Revisiting the Past

This article took 5 years in the making. We – Urskar, Jon, Ed, and myself – thought that it was a great project to see what was big data on taxi flows in central London in 1962 could be compared to a different but ‘50-year-later’ set of ‘big data’ taxi flows in the same place, collected by the limousine company Addison-Lee using their GPS technology. Lots of things turned out to be non-comparable but the issues in making such comparisons over 50 years between then and now were fascinating. Very, very few such comparisons have ever been made by anyone and nothing really in our field; and the fact that John Goddard had written a high profile paper on the 1962 data and its spatial analysis which was published in 1970, spurred us on to make a comparison. In fact without compunction, we will include access to his paper. The present papers published just this week in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers is the result – you can get the paper, yes it is Open Access – by clicking here or on the image above.

However, getting this article published was like picking hens’ teeth and even in this era of transparency, we will only give a sense of the perils and pitfalls. The original article was not much liked by the reviewers but it survived to the point where it made major revisions. This we did – despite the reviewers having little sympathy with the comparison which they said was too technical. What they wanted was us to elaborate all the detail about the social context of how we did computing back in the day and how we can’t compare then with now. We have a great story to tell on this and it is not yet told, for although we did put a little of this in one version, it was not liked either. The article went through at least four versions, from its form more or less as you read it now – to a more socially inspired version of the then and now issues, to a more technical version with some matrix algebra within. But to little avail. Although the last referees’ comments seemed to us be ‘OK’, it still got canned by the editors. Some of us thought that was it – it was dead but Urska revived the original, sent it off to the Annals, and lo and behold in record time, it got accepted. Thank you America! About time somebody said something nice about God’s Own Country.

Classic Books in Regional Studies

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Regional Studies, the Book Reviews section of the journal has published a series of reviews of books originally published decades ago, and whose influence has grown sufficiently that they are considered classics and milestones in regional studies. This involved scholars who are themselves established and highly influential in the field, through their ability to shape ideas and their broad perspective in assessing them. The reviewers reflect on: how the books have contributed to changing the landscape of the discipline; what aspects included in the books are little known but still relevant today; any “new” concepts in their own field that are clearly anticipated by the books; the ways in which the actual content of the books may differ from general presumptions; and the extent to which the books are still a worthwhile read for scholars.

Thanks to those who accepted the challenge, the results brought together in this Virtual Special Issue are a set of essays which allow us to better know these classic books and put them in contemporary perspective.

Ugo Fratesi, Politecnico di Milano, Book Reviews Editor, Regional Studies

Read the full editorial here.

Explore the individual book reviews below:

Albert O. Hirschman’s The strategy of economic development

Reviewed by Henry Wai-chung Yeung

Joseph A. Shumpeter’s The theory of economic development

Reviewed by Michael Fritsch

Nicholas Kaldor’s Economics without equilibrium

Reviewed by Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen

Gunnar Myrdal’s Economic theory and underdeveloped regions

Reviewed by Eric Sheppard

Doreen Massey’s Spatial divisions of labour

Reviewed by Michael Dunford

Alfred Marshall’s Principles of economics

Reviewed by Peter Sunley

Peter Hall’s Cities in civilization

Reviewed by Michael Batty

Harry W. Richardson’s Regional growth theory

Reviewed by Philip McCann

David Harvey’s Social justice and the city

Reviewed by Frank Stilwell

August Losch’s The economics of Location

Reviewed by Ron Martin

Jane Jacobs’s The death and life of great American cities and The economy of cities

Reviewed by Gilles Duranton