Scranton's Last Laugh?

Scranton, Pennsylvania, is one of those much-maligned towns that's attained almost a mythical status as a rough, hardscrabble, blue-collar place nobody wants to live. It's ...
by | October 23, 2008

Scranton Scranton, Pennsylvania, is one of those much-maligned towns that's attained almost a mythical status as a rough, hardscrabble, blue-collar place nobody wants to live.

It's portrayed as a dreary, dead-end locale on "The Office."

And earlier this month, an SNL sketch about the VP debate poked fun at Joe Biden's frequent put-downs of his hometown: "Don't be telling me that I'm part of the Washington elite, because I come from the absolute worst place on Earth: Scranton, Pennsylvania," said the actor playing Biden. "It's a hellhole! It is just an awful, awful sad place filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition!"

But the truth is that Scranton is actually on the upswing. From the Wall Street Journal :

The population here is growing for the first time in 60 years, following a decades-long exodus that halved the city to barely 70,000 people. Its architecturally distinctive downtown, long vacant, is undergoing a dramatic renovation. And tourism is spiking, thanks in no small part to "The Office"....

There's a distinctly white-collar movement behind Scranton's comeback. A return of college-educated natives from cities like New York and Philadelphia is fueling a population rise and a civic makeover. Bringing them back are the very small-town qualities many once wanted to escape: the likelihood of meeting acquaintances and relatives on the streets. The embrace here of modest ambition. The deeply held belief -- only heightened by ridicule from the outside world -- that Scranton matters.

The WSJ article goes on to say that Scranton may be on its way to becoming the new Peoria -- a symbol of Middle America.

Michael Scott would be proud...

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