Small Cities USA: Growth, Diversity, and Inequality

Small Cities USA: Growth, Diversity, and Inequality

Small Cities USA: Growth, Diversity, and Inequality

Small Cities USA: Growth, Diversity, and Inequality

Synopsis

While journalists document the decline of small-town America and scholars describe the ascent of such global cities as New York and Los Angeles, the fates of little cities remain a mystery. What about places like Providence, Rhode Island; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Laredo, Texas; and Salinas, California--the smaller cities that constitute much of America's urban landscape? In Small Cities USA, Jon R. Norman examines how such places have fared in the wake of the large-scale economic, demographic, and social changes that occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century.

Drawing on an assessment of eighty small cities between 1970 and 2000, Norman considers the factors that have altered the physical, social, and economic landscapes of such places. These cities are examined in relation to new patterns of immigration, shifts in the global economy, and changing residential preferences. Small Cities USA presents the first large-scale comparison of smaller cities over time in the United States, showing that small cities that have prospered over time have done so because of diverse populations and economies. These "glocal" cities, as Norman calls them, are doing well without necessarily growing into large metropolises.

Excerpt

On a busy street, the sounds of Hmong and Spanish fill the air as people wander about. People talk about attending a professional football game, going to see a touring Broadway musical, visiting the local Native American heritage museum, or driving north to watch the leaves change color. Head east to New England, a freshly revitalized downtown features an expansive riverwalk where one can view fire sculptures on the water that burst into life on summer nights. There, amid ivy-covered colleges, brick warehouses being converted into lofts, and thriving neighborhoods with residents from around the world—from the Azores to Zimbabwe—city streets teem with life. Far to the south, along the border with Mexico, the largest import-export center between the two countries offers a different vision of urban life. Spanish and English commingle on the streets as people literally walk back and forth between the two countries on their way to work. Finally, on the West Coast, an area steeped in both agriculture and literary tradition attracts tourists as well as agribusiness professionals. The city—the heart of the “Salad Bowl of the World”—offers close proximity to the beach and exclusive, high-end communities populated by people fleeing the hustle and bustle of the nearby San Francisco Bay Area.

Where are all these places? They easily sound as though they could be major metropolitan areas in the United States, and in some ways they are. However, each city described above—Green Bay, Wisconsin; Providence, Rhode Island; Laredo, Texas; and Salinas, California, respectively—is small by most people’s standards. Each city contains between roughly 100,000 . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.