Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley

Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley

Margaret Pugh O’Mara
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley
    Book Description:

    What is the magic formula for turning a place into a high-tech capital? How can a city or region become a high-tech powerhouse like Silicon Valley? For over half a century, through boom times and bust, business leaders and politicians have tried to become "the next Silicon Valley," but few have succeeded. This book examines why high-tech development became so economically important late in the twentieth century, and why its magic formula of people, jobs, capital, and institutions has been so difficult to replicate. Margaret O'Mara shows that high-tech regions are not simply accidental market creations but "cities of knowledge"--planned communities of scientific production that were shaped and subsidized by the original venture capitalist, the Cold War defense complex.

    At the heart of the story is the American research university, an institution enriched by Cold War spending and actively engaged in economic development. The story of the city of knowledge broadens our understanding of postwar urban history and of the relationship between civil society and the state in late twentieth-century America. It leads us to further redefine the American suburb as being much more than formless "sprawl," and shows how it is in fact the ultimate post-industrial city. Understanding this history and geography is essential to planning for the future of the high-tech economy, and this book is must reading for anyone interested in building the next Silicon Valley.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6688-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction Discovering the City of Knowledge
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the second half of the twentieth century, a new and quintessentially American type of community emerged in the United States: the city of knowledge. These places were engines of scientific production, filled with high-tech industries, homes for scientific workers and their families, with research universities at their heart. They were the birthplaces of great technological innovations that have transformed the way we work and live, homes for entrepreneurship and, at times, astounding wealth. Cities of knowledge made the metropolitan areas in which they were located more economically successful during the twentieth century, and they promise to continue to do...

    • 1 Cold War Politics
      (pp. 17-57)

      Building a city involves money, power, and the right location. In the case of the city of knowledge, these required elements flowed from an American Cold War scientific research and development (R&D) effort that created giant new streams of federal financing for academic and industrial science. While the United States had long valued science and technology for its important role in industrial production and contributions to intellectual life, the Cold War made science more important than ever before. It enlarged and refocused the definition of “science” to encompass activities that were now in the interest of national security as well...

    • 2 “Multiversities,” Cities, and Suburbs
      (pp. 58-94)

      In a series of lectures published in 1963 asThe Uses of the University, University of California chancellor Clark Kerr outlined a new conception of the American research university—one increasingly integrated into the economics and culture of the rest of society and having a responsibility to apply its knowledge to the problems of the world outside its walls. It was, he argued, no longer simply a university but a “multiversity.” The tremendous increases in federal expenditures on research and development since 1945, particularly the rapid upswing in spending on basic research since Sputnik, had turned universities into powerful agents...

    • 3 From the Farm to the Valley: Stanford University and the San Francisco Peninsula
      (pp. 97-141)

      The growth of the Cold War science complex, the emergence of the “multiversity,” and the new public programs using scientific research activity as an economic development tool all had a dramatic effect on the social organization and physical landscapes of the communities surrounding major U.S research universities. Universities themselves functioned as important political actors in the creation of the Cold War research complex and in its use as a force for local economic development. Public policy responded to the examples set by universities and their local allies in government and industry. Federal policy choices profoundly affected the size, shape, and...

    • 4 Building “Brainsville”: The University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia
      (pp. 142-181)

      In 1940, if a casual observer had been asked which large American metropolis—the San Francisco Bay Area or greater Philadelphia—would become the capital of the nation’s high-tech industry sixty years later, they would have very likely answered “Philadelphia.” Philadelphia was then the third-largest city in the country, and its region was headquarters to many leading electronic and advanced scientific firms. Because the U.S. financial sector was concentrated almost entirely on the Eastern Seaboard, Philadelphia firms and entrepreneurs had easy access to necessary private financing. The University of Pennsylvania, the region’s most prestigious research institution, was home to one...

    • 5 Selling the New South: Georgia Tech and Atlanta
      (pp. 182-222)

      Unlike Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania, the Georgia Institute of Technology was a minor player in the boom in federal support of university research during the first two decades of the Cold War. A state-supported university founded in the late nineteenth century to foster the industrialization of the South, by the 1950s Georgia Tech was a modest place with engineering and science programs that were among the strongest in that part of the country, but that were by no means the national research powerhouses of Stanford and Penn. Likewise, prior to the 1970s, the Atlanta region was a place...

    • Conclusion The Next Silicon Valley
      (pp. 225-234)

      The city of knowledge outlasted both the Cold War science complex and the Levittown-style suburban subdivision. These cities endure as centers of high-tech innovation and productivity, magnets for the professional class, with powerful research universities as their intellectual centers. While labeled “high-tech regions,” most of the late twentieth century’s most successful examples maintained the carefully assembled formula of people, firms, institutions, and spatial design that characterized the scientific communities of the early Cold War. These places have been profoundly important to the way in which we live and work, influencing not only the regional economies in which they are located...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 235-290)
  10. Index
    (pp. 291-298)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 299-302)