During the latter part of the 20th century, hundreds of once-vibrant American cities experienced job loss, growing poverty, and shrinking populations. With dramatic industrial decline, cities like Newark, New Jersey lost a third of their population and saw nearly 30 percent of their residents drop to living below the poverty line over the course of just four decades. A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution identified 65 American cities, many of them older industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest, that are lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of economic health and residential well-being.
Ensuring the continued economic success of our country depends on revitalizing these cities and restoring them to the economic, political, and cultural hubs they once were. Change is possible, but it won’t happen by chance.
Instead, states, regions, and cities must coordinate together to invest in these urban centers and create policies that set the stage for revitalization to occur. The Restoring Prosperity Initiative, a joint effort of groups in six states and at the national level, provides a roadmap for revitalizing America’s struggling cities
States with Struggling Cities: Click on a map to see a larger version with older industrial cities marked. (Partner states shaded in dark)
Western US / Eastern US / Northeastern US
The time is ripe for change, given the success of downtown revitalization in cities across the country, increasing demographic changes, and new administrations that are welcoming revitalization agendas. With over 16 million people and nearly 8.6 million jobs, older industrial cities remain a vital, if undervalued, part of our economy. With a concerted, collaborative, and innovative effort in these cities and states, the overall benefits of city revitalization—for families, for suburbs, for the environment, and ultimately for states—are potentially enormous.