Why Is Rent So High? The Answer’s Buried in Microfilm


why is rent so high

Vladimir Mucibabic/iStock.com

Ever heard of microfilm? It’s an arcane technology that shrinks newspapers down to the size of hockey pucks for easy storage; a once-high-tech “reader” (actually a big box with a lightbulb) is then used to blow them up on a screen to view. And reading microfilm is torture. Which is why you’ve gotta hand it to Eric Fischer, who recently transcribed 30 years of rental ads to answer the $3,500/month question: Why is rent so high, in Silicon Valley and other places across the country?

To find out, Fischer—a digital cartographer who makes mind-blowing maps that have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art—compiled data on the median price of a two-bedroom apartment advertised in the San Francisco Chronicle for every year going back to 1979, the

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