Legacy City Design / Bruner Loeb Forum 2013

Last week in Detroit, the Legacy City Design Forum convened over a hundred designers, planners, architects, developers, community leaders, public officials and policy makers to share innovative design interventions in legacy cities. Cities represented include: Detroit, Gary, Flint, New Orleans, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Syracuse, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The forum was structured to include comparative case studies between Cleveland, Syracuse, Detroit and Buffalo, and featured guest speakers and interactive work sessions. The two themes of the conference were 1) rethinking land use to create sustainable urban neighborhoods and 2) innovative infrastructure in high vacancy areas.

Check out dispatches from the forum here, courtesy of Next City:
How America’s Largest Historic Public Market District Is Resisting ‘Commercial Gentrification’
Detroit’s Repopulation Question
Syracuse Considers Urban Freeway Removal
Two Cautionary Tales on Housing Access
Rebuilding the Neighborhood Without Leaving Out Neighbors
Saving Detroit’s Basements, One Prairie at a Time

A few great recaps from Barbara Epstein for the LOEBlog, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design:
Fueling Hope
Innovation and Scale
Looking Forward
Pockets of Inspiration

And finally, an article from Architectural Record:
Learning From Legacy Cities

“Legacy Cities” was coined by The American Assembly at Columbia University, which published Rebuilding America’s Legacy Cities, a collection of policy and regulatory reforms necessary to “move the needle” on urban transformation for this unique group of cities.… Read More

Intercity High-Speed Rail and Urban Suburbs

samhershBy Sam Hersh

I am certainly not the first to point out the ability of a high-speed-rail line to bring small cities into the metropolitan area as “semi-urban suburbs.” In fact, the idea is trumpeted about so often, (especially in England where high-speed rail emanating from the south has extended the London megalopolis ever northward) that I fear we in America have started to see high-speed rail as a silver bullet for many struggling legacy cities.

Instead, we should look to such high-speed rail suburbs as a possible asset for metropolitan areas in need. We should not aim to pour the money necessary for a high-speed rail line into any city that seems close enough to benefit. To justify the cost of building a high-speed rail line to a legacy city with the hope of creating an urban suburb, two questions must be asked that challenge the usefulness of the line, not just to the development of the legacy city but to the metropolitan region.… Read More

Lessons from Suburbia

By Stephanie Sung

Mount Laurel, once a small, rural farming town in central New Jersey, has become a model for the integration of affordable housing in higher-income neighborhoods. A report by Princeton sociologist Douglas S. Massey called “Climbing Mount Laurel” reveals the positive outcomes of the long-fought land use battle, finding that fears of crime, drugs and blight were largely unfounded. The affluent families felt no impact, while low-income families saw their lives improve.

In a New York Times article, David L. Kirp reports:

There have been changes in life in Mount Laurel. But the changes are entirely consistent with those in demographically similar suburbs that surround the township. In all these communities, crime rates fell. Property values rose during the housing boom and dipped during the recession. Tax rates declined. Even in the Mount Laurel neighborhoods closest to the affordable housing, property values were unaffected. To most residents, the fact that poor families now live in Mount Laurel has proved entirely irrelevant.

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Rust Belt Living: A Transplant’s Perspective

Amy Hanauer, founding executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, writes in Belt Magazine about what it was like to move to Cleveland in 1998:

Six-month-old in tow, we flew here for a weekend, hooked up with a real-estate agent by a soon-to-be Kent State colleague. “I think Cleveland Heights or Shaker Heights seems like the right fit for us,” I told her assuredly, but she insisted on dragging us through Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson, her out-of-work executive husband unhelpfully along for the ride. “Hudson,” he drawled, in his Texas accent, “is a regular U-NI-ted Nations.”

Adjusting to the changing tides of the city:

We didn’t know then that the roomy bookstore would close a few years later, along with countless other bookstores in America [. . .]. We didn’t yet know that one failed school levy too many would eventually push us, then with two kids, three miles south to Shaker, another well-integrated suburb but one that more consistently funds its schools.

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Remaking Cities Congress Sketches Agenda for the Post-Industrial City

bradshawhoveyBy Bradshaw Hovey

Three hundred fifty city-makers from across the United States and Europe convened in Pittsburgh last week (October 15-18) to craft an agenda – perhaps a manifesto – for the regeneration of the post-industrial city.

The outlines of the work produced by the “Remaking Cities Congress” will be familiar to supporters of the legacy cities movement: promote reuse of vacant buildings and land, support education and innovation for economic growth, improve mobility for all and address the deep inequities of opportunity and condition that rend the city fabric on both continents.

The workshop element of the conference included five themed groups each of which featured paired European and North American case studies: Bilbao & Milwaukee, the Ruhr Valley & Buffalo, Manchester-Liverpool & Greater Toronto, Rotterdam & New Orleans, Turin & Detroit.

“Propositions” that received overwhelming support from the attendees in closing “clicker” or keypad voting included:

• Invest in education to cultivate talent
• Connect the city through multi-modal mobility
• Grow entrepreneurial capacity
• Make housing adaptable and flexible
• Provide financial incentives for re-use
• Confront racism and marginalization
• Cultivate the “soul” of the city

Those preliminary results, along with extended profiles on the case study cities, will become the subject of a book on reemerging post-industrial cities for publication in 2014 or beyond.… Read More

Welcome to the Legacy Cities Blog!

Dear all –

Welcome to the beta site of the American Assembly’s Legacy Cities blog! We are excited to continue developing this site and turn this into an active forum and base of knowledge sharing between our community working to advance legacy cities, as well as a way to connect the diverse and growing group of emerging professionals in legacy cities, including city leaders from the public sector, business owners, university presidents, community board members and the diaspora beyond.

We want to seize the opportunity to look at legacy cities from a national perspective. Our central goals embrace this “big picture” role:

1. Be a connector of ideas: track activities from other city/regional micro-blogs, along with national media sources, and draw meaningful connections between individuals and organizations active in separate but related spaces.

2. Produce content via guest contributors (opinion, analysis, case studies, interactive media) that expands on a local issue and makes it more applicable to a broader legacy cities audience.… Read More

Midwestern Legacy Cities Attract New Immigrant Waves

With help from local businesses and organizations, the city of Dayton attracts new immigrant waves from Turkey and Kenya.

Local groups gave courses for immigrants opening small businesses and helped families of refugees and foreign students. City officials worked with Wright State University, a public institution, to find ways for immigrant doctors and engineers to cut through bureaucracy and gain certifications so they could practice in the United States.

 Read the full New York Times article here »Read More