National Welcoming Week and News Updates

Today, on National Citizenship Day, President Obama launched the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign to celebrate immigrant and refugee contributions to our country’s social and cultural fabric, and to provide critical resources for those on the path to becoming American citizens. Noting the vital role immigrants have for our country’s continued economic prosperity, President Obama released a video message to encourage residents to commit to US Citizenship today.

In conjunction with this announcement, the White House Task Force on New Americans is coordinating with local partners who are holding over 70 citizenship outreach events across the country this week. Many of America’s legacy cities are taking the lead in creating a welcoming environment for immigrants to thrive and contribute back to their communities. The campaign was launched in conjunction with community partners and civic leaders across the country. The #StandStrongerUS campaign is also working with organizations like the PVBLIC Foundation, an in-kind grant making organization, to harness the power of donated advertising space from leading media companies.… Read More

What’s New(s) in Legacy Cities

2015 is off with a bang!

Announcing three upcoming events plus our media round-up covering legacy cities news this month. It’s already been a busy year.

EVENTS

Urban Sustainability Meetups in Detroit, NYC (and SF and LA)
Meetups under the banner of “urban sustainability” have formed as informal groups of dedicated urbanists of all ages in cities around the country.  Staff from the American Assembly helped to organize the Meetup in New York which has an event this Sunday, January 25th at the Queens Museum on Urban Renewal, and its every-other month happy hour on Thursday, February 5. Also scheduled is an Urban Sustainability Meetup in Detroit on Thursday, February 5th.

Next City Vanguard Leadership Conference
Next City’s 6th annual Vanguard Leadership Conference will be in Reno, NV from May 6th to 8th. Applications are due on Feb. 8th, but you can save $10 on the application if you apply before Feb.… Read More

A Call for Hope and Action

jeffjohnsonjpg-5c89c13a1efde7c7_mediumBy Councilman Jeff Johnson

As a member of Cleveland City Council, I have been challenged to respond to some difficult issues within the urban neighborhoods of the city. One of those issues is how to preserve Cleveland’s cultural heritage, including the structures and sites that are historic and important to the city, while it goes through very difficult economic and social change. Of course I know what I am facing in Cleveland are the same challenges that other leaders in Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Buffalo, and many other cities are also seeing each day. It was these significant challenges that led me earlier this year to work with the Cleveland Restoration Society and Cleveland State University to plan and organize the Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities conference in June. I was delighted and inspired by what I learned during the three days at the conference.

I was particularly energized by the workshop on the last day of the conference, as a room full of participants with diverse talents and experiences talked about the previous two days and the priority issues for historic preservation in our legacy cities.… Read More

Preservation as Change of Mind

margoBy Margo Warminski

I grew up in 48205. (Google it.) I lived in a place where the American dream went into reverse, and kept going backward. Eventually I moved to a calmer zip code but kept the Rust Belt DNA. Which is why I couldn’t wait to spend three days at the Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities conference in Cleveland.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Throw so many bright, engaged, outspoken urbanists in a (big) room and you can’t help but be inspired, and challenged by tough truths (Looking for happy talk? Keep looking.) like:

1. For years, much of preservation was oriented toward controlling growth: a manifest destiny of new restoration districts, better ordinances and more wood windows. But what happens when the wheels come off and, in some neighborhoods, you can’t even give houses away? Preservationists, not just in rusty cities, need a change of mind: learning to live within limits.… Read More

Sacred Landmarks: The Jewish/African American Connection

kathleenheadBy Kerri Broome and Dawn Ellis

Nationally, the relationship between Jewish and African American communities is complex, nuanced and richly textured. Throughout the years, both groups have been able to find similarities in their history and to empathize with the other. When it comes to housing, both groups have faced discrimination and restriction, and have, consequently, found themselves sharing neighborhoods. The Great Migration of African Americans and the second wave of Jewish immigrants (Eastern European) partially overlapped, resulting in large numbers of these two groups locating in prescribed areas of northern American cities, such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland.

The first Jewish immigrants arrived in Cleveland from Germany in the 1830s, settling primarily in the Central area and gradually moving eastward towards the suburbs through the end of the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th century. The subsequent wave of Jewish Eastern Europeans to move into Cleveland in the 1870s and 1880s entered into areas already inhabited by the earlier Jewish immigrants.… Read More

Vacancy at Various Scales

terry_schwarzBy Terry Schwarz

Surplus real estate is a common characteristic of legacy cities. Population decline and the ongoing effects of the foreclosure crisis have led to an unprecedented number of vacant and abandoned buildings, which in turn has given rise to the large-scale demolition programs underway in Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, and many other legacy cities. In the wake of demolition efforts, cities need to take a thoughtful approach to the management and reuse of vacant land, given that much of this land is unlikely to be redeveloped in the foreseeable future.

Detroit has over 100,000 vacant lots within city limits. Philadelphia has approximately 40,000 vacant lots. In Cleveland, the current count stands at about 21,000. Community gardens, greening projects, side yard expansions, and infill development are the most frequent responses to urban vacancy, but these strategies only address a small percentage of the large and growing inventories of vacant land in legacy cities.… Read More

From Kiev to Cleveland: Immigrants & Industry in Legacy Cities

annetrubekBy Anne Trubek

Say Cleveland manufacturing and many think steel. But there was a large, influential, and vibrant garment industry in the city, too. By the middle of the 20th century, a good percentage of the clothes that Americans wore were produced in Cleveland. At one point, one in seven Clevelanders worked in the garment industry, the city employed thousands of seamstresses and pressers, was second to New York in size and the source of much America’s ready-to-wear clothing. Richman Brothers was once the largest retail manufacturer in the world in its imposing building on E. 55th street. Joseph & Feiss was the country’s largest manufacturer. And there were hundreds of other businesses. They were almost all family run, and they were almost entirely Jewish.

Why have we forgotten this part of the city’s history? Most of the garment businesses were small—Richman Brothers and Joseph & Feiss are the exceptions—and thus lesser known.… Read More

Strong Cities: Flint, Gary, St. Louis, Macon & more

By Stephanie Sung

The Obama Administration and the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative (SC2) have recently announced its expansion to include seven new cities:

Brownsville, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Rockford, Illinois; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and St. Louis, Missouri.

SC2 is a program that helps link urban leadership with federal resources and expertise with the hopes that it will help reduce red tape and improve local capacity. What this means is that the federal government has placed capable officials in cities that could use them. People like Kathleen Fox, SC2 Fellow and recent Legacy Cities Design Initiative participant, have been on the ground for nearly two years in several legacy cities, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Detroit and New Orleans.… Read More

Historic Preservation Conference: Call for Presentations by Feb 1st

The American Assembly has posted a call for presentations for an upcoming interdisciplinary meeting to discuss the role of historic preservation in revitalizing America’s legacy cities.

The Assembly is partnering with Cleveland State University and the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CEOs for Cities, and over two dozen other organizations to bring together key stakeholders and decision-makers from cities where entrenched population loss and economic decline present difficult challenges for the future of the urban built environment to discuss historic preservation.

From the CSU call for presentations:

At this crucial juncture, cities face difficult questions. What is the role that preservation can and should play in shaping the future of legacy cities? How can historic assets be identified and leveraged for planning and revitalization? What benefits and impediments exist in integrating preservation into community and economic development? How should we make decisions about what to save and what to destroy?

Read More

Moving from Balkanized to Globalized in Cleveland

AaronRenn_350By Aaron Renn

“Cleveland didn’t decline because industry left. Cleveland didn’t decline because people left. Vacant houses are not Cleveland’s cross to bear. Cleveland’s ultimate problem is that it is cut off from the global flow of people and ideas. Cleveland needs to be more tapped into the world.”

Jim Russell and Richey Piiparinen have released a new whitepaper on Cleveland that should be read by anyone looking to reboot the economies of struggling post-industrial cities. Released under the auspices of Ohio City, Inc., “From Balkanized Cleveland to Global Cleveland: A Theory of Change For Legacy Cities” looks at how a lack of population churn has stunted Cleveland’s ability to connect to the global economy.

This paper puts a different spin on talent and the knowledge economy. “Knowledge” is not just facts acquired through education or work experience. It also includes the set of personal relationships and knowledge of other places and social networks that we all carry to some extent.… Read More