9 May 2011 |
Is there hope for the small American city? In Buffalo, says NY Times writer Thomas Kaplan, there is a plan for a massive expansion of SUNY Buffalo meant to leverage the University’s economic role. “Skeptics see the plan as a fantasy,” says Kaplan, yet another dream of urban renewal that inevitably will fail to produce results. Economic deconcentration is just too much. And the notion that educational and medical institutions alone—and without other synergistic industries—can save a city is a misreading of the evidence. Even in Philadelphia, with a diverse, vibrant regional economy and a handful of major eds and meds investing in the urban landscape, the most difficult questions of poverty and injustice persist. But Buffalo, once the 8th largest in the US (and now # 70), isn’t alone. While the oldest and largest east coast cities have at least survived a half century of relentless suburbanization, what is Buffalo or Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Trenton or any number of rust belt cities to do? We’ve been talking about this so long, the rust has burned a hole in our collective imagination.
Thumbnail photograph by Kevin Bauman
Sattler Theater photo unattributed