Reviving Dying Towns

In recent months, I've been talking with a few academic types about how some of the older industrial towns in the Northeast are starting to ...
by | August 2, 2006
 

Easton_1 In recent months, I've been talking with a few academic types about how some of the older industrial towns in the Northeast are starting to regain some life as suburbs to larger cities. Having been central cities, they have some of the amenities that downtown-dwellers like -- theaters and the like -- but they offer lower prices a la suburbs.

MIT's Lorlene Hoyt, for example, is working with Lawrence, Massachusetts, on some of its revitalization efforts. And the folks at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program are all over this idea. Their big report on nine older metro areas in Pennsylvania is here.

It was interesting, in this context, to hear an interview on NPR the other day with Bathsheba Monk, who has written a book of short stories set in the Pennsylvania coal country. She raises this issue of revitalization and change on her home turf:

"All of these towns, I guess they're like - Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, they're like towns all over America now who are trying - they're trying to decide what they want to be now that they're no longer industrial centers. I'd say this area, the Lehigh Valley, has a better chance of becoming something just because it's so close to New York and Philadelphia, and one of the things it's trying to become is a bedroom community for New York and Philadelphia, and the other thing it's becoming is a gambling casinos - that's on the block next. That's what we're going to become, a gambling center."

Photo of Easton, PA, via Flickr, from Peter Elk.

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