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The City After Abandonment

Edited by Margaret Dewar and June Manning Thomas

Publication Year: 2012

A number of U.S. cities, former manufacturing centers of the Northeast and Midwest, have suffered such dramatic losses in population and employment that urban experts have put them in a class by themselves, calling them "rustbelt cities," "shrinking cities," and more recently "legacy cities." This decline has led to property disinvestment, extensive demolition, and abandonment. While much policy and planning have focused on growth and redevelopment, little research has investigated the conditions of disinvested places and why some improvement efforts have greater impact than others.

The City After Abandonment brings together essays from top urban planning experts to focus on policy and planning issues related to three questions. What are cities becoming after abandonment? The rise of community gardens and artists' installations in Detroit and St. Louis reveal numerous unexamined impacts of population decline on the development of these cities. Why these outcomes? By analyzing post-hurricane policy in New Orleans, the acceptance of becoming a smaller city in Youngstown, Ohio, and targeted assistance to small areas of Baltimore, Cleveland, and Detroit, this book assesses how varied institutions and policies affect the process of change in cities where demand for property is very weak. What should abandoned areas of cities become? Assuming growth is not a choice, this book assesses widely cited formulas for addressing vacancy; analyzes the sustainability plans of Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Baltimore; suggests an urban design scheme for shrinking cities; and lays out ways policymakers and planners can approach the future through processes and ideas that differ from those in growing cities.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: The City in the Twenty-First Century

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: The City After Abandonment

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pp. 1-14

Since the early 1970s, observers of American cities have noted residential abandonment, concentrated in low- income, oft en minority- race or minorityethnic neighborhoods.1 Loss of neighborhoods reached shocking levels in places such as the South Bronx, where by the mid- 1970s entire blocks of...


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Chapter 1. Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture as Antithesis to Abandonment: Exploring a Citizenship-Land Model

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pp. 17-40

In abandoned cities, vacant land not only signals ongoing depopulation and deindustrialization; it also concerns residents because of its vulnerability to illegal dumping and crime and the associated perceptions of blight. Th ough many residents may dream of restoring their neighborhood to its past vitality...

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Chapter 2. Building Affordable Housing in Cities After Abandonment: The Case of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Developments in Detroit

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pp. 41-63

A consensus exists that housing policy should refl ect local market conditions. In cities that are growing rapidly, promoting aff ordable housing production is necessary to accommodate the rising demand. Yet in cities like Detroit where continuous population loss has created an oversupply of...

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Chapter 3. Detroit Art City: Urban Decline, Aesthetic Production, Public Interest

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pp. 64-84

As Detroit has attracted growing attention as an exemplar of North American postindustrial urban decline, it has also attracted growing attention from artists and architects interested in the material, spatial, cultural, and social conditions of a city marked by depopulation, disinvestment, and decay...


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Chapter 4. Decline-Oriented Urban Governance in Youngstown, Ohio

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pp. 87-103

Population decline presents numerous challenges for municipal offi cials: vacant properties, infrastructure overcapacity, shrinking municipal revenues, and high crime rates. Policies to address these challenges typically focus on attracting outside investment to “grow” the local economy and...

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Chapter 5. Targeting Neighborhoods, Stimulating Markets: The Role of Political, Institutional, and Technical Factors in Three Cities

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pp. 104-132

Cities experiencing abandonment face complex community development demands with diminishing resources. Th is challenge requires city leaders to allocate resources strategically. Countering their inclination to assist all areas with need, offi cials in many cities have determined that targeting...

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Chapter 6. Recovery in a Shrinking City: Challenges to Rightsizing Post-Katrina New Orleans

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pp. 133-150

Five years aft er the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, vacant property remained a daunting challenge for New Orleans. With 47,738 vacant housing units in 2010, its 25 percent vacancy rate was among the highest in the nation.1 In addition to posing serious safety hazards, blighted structures...

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Chapter 7. Missing New Orleans: Lessons from the CDC Sector on Vacancy, Abandonment, and Reconstructing the Crescent City

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pp. 151-173

As in many other major U.S. cities with shrinking populations, the New Orleans experience with vacant and abandoned properties has constituted a signifi cant long- term problem where community development corporations (CDCs) sought to respond. “Vacant and abandoned” properties— including...

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Chapter 8. What Helps or Hinders Nonprofit Developers in Reusing Vacant, Abandoned, and Contaminated Property?

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pp. 174-196

Where vacant, abandoned, and contaminated properties concentrate, community development corporations (CDCs) operate as the major developers along with other nonprofi t developers such as Habitat for Humanity. CDCs, committed to place, remain while for- profi t developers seek higher returns...

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Chapter 9. Targeting Strategies of Three Detroit CDCs

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pp. 197-224

In considering what happens to cities aft er abandonment, and why, it’s essential to note that CDCs have played a major role in helping to fi ll in the gaps left literally by the de mo li tion of abandoned buildings and eco nomical ly by the decline in private investment. Yet we know very little about...


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Chapter 10. Strategic Thinking for Distressed Neighborhoods

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pp. 227-243

In January 2010, New York governor David Paterson announced his Sustainable Neighborhood Project. Designed to “fi ght urban decay and revitalize prime housing stock,” his initiative was a response to the per sis tent population and job loss that beset upstate cities such as Buff alo, Rochester, Syracuse...

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Chapter 11. The Promise of Sustainability Planning for Regenerating Older Industrial Cities

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pp. 244-267

Sustainability has become a critical policy and planning goal, with hundreds of cities launching sustainability initiatives to address threats of global climate change, depleted fossil fuels, and water scarcity.1 As a conceptual framework that seeks balance among environmental, economic, and social...

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Chapter 12. Rightsizing Shrinking Cities: The Urban Design Dimension

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pp. 268-288

Recently urban policy makers have begun to make “rightsizing” a watchword for the perceived mismatch between shrinking city populations, physical and infrastructural plants, and bud gets. Built for a population in some cases over twice that currently within the city limits, shrinking cities now...

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Chapter 13. Planning for Better, Smaller Places After Population Loss: Lessons from Youngstown and Flint

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pp. 289-316

Urban planning focuses on growth. Although many planners work in places with extensive disinvestment, they mainly focus on encouraging and responding to development projects. Much research exists on the causes of decline and abandonment but little on what planners should do when...


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pp. 317-372

List of Contributors

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pp. 373-378


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pp. 379-386

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pp. 387-388

Creating a cohesive book that addresses an issue that literature covers well— the distress of U.S. central cities, particularly where manufacturing has declined— and yet focuses with depth on a topic that is not addressed well at all— how to understand and what to do about cities that have experienced...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207309
E-ISBN-10: 0812207300
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812244465
Print-ISBN-10: 081224446X

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The City in the Twenty-First Century