Monday, July 03, 2006

Is your city a Walking Detroit?

Outside of the ten largest cities, the Creative Class cities and the "new" sunbelt cities (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Ft. Myers, etc.), US cities may be little other than "Walking Detroits," cities whose populations and economies are in ever greater stages of languishment. Pennsylvania and upstate New York is a living museum of Walking Detroits: Scranton, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Syracuse, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Binghamton, etc. There is a palpable sense of the decaying physcial infrastructure being too big for the inhabiting population and that the heyday is long and irreparably gone. Paul Graham and Richard Florida have the best turnaround suggestions.

The interesting point is that these cities were the vibrant centers of the country a hundred years ago. In one hundred years, where will the vibrant centers of the nation or region or world be? It is easy to see where they are now but it is unlikely that they will be static for the next hundred years. What could trigger the decline of today's teaming centers?

Civilization was previously much more limited by natural resources, transportation and the more manual aspects of life. The biggest shift in the last hundred years has been that proximity to natural resource extraction locations and transportation matters much less. There is now more emigration and people are propelled to centers of thought innovation (which are synonymous with economic and other opportunities). Jared Diamond notes in Collapse that the key means to a civilization's survival is sustaining natural resources. Perhaps the geographic pendulum will swing back to desired proximity to natural resources (this time water, clean air and naturally grown foodstuffs) as metaverse worlds continue to replace physical world proximity requirements.


LaBlogga said...

Others are noticing the depressed environs of upstate New York as AMD is receiving beaucoup tax breaks for its planned Malta, NY $3.2 billion semiconductor plant announced June 24, 2006; unfortunately way too little too late and swimming against the current.