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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 8:13 PM
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The Midwest and Northeast brings new cachet to living and working in the Rust Belt

The Rust Belt Has Arrived


February 2011

By Tod Newcombe



Read More: http://www.governing.com/columns/urb...t-Arrived.html

Rustwire Magazine: http://rustwire.com/

Quote:
Step aside Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. Sorry, but you’re just not cool anymore. These days, you need to have crumbling roads, triple-decker apartment buildings, old-fashioned neighborhood bars and lots of rust to gain any hipster cred. When Anthony Bourdain, host of the trendy travel and food show No Reservations, passes up Tuscany, Provence and Barcelona to visit Baltimore, Buffalo and Detroit, you know the Rust Belt has arrived. The "rust is chic" movement has been around for a while, but thanks to blogs and online magazines, such as RustWire.com, a certain fascination with places that have fallen on hard times like the Rust Belt -- which stretches from the Midwest through the mid-Atlantic and up into the Northeast -- has taken hold.

Part of it is the scruffy, industrial look. It may also be a rejection of cities with gleaming condo towers, bistros and boutiques that were once so trendy yet now seem so frothy and fake in the wake of the economic meltdown. But the other fascination is the defiance these Rust Belt cities have shown. Many of them, such as the gritty cities Bourdain visits, reflect a rebellious attitude. Youngstown, Ohio, has to be the poster child of this stance. Once part of America’s steel manufacturing hub, Youngstown went into a death spiral as the industry collapsed in the mid-1970s. Today, Youngstown’s population is 75,000, less than half of its original size, and is 43 percent vacant.

Yet nearly 10 years ago, the city made the bold decision to embrace its new shrunken state rather than put time and money into trying to grow back. Public officials created a master plan, called Youngstown 2010, that envisioned a smaller, but thriving city with a more diversified economy. Indeed by 2010, certain elements of what Youngstown could become were falling into place. The downtown area has come back to life, and more importantly, economic development has begun to take hold, delivering an interesting range of jobs to the area. The Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) has played a key role, providing free or reduced rent and equipment to startup software companies. Ohio provides a large chunk of the YBI’s funding, and the payoff so far is about 300 technology jobs.

.....
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 8:32 PM
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How nice of this guy to lump Baltimore in with cities that are nowhere near it, and suffered industrial declines far worse than it did. Baltimore is as much as part of the Rust Belt as Nashville is.
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 9:52 PM
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Oh... I wasn't aware that Baltimore's population didn't decline 35% from 949,708 in 1950 to 620,961 in 2010. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't have a murder rate in the 40 per 100,000 range. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't lose tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last 50 years. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't have vast tracts of vacant and dilapidated housing. Baltimore may benefit from being in the capital region, but it has suffered much of the same hardships as the rust belt. In fact, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and dozens of smaller northeastern coastal cities were originally lumped into the rust belt in the 70's and 80's. While cities like New York and Boston have shed that image, it is still very much alive with Baltimore.
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Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
Oh... I wasn't aware that Baltimore's population didn't decline 35% from 949,708 in 1950 to 620,961 in 2010. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't have a murder rate in the 40 per 100,000 range. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't lose tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last 50 years. I wasn't aware that Baltimore didn't have vast tracts of vacant and dilapidated housing. Baltimore may benefit from being in the capital region, but it has suffered much of the same hardships as the rust belt. In fact, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and dozens of smaller northeastern coastal cities were originally lumped into the rust belt in the 70's and 80's. While cities like New York and Boston have shed that image, it is still very much alive with Baltimore.
Baltimore did have all of that but it still doesn't have quite the bombed out look other Rust Belt Cities have......
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 10:16 PM
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All I know is St. Louis is back in a BIG way. RUSTBELT LIVES!!
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 10:27 PM
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Baltimore did have all of that but it still doesn't have quite the bombed out look other Rust Belt Cities have......
Neither do the other rust belt cities...
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2011, 11:55 PM
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There is a lot of rust belt in my soul. As much as I enjoy sparkling towers with retail & dining to match, it doesn't satisfy. The creativity used in carving a gracious life among the ruins gets my imagination going.

Even in non rust-belt cities, I seek out striver's row and beauty rising from shunned, forgotten places.
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  #8  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
In fact, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and dozens of smaller northeastern coastal cities were originally lumped into the rust belt in the 70's and 80's. While cities like New York and Boston have shed that image, it is still very much alive with Baltimore.
Okay, but that doesn't make Baltimore part of the Rust Belt, which is, in current parlance, equated with the Great Lakes and a few Midwestern outliers like Cincinnati and St. Louis. The Rust Belt is geographical, not qualitative.

Baltimore has problems with crime, and population loss has occurred. But you can say the exact same thing about New York, Boston, Newark, or DC. The fact that Philly and Baltimore don't have the robust economies of some of their seaboard peers don't make them Rust Belt.
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Last edited by ardecila; Feb 13, 2011 at 12:19 AM.
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  #9  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 12:14 AM
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Baltimore was the only major city in the Northeast to lose population in 2010 census.
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 1:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Okay, but that doesn't make Baltimore part of the Rust Belt, which is, in current parlance, equated with the Great Lakes and a few Midwestern outliers like Cincinnati and St. Louis. The Rust Belt is geographical, not qualitative.
Historically the "Rust Belt" ran along the northeastern stretch of the nation from Boston to Kansas City and from Louisville to Milwaukee. While many cities in the traditional Rust Belt have since shed that image, there are plenty that still hold to that title. Baltimore may be further along than some of the other cities in shedding that image, thanks largely to Washington, but it is still a member of the Rust Belt, and has all the hallmarks of a Rust Belt city.

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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Baltimore has problems with crime, and population loss has occurred. But you can say the exact same thing about New York, Boston, Newark, or DC. The fact that Philly and Baltimore don't have the robust economies of some of their seaboard peers don't make them Rust Belt.
New York doesn't have a crime problem and it has been gaining population for decades. The same is true of Boston. Washington and Philadelphia have both turned the corner and are gaining population and seeing reductions in crime. Baltimore on the other hand is still near the top of the nation in crime and continues to lose population in the central city. The fact that Baltimore happens to be tucked in with the Northeast titans doesn't make it not Rust Belt.
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 2:29 AM
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Rustbelt to me means cities with a predominantly industry-based economy. Detroit owns this title, followed closely by Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, etc. Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and to a lesser extent, Cincinnati, share a number of Rustbelt qualities. It's a mega region of mega-cool cities. Saint Louis, of course, being the coolest.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 2:44 AM
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I like this much better
 
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I hear the weather and outdoor activities are fantastic there, as well as the scenery!
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  #13  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 3:22 AM
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I hear the weather and outdoor activities are fantastic there, as well as the scenery!
You heard correctly!
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 8:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
The Rust Belt is geographical, not qualitative.
Eh, they're inextricably linked, no? Geography, in part, determined which cities would come to rely on manufacturing for economic growth, and the extent to which cities relied on manufacturing for economic growth determined which would suffer most heavily during deindustrialization (and thus come to be labeled "Rust Belt"). I'm not sure how diversified the local economies of Boston and New York were when manufacturing jobs started to disappear, but I do know a slew of cities between them (Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Providence) were as dependent on those jobs for economic growth as their more insular counterparts (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Youngstown, etc.)-- and faced the same kinds of setbacks when they dried up. How could these places be classified as anything other than Rust Belt?
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 10:08 AM
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Well, it's a core debate in geography (environmental determinism).

My view may be skewed, because I have the most experience with two cities that are huge anomalies relative to their regions; Chicago is indisputably head and shoulders over the rest of the Midwest/Great Lakes, and New Orleans has been left out of the Sun Belt's massive growth despite a 150-year head start.

In Chicago's case, the strong business climate and extensive physical infrastructure helped its economy grow even despite the broader Rust Belt trend of declining manufacturing and often inconsistent/corrupt/incompetent governance. In New Orleans' case, the physical location has proved to be an utterly awful base to build a diversified economy, since bulk shipping doesn't employ a vast number of people/doesn't pay them good wages, the below-sea-level location requires constant investment in levees and drainage systems, and poor soil quality makes it expensive to build here. The social factors aren't great, either, but at least they're now improving, unlike the geographic factors which are predetermined.

I see a city like Baltimore as another anomaly in its region, but that doesn't make it Rust Belt, because it's east of the Appalachians. There are undoubtedly some very depressed parts of the Northeast - I've been to places like New Bedford and Trenton.
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Last edited by ardecila; Feb 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 2:36 PM
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Neither do the other rust belt cities...
Baltimore doesn't have the level of blight that is seen in Detroit. Baltimore is a major port and still has a decent level of industrialization. It still draws plenty of visitors into the Inner Harbor Area on any given day during the warmer months. The Harbor East area is virtually all brand new and was builton what used to be a crappy area.

So I would say Baltimore is further along in rebounding than many of it's Rust Belt brethern to the west.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 2:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
I see a city like Baltimore as another anomaly in its region, but that doesn't make it Rust Belt, because it's east of the Appalachians. There are undoubtedly some very depressed parts of the Northeast - I've been to places like New Bedford and Trenton.
How is it an anomaly in the region if cities in northern New Jersey and lower New England have fared just as badly? If their problems and the magnitude and origin of those problems are the same as the cities of the Great Lakes, why would they be classified differently, especially if they were part of the same industrial corridor to begin with?
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 3:02 PM
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Maybe because they're close to NYC, which is also close to the Rust Belt. It's also been suggested that Newark, NJ was as depressed as Detroit in some regard but was able to fare better in making a comeback because of it's location.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 3:34 PM
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If we were having this discussion in the 70's and 80's, then New York would be right alongside Detroit. People often forget just how shitty New York was in the 70's and 80's. And the same goes for just about every major city (and plenty of minor cities) in the Northeast. The Rust Belt moniker was never exclusively applied to the Great Lakes cities. The difference is that many of the Northeastern cities were able to shed that image through the 90's and 00's. Baltimore is still lumped in with the rest of the Rust Belt because it still has ALL of the problems of those cities.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 6:14 PM
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Baltimore is not a rust belt city. If Baltimore is rust-belt than so is DC east of the Anacostia River. Maybe Norfolk and Richmond are as well. They have bombed out areas and saw massive decline. Baltimore's issues have more to do with crack, crime, poor management and services, issues that plague predominantly Black cities than with manufacturing jobs going away. Most importantly, people in Baltimore don't see their city as being a part of the rust-belt. It's not b/c of denial, it's b/c it just isn't and outsiders love to apply labels. And Baltimore losing people doesn't mean much, until a few years ago, DC was losing people as well. Baltimore's not hemorrhaging people and has followed a path, in part due to its geography to DC, that separates it from true rust belt cities. You can't just relegate all the military and gov't jobs in close proximity to Baltimore to a mere mention. Driving through Baltimore on I-95 is not enough, neither is watching The Wire. It has been a relatively white-collar city for some time now.
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