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Comments on Weeks 1&2 Readings-2017


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  1. Steven High, “Gold Doesn’t Rust: Regions of the North American Mind” in Industrial Sunset.

    Before being called the rust belt, the area that stretched from Chicago and Milwaukee in the west to Buffalo and Pittsburg in the east, had gone through many names. Before their collapse it was known as the Heartland and the Mid-West. The south then developed the name The Sun Belt. This caused in turn the north to establish the names the Frostbelt or Snowbelt. These names though, did not really match the problems occurring and eventually the term the rustbowl was coined. It reminded the people of the not too long ago dustbowl, that caused mayhem, which was what was now happening to them. Though the term Rustbowl worked for its ability to bring out the horror from which they were reminded of, the term did not stick. The term needed was one to demonstrate the spread apart cities decaying from factories shutting down. The term that finally stuck was the rustbelt. Though it took a while for a term that truly fit to be acquired and accepted, the damage has been occurring. While people were finding a term, people were losing there homes and factories were rotting back into the earth. One steel mill worker compared the destructions that the steel mill companies did to the steel mills, what hitler failed to do.

    John Gallagher, “Shrinking Cities,” in Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City.

    The term shrinking cities does not initially give a positive demeanor. However, after reading this article, the term shrinking cities sounds more like an opportunity rather than a place of collapse and empty blocks. I found it interesting to look at the city with new light. Rather than stick with the old plan of just build houses and hope it works, mayors and the people have decided to try something new. Try something in a city that would not be possible if it did not shrink. They are trying to move people into districts of the city that is economically viable and try urban farming and remaking the lots of empty houses into something better. It definitely gives a new hope to cities that’s have had their golden era long since pass and are now trying to just get by.

  2. The rust belt is an area of the U.S. stretching from the great lakes into new england that was once the industrial powerhouse of America but is now marked by cities plagued with a decrease in population and economic activity. Many cities in the rust belt are what are known as shrinking cities, where there is a marked decline in urban population, with a notable example being Detroit, which has lost thousands of automotive jobs. Many of the hardest hit cities are what are known as gateway cities, places where people once came in droves to the U.S. such as the fishing port of New Bedford.

    I found the article on Youngstown’s reinvention to be particularly insightful. The mayor of the city, Jay Williams, has influenced the city to realize that things will not go back to the way they were and that Youngstown should embrace what it can become. Taking advantage of a declining population density and federal programs to both assist residents personally and improve the city as a whole seems like a great way to foster growth.

  3. In the article, “Gold Doesn’t Rust”, It focuses of historic declining cities that have been abandoned due to Great Depression. The cities were now referred to as “Dust Bowl”, such as the area of southwestern United States which has been devastated by drought and depression. Nowadays, while new cities were booming and the old ones wither. A clear example would be the city of Detroit, which is known to be one of the the 20 great cities of United State, fallen through a major economic crisis and demographic decline in recent decades. As cities fell apart, some of the historical landmarks within them were either demolished or yet to be forgotten.

    In contrast to “Shrinking Cities”, the author notes that there is still a chance to recover the city that has been in ruins. It is the author’s intentions to remind the readers that the shrinking cities still have a lot to offer, thus, letting the new generations see the positive view on the conditions of old and grand architecture. I am glad to know how the author feels about his views towards old architecture and how we wishes to preserve their historical background.

  4. In Shrinking Cities, Gallagher starts off by describing how America views urban success in terms of population growth and a successful economy. A decline in population in specific areas is not always a bad thing, and there is typically an economic, political, or natural reasoning behind it, such as low birth rates or natural disasters. As a country who hasn’t experienced as much “shrinkage” throughout cities (in contrast to various European countries), we aren’t acclimated to such change, nor do we tend to see the possibility of a lower population as positive.

    Later in the reading, Gallagher mentions various ways in which a smaller city can be “better”; typically homes are more affordable, commute times are less, and it’s a smaller, healthier atmosphere to raise families in. Bigger cities tend to have higher taxes, more expensive housing, crime, pollution, etc. But one major factor we shouldn’t dismiss is that larger cities tend to offer a much different lifestyle in regards to culture, as well as economic opportunities. After reading this excerpt from Shrinking Cities, I now see that the success of a city isn’t based solely on population growth, but what the city has to offer to its citizens.

  5. From “Gold Doesn’t Rust,” the rust belt was an area of the United States that ran from ports of New England all the way to California. It is a set of cities that were once booming industrial factories and production centers to now decapitated buildings and centers that are falling into ruin. Lots of these cities were used to having at least one mega corporation in them to provide the town with factory worker jobs and income. One of the main examples was captured and retold by Michael Moore about what happened when the GM company left Flint, Michigan. What was once seen as an opportunity to new immigrants and prosperous hubs are now abandoned and ruined areas.

    Learned about in “Shrinking Cities,” the amount of people in cities that were caught in the rust belt is declining year after year. People are fleeing to better areas of the country such as Houston, Texas. While more and more people leave, the cities they were once apart of fall more and more into destruction.

  6. “Shrinking city’s” at first sounds like a bad thing to happen, but in other hands it means both good and bad. This is because yes the city’s and towns are getting smaller after the industry’s that were there ended or moved over seas, which this causes these areas to depopulate and hence the name shrinking city, there is no use anymore for these factories. That is why city’s start small and get bigger now. That is the bad part of it waste of land but that now this gives room for opportunity, to re use these empty lands just like in the reading. Transform the land as farm land and so forth and start to make self sustainable society’s from places that were useless before. So in all end they are reversing the way we started these communicates in the first place. Take these big lands and do something to repopulate a grow to fill the area once again.

    “Gold don’t rust” the rust belt is the major talk and that is because this is all about areas that where affected by the great depression, all these factory’s stopped operation. and these where locations marked with the shrinking city tag. came clear that small towns are where people need to be to make it threw the tough times and then come back once everything was over.

  7. The Rust Belt consisted of states located in Midwestern US and stretched to states in Northeastern US. These group of states have gone through a few different name changes. These states were once known as powerhouse states that had large numbers of population to operate and run major factories in the state, an example of this is the state of Michigan and its large automotive factories that produced thousands of jobs. Unfortunately, these large factories started closing. This led to workers without jobs and because of the factories closing the workers had to relocate so they could find new jobs to support their families. Majority of these states lost large amounts of their population in their cities due to the closing of these factories. This decline of population in these cities are known as Shrinking Cities. These cities were once known as Gateway Cities because they once were bringing jobs and profit to their state. An example of this are all the textile mill buildings that are in Fall River that once gave thousands of people jobs and made the city known. These large factories that once produced many jobs are now abandoned and left aging. The falling population and aging factories are part of the reason why these group of states were called and known as the Rust Belt.

  8. In Gallagher’s Shrinking Cities, I found it interesting how he points out population shrinkage is not only due to economic decline, but natural disasters. I had never really considered the effect Hurricane Katrina could have on New Orleans. According to Gallagher, New Orleans saw about half of its population relocate. Gallagher demonstrates how non-industrial cities outside of the “Rust Belt” can suffer from population decline as well.

  9. One of the aspects I found to be interesting about “Gold Doesn’t Rust” was how Steven High seemed to be pointing out how media, writers, discourse, poets, photographers, film makers, and artists can have a powerful influence on the public. How people perceive events that are taking place in their communities or in their countries are influenced by the media and artists. The media, artists, and activists have the ability to get messages across to the public and how they decide to do so will influence the public to react in certain ways. Images, media, and oral tradition can have an impact on how individuals handle, describe, and reference situations. With time situations can take on new symbolism because of changes in discourse. Additionally, stigmas can form because of definitions given to regions by authority figures. It is important for those who are communicating with the public to be aware of how the culture and history of a community will affect the response of the public. Canadian and American media used different terms to explain what was happening to certain regions. This caused the people of both places to react differently. From my point of view, this article was trying to express the importance of communication.

    I really enjoyed how “Shrinking Cities” articulated how cities do not have to be what they once were. Instead of trying to build shrinking cities back to what they once were it may be better to let them become something else. If a city is smaller then there is more room for food. This can help build community between the people who live in those cities. It is important for communities to form strong bonds in order to help face climate change. Therefore, smaller cities may be in better position to find solutions and smaller cities can be studied. Cities that are shrinking still have potential and room for growth, just not in the way many would expect. Also, the shrinking of cities is a natural occurrence that the US does not find easy to view as natural unlike Europeans. Population changes and instead of acting like it will be the end of a city, it is best to find new ways to make the now smaller cities flourish.

    • Similar to “Shrinking Cities”, MassINC has an optimistic approach to cities. MassINC talks about how Gateway Cities have potential because of their assets like museums, workers, and universities. Gateway Cities have a future and are important to Massachusetts. Of the Gateway Cities listed on the website, I have either heard of them or have actually visited them. When you go to many of the cities mentioned you can see the growth and change that is taking place, but you can also see that they are not done growing. From personal experience with some Gateway Cities, I can see the potential in them.

      • Great points about Gallagher’s chapter. In class we will try to discuss the article further by answering these questions:
        What do people do when the city is empty of its population? What have people in Detroit done?
        Is there hope for a shrinking city? Do you agree that “getting smaller opens up the possibility for something new to take place? What is the difference between “planned emptiness” and gradual/unplanned emptiness?

  10. Gold Doesn’t Rust, discusses the rust belt that stretching across the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These states had a profitable industrial businesses that dramatically declined. However, this did not reach Canada, the industrial industry continued to do well leading to the name of the golden horseshoe. The rust bowl was named similar to the dust bowl during the Great Depression. Connected to rusting machinery and abandoned factories. Urbanization and reassessment of the industrial caused plant shutdowns. Many industrial cities fell victim to post-industrialism. With the plants shutting down many workers were unable to find work continuing the economic decline of the cities. Due to these changes the population decreased as well. Also leading to the phenomenon of shrinking cities discussed by Gallagher. Although economic crisis is one of the main reasons for this it is not the only one. Although now we look at smaller cities as a benefit Gallagher discusses how the stereotypically benefits possibly not true as due to urbanization. lower crime rates, quicker commutes, and more affordable living can be a way to gain. For cities that have a loss in population using the available space to their advantage is key to getting people to join that community. These cities can recover it just depends on when.

  11. Growing up in the small town of Westport, perfectly positioned between New Bedford and Fall River, I have grown accustomed to the sites of abandoned and decaying factories. As I’ve aged, I have enjoyed seeing the dilapidated mills come back to life as lofts and offices. Because of this I was able to relate to Steven High’s “Gold Doesn’t Rust” about the fall of the steel and auto industry in Michigan. Prior to reading this I had limited knowledge of what the Rust Belt was but I was aware of the automobile factory decline in Detroit. High addresses how the economic decline, as well as the decline in population due to the increased unemployment rate in the major cities, has been represented by the media. He uses the Dust Bowl as an example to conjure up past images of American downfall and the medias negative response to it. In contrast, High analyzes Canada’s Golden Horseshoe as a way to compare the differences in media reactions, using Ontario’s circumstance as an opportunity to make a change and overcome rather than succumb to the failing economy. Canada’s industrial city, Ontario, was “not considered a great place to live” but the “incredible beauty of the steel mills, all the more beautiful because it wasn’t intended to be and is not widely considered to be.” American cities, like Detroit, were left abandoned and, tough not seen as such then, are now an opportunity for us to revive the vacant factories and repurpose the city to get it back on its feet.

    In “Reimagining Detroit” John Gallagher offered a sense of hope to the deteriorating industrial factory cities in America. He proposes the argument that bigger is not necessarily always better when it comes to cities and how Detroit, in particular, is a good chance to prove it. There has been a common theme among these two readings – Americans have a negative outlook on population loss. European cities in the past have had a more relaxed outlook and seen it as something as natural as “breathing.” American cities are continuously missing the fact that there is room for recovery and regrowth. Gallagher brought forward the city of Turin, Italy as an example of a city who has underwent multiple comebacks and revivals. As stated by Turin’s mayor, Dr. Valentino Castellani, “A crisis can be an extraordinary opportunity for change and innovation.” The city used its history, proximity to the Alps and rebranding skills (“Passion Lives Here”) to literally and figuratively build the city back from the ground up, describing the city as having a “new identity.” I also think it is important to note that in the town of Youngstown, Jay Williams “carefully avoids the adjective ‘better’” afraid that its loaded value judgements may give the wrong impression. These efforts are typically ignored or not made in American cities but it is important to stress that a cities finest time does not have to be it’s biggest in terms of population.

  12. Reading the two articles, “Gold Doesn’t Rust” and “Shrinking Cities” made me reflect on the city I grow up from. I don’t want to mention the city where I’m from but all I can say I from a city that is outside from Boston. The article “Gold Doesn’t Rust” I don’t think my city can relate now in the 2000s or 2010s but maybe before then yes because late 90s or early 2000s I would see factories that had shutdown many years ago and looked untouched fallen apart including house. Which gave the city a bad name. Houses were cheap and nobody wanted to live there. Which lead to shrinkage because I started to notice schools stared to shutdown. That started to change when they started to knowing down old building, houses, cleaned up the city and made it more modern. Fast forward to 2010s. resident numbers have increased and it is the hot spot to live.

    Outside my city I’ve seen cities or states that are facing the Rust Belt. Cities in Pennsylvania, New Bedford, Fall River, Lowell, Lawrence and Worcester. You see factories and Mills that haven’t been touched since they shut down. Has impact these cities cause that were the riches cities from the industrial companies and it has put an impact on these cities economy. Back then these cities were the gateway or opportunity for the people.

  13. By Falmarie: These articles were very informational for those who aren’t familiar with these terms and their origin. Cities all over the United States have been dealing with these issues of unemployment due to lack of jobs, from the closing of the auto industry and textile mill to suburban sprawl and shrinking cities along with the gateway cities across the U.S. With all the open/unused spaces in these cities that are spoken of why not try to take ideas from the people of the community itself to see what they would like to possibly see in these spaces rather than dilapitated buildings and open unkempt fields of shrubbery? I truly believe if the politicians of the rust belt, shrinking cities, and gateway cities took to the people they would find that maybe things can get better. Its not just the governmental policies that make a great and beautiful city, it is also the members of that community and those are honestly the people that matter. If you want to start to make a city that has fallen apart and bring it to life you need to involve the citizens of the city and not just the politics.

  14. John Gallagher, “ Shrinking Cities” in Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City

    As I began reading “Shrinking Cities”, I wasn’t able to immediately grasp the definition of shrinking cities from the context until later on in the text. At first, I assumed it was some horrible thing that cities would go through, just by the title itself. Googling the actually definition made some sense, but as the text goes on the author indicates, “.. from their perspective shrinkage sums from a witch’s brew of American Industrial decline, white flight and suburban sprawl”, this was the author depiction of how habitants of Detroit/Buffalo saw shrinkage. He also mentions the term he prefers for shrinkage—spreading out. Later, he goes on to explain that smaller can mean better. Not many take into account the “trade off” of cultural life and economic opportunities that aren’t available in smaller towns though. What I, myself took away was that, “A city getting smaller emerges from the agonies of shrinkage with the opportunity to become something new in a way that wasn’t possible before.” from the author. He makes valid points from, new approaches and ideas can be tested on more manageable scale with quicker results and the ability to reshape the urban fabric, and “..smaller city creates the canvas to become a better city” as he puts it. Overall, the text shines light to how to improve upon these cities rather than look down upon what is left.

    Steven High, “Gold Doesn’t Rust: Regions of the North American Mind” in Industrial Sunset

    Per google definition: The Rust Belt is the region of the United States from the Great Lakes to the upper Midwest States. Rust refers to the deindustrialization, or economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinkage of it once-powerful industrial sector. This was stated throughout the text from the beginning and is what the text solely focus’ on and comes back to. It specifically goes in depth about what consisted of the Rust Belt, how they had been affected (the great depression, decline of industrial factory operations, etc). The author tends to use media heavily when referring/exploring the Rust Belt.

  15. I hail from Fall River, a gateway city in Mass. The stories of the once bustling cities in America and Italy serve as sad reminders of how great the city once was, something I never saw, but also serve as beacons of hope, a reminder that all is not lost for my city and that we can revitalize ourselves. How those cities reinvented themselves is how I have long hoped Fall River would: green spaces and ways, artistic spaces and murals, cultural and artistic celebrations. We have such a rich history as the richest city in America, of a new start for immigrants. We have such a rich Portuguese culture and I believe it should be celebrated at every inch of the city.
    Reading about the Golden Horseshoe and how the mindsets differed between Canada and America also makes me hopeful for my city. Often people criticize Fall River, even the residents themselves partake, they see no future for the city, they see it as though like the factories, the city’s future has closed. I don’t think that is true.
    I found it interesting with the reports on MA and its gateway cities that the view on education was very similar. I wonder how true that is. Durfee, the high school in Fall River, is falling apart: water leaks through the roof and we can barely keep teachers for more than 2 years. I think it is fair to say our schools do not necessarily prepare our students for life and higher education, I wonder why people from across the state feel similarly about their own schools?

  16. After going through and interpreting the different aspects of each section of the readings; Steven High, “Gold Doesn’t Rust: Regions of the North American Mind” in Industrial Sunset & John Gallagher, “Shrinking Cities,” in Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City. I would describe a post-industrial city as an area that has experienced a negative impact in its economic growth creating a loss in jobs and eventually leading to population size depletion. Now when talking about post-industrial cities in current day, we usually think of the city of Detroit, Michigan’s capital, which due to the mass abandonment of the car industry has left the city quiet bare. However, what isn’t as well realized is that the infamous Rust Belt, spreading from parts of New York to Illinois is still struggling to reach a healthy standing point even after decades of recovery.
    What I have realized from both texts is that even though population loss is seen as a measurement of a city or town’s economic stability and overall positive persona, what I’ve come to learn is that fluctuation to a population within a specific area is a natural. With the growth of our population size as a whole, as well as the ease of travel and the innovations of technology all this can cause shifts within a population. Movement of people can create a more multicultural and vigorous nation, especially when mass movement out of an area occurs. Smaller communities are usually more interconnected about their community environment, government and so on. The fact of the matter is, we must change the perspective on how to display and address post-industrial cities.
    Ignoring post-industrial problems present in many cities across the nation is not the solution; neither is the view that these are lost cities that have no chance for future success as they once had (which occurred when the mid-west gained the stigma of being the Rust Belt). In order to find and create prosperity in such regions one must start out positive even when unsure, the way a problem is first tackled can create the stepping stone for future endeavors. For example, Turin a city in Italy once known as the gateway to France later became the known as “The Detroit of Italy”. In contrast to current day Detroit, Turin took its high population loss which left many vacant buildings, not as a crisis but as a challenge. Turin used innovation, working together with member of the community the local government has helped turn the city into a popular “…hub for European culture and travel” (Gallagher). The most significant point that can be extracted from the Turin example of revitalizing a post-industrial city is that to survive one must adapt. Gallagher recognizes the importance of this concept as well, he emphasizes that this is not the first time the city of Turin has reinvented itself. Post-industrial cities, as well as struggling rural America can adapt and may need to redefine itself multiple times through but it is possible and it must be done.

  17. “Gold Does’t Rust” opens with the explination of the Michael Moore documentary “Roger and Me” in which the filmaker shows what has become of his hometown Flint, Michigan since the decline of the automobile industry. It is sad to read the economic down fall of many cities once large industries decided to build factories oversees in order to save money on labor costs. These cities have become forgotten along with it’s residents. Workers are displaced and at a loss as to what their future may bring. This has led to many individuals to move leaving behind vacant homes along with the abandoned automobile plants.

    “Shrinking Cities” is a positive outlook on a otherwise negative situation. Gallager explores ways to repurpose the land and buildings that have been abandoned. He suggests that greenways should be built for non-motorized travel, paths for hiking and bike riding. Another suggestion is utilizing the land in oreder to grow food instead of importing all of the food that comes into the city. A self-sustaining means of food supply could be beneficial in the future if a crisis were to occur in the food supply industry. This selection made me think of places like New Bedford that has suffered post-industrialization. Old abandoned factories have been built into affordable living to house many people, along with many other projects to revitalize the city. Other post industrial cities should follow these examples in a effort to revitalize themselves, increase economic growth. and the morale of it’s residents.

  18. Re-Imagining Detroit by John Gallaher
    Shrinking cities has become a post- WWII problem, believed to be a problem centered in the Great Lakes Industrial region, but in reality occurs in cities all across the US. With our relatively short history, we tend to overreact to these trends and don’t look at it quite the same was Europeans do. With the benefit of having a much longer history, European nations believe that cities breathe, and this ebb and flow of population is normal. But even with that being said, why do we fear shrinkage so much?
    Opportunity abounds within the shrinking city. The ability to become and live greener, less commuting time, more space and more flexibility to redefine itself and become whatever it wants. Getting small allows for something new to happen, literally a “canvas to become a better city.” The officials of these towns need to embrace these changes and embrace the opportunity to reinvent their cities, and could learn a lot from Turin, Italy and Youngstown, Ohio.

    The Making of North America’s Rust Belt- Steven High
    Ahh, America’s Rust Belt. The once booming area due to the industrial revolution. Up until the 1980’s- this was America’s heartland. But with economic down turns, and the globalization of manufacturing, factories and plants closed up, and now sit idle, literally rusting before our eyes. The high rates of unemployment forced people to move in search of work, creating population decline and therefore, an economic decline in the entire region. For many, it evoked memories of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.
    Mass media seemed to perpetuated this negative image, and artists, writers, song-writers, film-makers, all contributed to this image of the Rust Belt. This created a stigma in the minds of the American people and worked to actually perpetuate and accelerate the decline of the area. The Golden horseshoe of Canada continued to be viewed by their citizens as a wealthy industrialized area. This demonstrates what power the media has over the minds and opinions of people

  19. Fluctuations of populations are natural over time, but with the increase of centrifugal forces (e.g. lack of job opportunities, natural disasters, lack of access food and supplies, etc.), large populations decline, in order to to meet their needs somewhere else. Cities are no longer able to support their populations due to the economic disparity and have trouble economically as more of the population leave the community over time. Yet in “Shrinking Cities,” John Gallagher conveys a hopeful message, showcasing real examples of cities rising out of negative mentality due to the connotation of the cities flaws, lack of population being one of them, but seeing potential of the “shrinking cities” having the chance to renew their city. The Rust Belt, declining in infrastructure and population due to lack of jobs after the removal of automotive industry in the area until now. Gallagher’s solution for shrinking cities, was to create community gardens and other necessities in order to support the remaining population to lead them on a sustainable path. In my opinion, introducing more sustainable alternatives and renovations to the city would allow the community to grow stronger even with the lack of population. Similar to the Dust Bowl, that occurred in the 1930s, people migrates to places of work, like many other environmental disasters that destroy homes and erase history, as mentioned in “Gold Doesn’t Rust.” On the other hand, cities with large populations, especially urban areas face difficulties to sustain as well. According to MassINC, there are 11 cities in Massachusetts are considered Gateway cities. There mission to improve the quality of life in these cities by.providing job opportunities, accessibility to transportation and continue to create a more greener, safer, and better environment for these cities. Developing on going support and studies these articles shed light on the reality of communities in the United States.

  20. I learned a lot from reading these two articles. It made me realize how much information that I did not know about bad period of times for certain cities across the world. I learned the definitions and the causes of these periods of time such as the dust bowl. However, I enjoyed reading the ” Shrinking Cities” article more. I really like how the author created a sense of flow in the article. I felt like I understood his purpose in the text, which in my eyes, is to prove how shrinking cities could be beneficiary. One thing that the author said that really caught my attention was that “[European cities’] ‘s history showed their cities sort of breathing” (in reference to the shrinking cities trend). I think this is such a great way to look at this since it allows people to think positively about their potential shrinking city by realizing that a decline in population is normal and can potentially mean that the city is improving.

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