So we have New York entrenched as America's first city, and Washington, DC increasingly its new "Second City." Los Angeles, which seems to have never quite recovered from the early 90s defense draw down, and Chicago with its 2000s malaise, seem to be the victims of DC's rise. Another loser is Boston, which has seen its status as a financial hub decline and whose Route 128 corridor of tech, having first lost out to Silicon Valley, now appears to be losing out to NYC.
It's all about New York, even the rise of DC. At the end of his piece, Aaron asks for a more formal analysis. Some simple demographic noodling over at Discover Magazine:
For me the biggest surprise is how much the trajectory of Chicago resembles stereotypical “Rust Belt” cities. Unlike New York City Chicago lost population in the aughts. In some ways New York City is sui generis. I went through the precipitous near collapse in the 1970s, just as the smaller cities of the Heartland, but over the past few decades it has refashioned itself, exhibiting a demographic vigor to match Los Angles [sic] on the West coast. A second surprise is Philadelphia’s robustness. Unlike the Midwestern cities it seems to have developed some “stabilizers.”
Emphasis added. I'm not surprised by Philadelphia's "robustness". Taking the above two narratives together, the United States is reduced to New York City and its impressive sphere of influence. Globalization for the United States is Greater Greater New York City. Both Philadelphia and DC benefit from their proximity to NYC. The rest of America is flyover country.
For cities not New York, what does that mean? The matter is connectivity if you don't have proximity. Cleveland is at the end of both the NYC and Chicago watersheds. Head to Pittsburgh and you will find an East Coast oriented city. Functionally, Cleveland could go either way. The advice for Cleveland is to ignore Chicago and go all in on New York.
More practically, Cleveland could and should go through Pittsburgh. The reordering of the urban hierarchy is a huge boon for Pittsburgh, a.k.a. NYC West. Pittsburgh's #1 source for migrants was New York for 2009-2010. As for Chicago, it is down a bit further (9th). Concerning destinations for Pittsburgh migrants, Chicago is ranked 16th. Charlotte, NC has a greater pull than Chicago. In fact, significantly more people (~40%) are moving from Chicago to Pittsburgh than the other way around. For a global city, Chicago isn't much of a draw.