Monday, February 09, 2009

The Three Cities within Youngstown

Janko expanded upon my post about the peaks and valleys of globalization in Ontario. Youngstown is mulling over its own urban triage. Some neighborhoods may be forsaken in order to improve the health of the entire city. I scaled up the metaphor, demonstrating how similar considerations are happening at the regional and mega-regional level. The geography of globalization is forcing us to make some tough choices.

Returning to Richard Florida's research, even global cities such as Toronto are faced with the same problems as Youngstown:

Later this year, [University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski] – associate director for research at the U of T's Cities Centre – and a team of researchers will release an update of their 2007 report The Three Cities within Toronto. Their new analysis of data from the 2006 census confirms a trend they found in the first study: the income gap between Toronto's rich areas and poor areas is growing, while its middle-income neighbourhoods are disappearing.

If Youngstown can successfully globalize, then the urban redevelopment will be dramatically uneven. The spatial pattern will begin resemble that of Toronto. From Youngstown's perspective, something is better than nothing. But be careful what you wish for ...

The fate of the urban middle class is of increasing concern. Just to offer a point of consideration: Is our romanticizing of the middle class just as much of an anachronism as an industrial economy? Is the shrinking of the middle class necessarily a bad thing?

Update: Somewhat related, consider Ryan Avent's comments about ideas to restructure how infrastructure money is doled out:

Along those lines, see Ed Glaeser on infrastructure spending, and Chris Bradford (the Austin Contrarian) on Ed Glaeser. Chris actually suggests we get rid of the DOT and let metropolitan areas keep their own transportation funds. That plan would have the salutary effect of preventing revenues raised in metropolitan areas from going to politically driven projects in rural places. On the other hand, if transportation revenues are primarily derived from gas taxes, it might encourage short-sighted cities to try and facilitate more driving. And I wonder if metropolitan-based spending, with no national coordination, might impede development of regional transportation networks.
Metro-driven federal spending would exacerbate the dominant geographic patterns stemming from economic globalization.

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