This volume critically challenges the current creative city debate from a historical perspective. In the last two decades, urban studies has been engulfed by a creative city narrative in which concepts like the creative economy, the creative class or creative industries proclaim the status of the city as the primary site of human creativity and innovation. So far, however, nobody has challenged the core premise underlying this narrative, asking why we automatically have to look at cities as being the agents of change and innovation. What processes have been at work historically before the predominance of cities in nurturing creativity and innovation was established? In order to tackle this question, the editors of this volume have collected case studies ranging from Renaissance Firenze and sixteenth-century Antwerp to early modern Naples, Amsterdam, Bologna, Paris, to industrializing Sheffield and nineteenth-and twentieth century cities covering Scandinavian port towns, Venice, and London, up to the French techno-industrial city Grenoble. Jointly, these case studies show that a creative city is not an objective or ontological reality, but rather a complex and heterogenic "assemblage," in which material, infrastructural and spatial elements become historically entangled with power-laden discourses, narratives and imaginaries about the city and urban actor groups.

part I|42 pages


chapter 1|20 pages

Cities of a Lesser God

Opening the Black Box of Creative Cities and Their Agency
ByIlja Van Damme, Bert De Munck

part II|132 pages

From the Renaissance to Industrialisation

chapter 3|20 pages

The Urban Imaginary as a Social and Economic Factor

Renaissance Cities and the Fabrication of Quality, Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries
ByBert De Munck, Anna Bellavitis

chapter 4|20 pages

In Search of the New Rome?

Creative Cities and Early Modern Travel Behaviour
ByGerrit Verhoeven

chapter 5|20 pages

Cultural Creativity and Symbolic Economy in Early Modern Naples

Music and Theatre as Cultural Industries
ByAlida Clemente, Rossella del Prete

chapter 6|22 pages

Mirroring Two Golden Ages

Values and Visions in Seventeenth- and Nineteenth-Century Amsterdam
ByClaartje Rasterhoff

chapter 7|27 pages

Manufacturing Innovation as Spatial Culture

Sheffield’s Cutlery Industry, circa 1750–1900
BySam Griffiths

chapter 8|21 pages

Paris and Bologna in the Nineteenth Century

A New Relationship Between Urban Culture and Industrialisation
ByFrancis Démier, Elena Musiani

part III|83 pages

Modern Times

chapter 9|20 pages

Grenoble, Capital of the Alps, Innovative City

An Innovation-Led Territorial Regime
ByGuy Saez

chapter 10|19 pages

Creating the Creative Urban Waterfront in Scandinavia

Harbour Areas from Industrial Multitude to Planned Creative Spaces
ByMikkel Thelle

chapter 11|21 pages

The Venice International Film Festival and the City

Building a Cultural Tourist Destination by Juxtaposition
ByGiovanni Favero, Anna Moretti

chapter 12|21 pages

Building the Creative City

London’s Southbank and the Archaeology of Creative Spaces
ByKathy Williams, Dave O’Brien

part IV|12 pages