Rust Belt Cities Shouldn't Demolish Their Way to the Future

In a piece for CityLab, Richey Pipparinen argues that trigger-happy city officials need to slow down their push to demolish homes.

1 minute read

March 9, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

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Shrinking rust belt cities often manage decline by getting rid of vacant housing. In the short term, that means unsightly and unloved buildings are demolished or literally burned down in some cases. "The problem, of course, is that if you manage decline you are likely to get, well, decline," Richey Pipparinen writes for CityLab. Pipparinen reports that, increasingly, studies are showing that this strategy doesn't lead to turnarounds and neighborhoods that have dramatically reduced their housing did not see their housing market bounce back. 

"Perfecting managed decline is an example of the 'fallacy of the first attitude,' a term Lewis Mumford used when describing how leaders make decisions on the assumption that yesterday’s trend lines will carry on indefinitely," Pipparinen argues. Instead of adopting a defeatist attitude toward cities and neighborhoods, city officials would do better to use their existing assets to prepare for a future that is uncertain—for growing and shrinking cities alike.

Sunday, March 5, 2017 in CityLab

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