Working Paper, Institute of Urban and Regional Development 2008,08
Like other old blue collar cities of the Northeast and Midwest, New York City and its surrounding metropolitan area have faced some serious headwinds from deindustrialization, disinvestment, racial succession, white flight, social and cultural conflict, and many other adverse force. Like many other old industrial cities, New York went through a turbulent period of economic and social decline from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. In New York City's case, this involved a public sector fiscal crisis and high levels of residential property abandonment and arson as well as a more generalized decline of population and employment. Yet unlike the many other once-proud cities that have had to adjust to a lesser status over time, New York has rebounded markedly from its low point in the mid-1970s. Today, it is hard to believe that broad swaths of the New York City terrain had essentially no market value only thirty years ago. Instead, luxury loft buildings are rising next to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and a high priced luxury hotel has been built next to the Gowanus Canal, erstwhile scene of dead bodies and raw sewage overflows during heavy rains. What accounts for this dramatic turn-around? How and why did New York City prove to be so resilient, when its 19 century rivals along the East Coast, Philadelphia and th Baltimore, have continued to lose population steadily, as have Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Louis, and even Chicago? This paper considers some provisional answers to that question.