Perfect City

PERFECT CITY: An Urban Fixer’s Global Search for Magic in the Modern Metropolis
by Joe Berridge
April 2019 – Sutherland House (Canada)

Joe Berridge travels the world on an audacious quest for the perfect city. He takes us with him on an exhilarating tour, offering an experienced eye, insider knowledge, and an understanding of historical and social context. Yet his gaze is fixed firmly on the future as we meet the city and the people who make it work.

The complexity of city making lacks a precise formula. Whom should we follow: the city-bosses exemplified by Robert Moses, or activist Jane Jacobs, who stood in front of bulldozers in New York and brought his expressway construction to a halt?

Berridge explores the urban landscape with insight and relish. We revel in the irrepressible energy of New York. We watch the explosive rise of Shanghai with amazement, and intensely cerebral Singapore charting its unique path.

We witness the near death of Manchester and Belfast, and meet the extraordinary people who changed those cities’ fate. Berridge is intrigued by London’s continuing success, but worries it may have received a fata blow from Brexit.

And then there is Toronto, rising seemingly by accident to the top rank of world cities, whose key to success may be its remarkable welcome to newcomers, the critical ingredient for any dynamic city.

Berridge knows these cities from the inside. Through him, we meet inspiring city mayors and managers, and energetic entrepreneurs and activists. These are the people – the politicians and artists, the citizens and businessmen – who have to work together to make the perfect city.

How do you best do that, and what do you do when they have been killing each other? Indeed, what is the chemistry of the perfect city?

Joe Berridge is one of the world’s most experienced planners. He grew up in a small country town in England. Reading Jane Jacob’s DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES at university he knew he had to get to the big city, where he has worked with delight ever since.


“There is nobody better to help us build a more perfect city than Joe Berridge. Based on decades of experience and hands-on work in cities across the world, his book is the playbook for building great cities. Read it if you want to help build a great city or just live in one that is more perfect for you.”—Richard Florida, University of Toronto, Author Rise of the Creative Class