Miracles of spontaneous order: where to get a cab around NYU

The New York Times has this wonderful interactive feature today, where you can see where most cab pickups and dropoffs happen at any time of day on any day. It confirms a puzzling feature that I had already observed: getting a cab is hopeless at one corner, but if you move just one block over you are sure to get one. The map shows the number of cab pickups around NYU at 5pm on a Friday, the legendary time when it is most difficult to get a cab. Most of the immediate NYU area (around Elmer Holmes Bobst Library)  is a taxi desert, so you have to walk either west to Sixth Avenue (a well known hot spot along most of its length downtown), or east to Lafayette (for example, Astor Place).  One thing that has always puzzled me is that it's always very hard to get a cab on Broadway, running parallel to Lafayette  just one block west.

Here's one amateur theory: the less obvious hot spots (excluding train stations etc.) can emerge out of nothing.  Over time taxi customers expect to get a cab on one street corner. Then taxis are more likely to cruise that street corner because that's where the customers are.  Both customers and taxis keep going to that street corner more and more as both sides come to expect the other to behave that way. And bang, you have now gotten the 1,425,674th example of spontaneous order.

This is a good metaphor for development because....