NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Creative Destruction: Barriers to Urban Growth and the Great Boston Fire of 1872

Richard Hornbeck, Daniel Keniston

NBER Working Paper No. 20467
Issued in September 2014
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Development Economics, Environment and Energy Economics, Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Law and Economics, Public Economics

Historical city growth, in the United States and worldwide, has required remarkable transformation of outdated durable buildings. Private land-use decisions may generate inefficiencies, however, due to externalities and various rigidities. This paper analyzes new plot-level data in the aftermath of the Great Boston Fire of 1872, estimating substantial economic gains from the created opportunity for widespread reconstruction. An important mechanism appears to be positive externalities from neighbors' reconstruction. Strikingly, gains from this opportunity for urban redevelopment were sufficiently large that increases in land values were comparable to the previous value of all buildings burned.

download in pdf format
   (1650 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20467

Published: Richard Hornbeck & Daniel Keniston, 2017. "Creative Destruction: Barriers to Urban Growth and the Great Boston Fire of 1872," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(6), pages 1365-1398, June. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Hanlon w20471 Temporary Shocks and Persistent Effects in the Urban System: Evidence from British Cities after the U.S. Civil War
Alsan and Goldin w21263 Watersheds in Infant Mortality: The Role of Effective Water and Sewerage Infrastructure, 1880 to 1915
Allcott and Keniston w20508 Dutch Disease or Agglomeration? The Local Economic Effects of Natural Resource Booms in Modern America
Kahn and Walsh w20503 Cities and the Environment
Kim w12246 Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1880
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us