Downtown Is for People

On the then-new phenomenon of dead downtowns.

“It is not only for amenity but for economics that choice is so vital. Without a mixture on the streets, our downtowns would be superficially standardized, and functionally standardized as well. New construction is necessary, but it is not an unmixed blessing: its inexorable economy is fatal to hundreds of enterprises able to make out successfully in old buildings. Notice that when a new building goes up, the kind of ground-floor tenants it gets are usually the chain store and the chain restaurant. Lack of variety in age and overhead is an unavoidable defect in large new shopping centers and is one reason why even the most successful cannot incubate the unusual--a point overlooked by planners of downtown shopping-center projects.”

Women As Bosses

“Some companies are beginning to allow women to take their management-training courses. A woman sitting in on an executive conference is less of a shock to the male than she was only a few years ago. A few big companies–R.C.A., the Home Life Insurance Co., and the New York Central, for example–have even ushered women into the board room.”

The Last Days of MF Global

“Jon Corzine had never had anything to do with the futures business, had never run a public company, and hadn’t worked on Wall Street for a decade. His time there had ended badly. But by any reasonable standard, the former Goldman chief seemed almost embarrassingly overqualified. Says Flowers: ‘It seemed like we had more CEO than company.’”

How Top Executives Live

“Adaptation is one explanation of how a lot of executives stay alive. As the fish in the Silurian rivers began to develop swim bladders in order to live in shoal waters, so American executives have developed certain compensating features. The process can be observed particularly in the big cities where conditions are the most trying. Executives have developed an insensitivity to noise, an uncanny time sense (needed in commuting), and an attunement to the city’s terrifying rhythms. Instead of trying to escape the phenomenon of modern life they fling themselves at it.”