From 1993 to 2000, I served as a junior faculty member at Columbia University. Today, I received an email from Columbia's Academic Commons informing me that there have been 6580 downloads of papers I posted there in the 1990s. Re-reading some of the papers makes me cringe. On the one hand, I see many good ideas that subsequently generated some citations and contributed to several active literatures. On the other hand, I see raw papers that were not well written. The referee process has a lot of value added.
Of this group of papers, the biggest hits based on Google Scholar are;
1. Kahn and Matsusaka 1997 187 cites , This paper collected county level voting data on more than a dozen California environmental voting initiatives to study the correlates of "pro-green" voting. Robust evidence of the role that education plays in supporting green voting and affected industry counties voting against.
2. Kahn 1999 on Rust Belt Decline, 53 cites , First paper to measure the reduction in pollution in cities such as Pittsburgh brought about as an unintended consequence of Rust Belt industrial decline. So, this is the reverse of the rise of "Satanic Cities". Pollution drops as dirty industry collapses.
3. Cragg and Kahn 1997 on Climate Demand , 98 cites (conditional logit study of state to state migration to measure the willingness to give up consumption = (income -rent) for better climate amenities and how this varies by age and education of the migrant.
4. Kahn 1997 on the Clean Air Act , 90 cites , first paper in the literature examining the unintended consequences of the differential enforcement of the Clean Air Act on the spatial agglomeration of manufacturing jobs. The first draft was written in 1994 before other papers that appeared in the AER and the JPE on the same subject.
5. Kahn 1995 on Revealed Preference , 75 cites (those cities offering high wages and low rents must have low quality of life), no arbitrage argument about bounding the total quality of life differentials between cities based on the private consumption one sacrifices by locating there.
The funny thing is that most scholars do their big work early. As you can see (especially if you sit down and read the early drafts of my Columbia Papers), I did not follow that path.