Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rust Belt Frontier

From the mouths of bloggers to the pages of the Tribune-Review, more people are paying attention to the "vacuum" that is Youngstown. Trib reporter Justin Vellucci wonders if Allegheny County can go down the same path of smart decline. Vellucci is skeptical:

Local officials applauded Youngstown, Ohio's efforts to eliminate blight and tackle quality-of-life issues -- acknowledging parallels with Pittsburgh's Redd Up campaign -- but were hesitant to back a strategy that manages shrinkage over bolstering growth.

The pro-growth development model isn't why Pittsburgh can't emulate Youngstown. What Vellucci is running into is the kind of political resistance that doesn't appear to exist in Youngstown. Pittsburgh is not an ideal location for urban innovation.

Parts of Allegheny County resemble the Youngstown landscape, but the overall situation was never as dire. As a result, the Pittsburgh political machine remains largely intact. There isn't enough desperation to embrace a radical approach to urban development such as smart decline.

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