Discuss Detroit Archives - January 2008 Comparing Detroit with Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh Previous Next
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Username: Douglasm

Post Number: 1088
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 7:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Has there ever been a thread comparing the decline of Detroit with the fates of other major industrial "rust belt" cities like Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh? I guess what I'm looking for is how did each city weather the blue collar decline and how are they doing now?

If there is such a thread, could you direct me to it, and if there isn't, you have an opinion?
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 4797
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 7:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lots of various threads, perhaps not directly addressing it the way you have.

There are elements in each of those cities that we can compare ourselves too. In the end, we are much larger than all of them, yet we still have a lot to learn from them all (in terms of playing off of transit and density in order to redevelop). Pittsburgh is by far the most rebounded and vibrant city out of those.
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Username: Mind_field

Post Number: 900
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 8:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There was recently a thread on here about Pittsburgh. I have visited once, and Pittsburgh is a great city. Very vibrant, beautiful topography, relatively safe, lots of retail left in the neighborhoods, and they are PROACTIVE about mass transit.
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Username: Mike

Post Number: 1358
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 8:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

everything that mind field said plus the intangible that those suburbs surrounding those cities actually like their central city
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Username: Fastcarsfreedom

Post Number: 316
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 9:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Buffalo, while a great town, has had the roughest time of the 3 mentioned--it's population continues to shrink, it's downtown is devoid of most retail and it has a high urban indigent population. In the early 80s, when both Bethlehem and Republic Steel closed in short order, it took well over 10,000 jobs out of the area in one hit and the city has never fully rebounded from that. Nonetheless, they have some rebirth in neighborhoods such as Allentown and those around the Universities. Transit is a touchy issue there--their above grade/below grade system called Metrorail has lost a ton of money since it was built--mainly because it was never expanded and connects to nothing enroute.
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Username: Cooper

Post Number: 14
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Sunday, May 18, 2008 - 12:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ed Glaeser, an economist at Harvard, wrote an interesting (aka controversial) article on Buffalo. He recounts the city's decline and argues that the federal government should stop financing projects to save the city as a place and focus instead solely on helping individual people, even if that means they flee the city in greater numbers.

I don't agree -- I think we should help people *and* places (building and then abandoning great cities has great human and environmental costs) -- but it's worth reading:

http://www.city-journal.org/ht ml/17_4_buffalo_ny.html

Newark also has a lot of parallels to Detroit and a reformist young mayor, Cory Booker, who, unlike Kwame, may actually save the city. I wrote about him on my blog awhile back when the New Yorker profiled him:

http://thinkdetroit.blogspot.c om/2008/02/reformer-in-newark. html
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Username: Erikto

Post Number: 703
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008 - 7:27 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I wasn't wild about that article by d Glaeser, but thanks indeed for posting it, Cooper. I'm rather surprised this Harvard economics professor seriously compared Buffalo to Manhattan in the seventies, as if such a comparison could ever be fair- I mean, how many American cities are anything like NYC? Furthermore, I've seen and read plenty about NYC in the 1970's and it qualified as being n'in decline' just like many or most American cities. Glaeser seems to believe Ed Koch presided over good times and laid the ground work for the 90's boom.
Then, he seems to think Buffalo ought to have tried competing with Wall Street in the paper-hustling market. Buffalo has had its problems over the years, but I didn't like Mr. Glaeser's analysis. I wonder if he writes differently when he's working on piece for the Manhattan Institute?

Finally, has anyone here seen the documentary "Street Fight", about Cory Booker's two runs for mayor in Newark? That was a real eye opener for me.
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 91
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008 - 9:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Douglasm, I don't think that any city that has seen a great decline in its manufacturing base has fared well or reinvented itself enough to be called a success. True, some industrial cities have created cool projects (light rail being a DetroitYES perennial favorite), but overall their industry will continue to decline as companies look for cheaper labor and less regulation elsewhere. Unless we decide to restrict imports or require foreign goods to be made following our laws, I can't see conditions improving.

Wish I could have sugar-coated it, but that's how I see it.

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