Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival

Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival

Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival

Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival

Synopsis

Comeback Cities shows how innovative, pragmatic tactics for ameliorating the nation's urban ills have produced results beyond anyone's expectations, reawakening America's toughest neighborhoods. In the past, big government and business working separately were unable to solve the inner city crisis. Rather, a blend of public-private partnerships, grassroots nonprofit organizations, and a willingness to experiment characterize what is best among the new approaches to urban problem solving. Pragmatism, not dogma, has produced the charter school movement and the police's new focus on "quality-of-life" issues. The new breed of big city mayors has welcomed business back into the city, stressed performance and results at city agencies, downplayed divisive racial politics, and cracked down on symptoms of social disorder. As a consequence, America's inner cities are becoming vital communities once again. There is much yet to be done, but Grogan and Proscio base their optimism on a number of trends that could dramatically multiply the impact of the grassroots community development industry. The authors point to unprecedented access to capital and credit, astonishing reductions in violent crime, and substantial overhauls of public housing, welfare, and public schools already underway as harbingers of an inner-city revival. Through a mixture of analysis and storytelling, Grogan and Proscio argue convincingly that the conditions are ripe - the infrastructure is in place - to turn a source of national shame into a source of national pride.

Excerpt

The American inner city is rebounding--not just here and there, not just cosmetically, but fundamentally. It is the result of a fragile but palpable change in both the economics and the politics of poor urban neighborhoods. Though not yet visible everywhere, the shift is discernible in enough places to unsettle longstanding assumptions about the future of older urban communities. This book tells why that is happening, and where, and what can be done about it-- either to accelerate the turnaround or, through carelessness or worse, to stop it dead in its tracks.

Admittedly, the argument is neither easy to make nor incontrovertible. Most of the available statistics, in fact, argue against it. Volumes of data, and the many books and articles based on them, paint a persuasive picture of unrelieved and deepening misery: concentrated poverty and pathology, racial isolation, a widening gap between suburban haves and urban have-nots.

That bleak picture is not wrong but misleading. It takes a fair measure of the intense residue of forty years of urban decline, but it sees no bend in the path we are on, namely, toward more of the same. In the toughest urban neighborhoods, despair has an almost automatically intuitive appeal: At least in our lifetimes, major cities have gone mostly downhill, burdened by industrial obsolescence, physical rot, riots, crime, poverty, and the serial failure of big federal rescue missions. The losses have been so great for so long--and so carefully chronicled . . .

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