Working Paper
Miquel-Àngel Garcia-López, Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal

2022/08: The role of historic amenities in shaping cities

The existence of amenities matters to understanding people’s residential choices. Our theoretical model extends the standard urban model by introducing exogenous amenities to explain population allocation within cities. To estimate the model predictions, we focus on historic amenities using detailed geolocated data for 579 European cities. We analyze how the shape of city centers endowed or not endowed with these amenities is affected. We measure historic amenities with the location of buildings from the Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance-Baroque periods. Our results show that cities with historic buildings in their centers have steeper population density gradients, are more compact and centralized, and have been less affected by the suburbanization processes caused by transportation improvements. Heterogeneity analyses show that the quantity and the quality of historic buildings also matter. Several robustness checks controlling for natural and modern amenities and testing for the spatial scope of these amenities verify our main results.

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