A pair of scholars examined 18 cities that were once industrial powerhouses in the Northeast and Midwest but declined in the mid-20th century, losing jobs and population, and now facing daunting social, economic and operational changes. In a recent editorial the Hartford Courant compared Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman’s findings as to which cities were recovering and why with Hartford, a city whose population has declined since its peak in the 1950’s and facing a host of negative indicators like high unemployment.
The scholars recommend reversing population decline should be the result of positive physical, social and economic changes that drive growth, rather than be a goal in itself. They also warn again mega-proejcts that drain public resources without leading to revitalization, such as casinos and convention centers. Instead Mr. Mallach and Ms. Brachman strongly recommend a pattern of “strategic incrementalism,” for progression toward a shared vision. The Hartford Courant advocates that Hartford consider regionalizing services with its suburban neighbors as a step towards reviving itself.