January 1, 2013

Revitalizing American Cities

By: Susan M. Wachter and Kimberly A. Zeuli

“America’s older industrial cities once powered the nation’s economy. Now these places must adapt to a new reality in which the U.S. manufacturing industry is no longer ascendant. Required reading for anyone working to stabilize and strengthen America’s industrial cities.”—Manny Diaz, former Mayor of Miami and past President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors

Small and mid-sized cities played a key role in the Industrial Revolution in the United States as hubs for the shipping, warehousing, and distribution of manufactured products. But as the twentieth century brought cheaper transportation and faster communication, these cities were hit hard by population losses and economic decline. In the twenty-first century, many former industrial hubs—from Springfield to Wichita, from Providence to Columbus—are finding pathways to reinvention. With innovative urban policies and design, once-declining cities are becoming the unlikely pioneers of postindustrial urban revitalization.

“Wachter and Zeuli have created an invaluable resource for anyone involved in reinvigorating our struggling cities. This volume offers important insights into the practices needed to create the kinds of vital cities necessary for broader economic opportunity for all.”—Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League

Revitalizing American Cities explores the historical, regional, and political factors that have allowed some industrial cities to regain their footing in a changing economy. The volume discusses national patterns and drivers of growth and decline, presents case studies and comparative analyses of decline and renewal, considers approaches to the problems that accompany the vacant land and blight common to many of the country’s declining cities, and examines tactics that cities can use to prosper in a changing economy. Featuring contributions from scholars and experts of urban planning, economic development, public policy, and education, Revitalizing American Cities provides a detailed, illuminating look at past and possible reinventions of resilient American cities.

Contributors: Frank S. Alexander, Eugenie L. Birch, Paul C. Brophy, Steven Cochrane, Gilles Duranton, Sean Ellis, Kyle Fee, Edward Glaeser, Daniel Hartley, Yolanda K. Kodrzycki, Sophia Koropeckyj, Alan Mallach, Ana Patricia Muñoz, Jeremy Nowak, Laura W. Perna, Aaron Smith, Catherine Tumber, Susan M. Wachter, Kimberly A. Zeuli.

Susan M. Wachter is Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management and Professor of Real Estate and Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of City and Regional Planning at PennDesign. She codirects the Penn Institute for Urban Research and is coeditor of numerous books, including Neighborhood and Life Chances, Growing Greener Cities, and The American Mortgage System, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kimberly A. Zeuli is Senior Vice President and Director of Research and Advisory Services for the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. She has held faculty positions at the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was formerly Vice President of Community Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

“The American economy’s success resides in its ability to continually remake itself. This is clearest in our cities. Read this book to understand why some cities succeed at this and others fall short.”—Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics


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