards trotted behind Enrique Peñalosa, their pistols jostling in holsters. There was nothing remarkable about that, given his profession – and his locale. Peñalosa was a politician on yet another campaign, and this was Bogotá, a city with a reputation for kidnapping and assassination. What was unusual was this: Peñalosa didn't climb into the armoured SUV. Instead, he hopped on a mountain bike. His bodyguards and I pedalled madly behind, like a throng of teenagers in the wake of a rock star.

"We're living an experiment," he yelled back at me. "We might not be able to fix the economy. But we can design the city to give people dignity, to make them feel rich. The city can make them happier."

Is urban design really powerful enough to make or break happiness? The question deserves consideration, because the happy city message is taking root around the world. "The most dynamic economies of the 20th century produced the most miserable cities of all," Peñalosa told me over the roar of traffic. "I'm talking about the US Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami, cities totally dominated by cars."

If one was to judge by sheer wealth, the last half-century should have been an ecstatically happy time for people in the US and other rich nations such as Canada, Japan and Great Britain. And yet the boom decades of the late 20th century were not accompanied by a boom in wellbeing. The British got richer by more than 40% between 1993 and 2012, but the rate of psychiatric disorders and neuroses grew.

Click on the link below to read the full article


Category(s):Happiness

Source material from The Guardian


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