Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Deindustrialization and Urban Blight
Deindustrialization and Urban Blight: The net loss of industrial output in most cities is the primary effect of deindustrialization. As a structural process, it particularly affects cities where manufacturing constitutes the largest component of the urban economy. With the decline of the automobile industry in Detroit, Michigan, the city has become a poster child for deindustrialization. At the same time, the steel industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has largely evaporated, and thus, the area between the two cities is known as the Rust Belt. But is deindustrialization an entirely negative aspect of urban life in this region? Sure, it creates urban blight in the form of abandoned warehouses, factories, and houses. And it even highlights the racial tensions that stem from 'white flight' and labor segmentation. Yet deindustrialization also leads to economic opportunities in the form of deflated real estate prices. Developers are therefore able to engage in the urban renewal process more easily by purchasing and renovating unused or foreclosed buildings. In short, the deindustrialization narrative in urban history will continue to serve as a key framework for examining any city's basic socio-economic structures.