Amazon Has Created the Blueprint for American Cities

What will the next successful cities have in common?

Photographer: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone's got a theory about where Amazon should put its second North America headquarters. I came up with a list of six cities, and both Brookings and the New York Times offer well-thought-out lists of contenders. There are perhaps a dozen or more cities that would plausibly work. That fact alone is revealing.

That Amazon has such wide latitude shows the end of the "installation age" of technology, when innovation was the goal and proximity to tech peers was key. An epochal shift to the "deployment age," when established technologies become more established, will have big implications for cities and the U.S. economy.

The installation age of tech is mostly what we've seen in Silicon Valley over the past 25 years: the creation of new technologies like the internet, smartphones and social media. Creative destruction and disruption. Companies founded by college dropouts that became huge, seemingly overnight. Widening economic inequality. Extreme geographic clustering of innovation and economic activity — mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a secondary node of activity in Seattle.