A class this term at Portland State involves a reading and conference on ‘Shrinking Cities’. Led by professor Ellen Bassett, a group of a dozen students from PhD and Masters in Urban Studies and Urban and Regional Planning reading and discussing four diverse texts, along with a range of other writings on the subject.
Our first book is “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit” by Thomas Segrue. Originally published in 1996, this book has won a number of awards for history, and continues to provide an overview of the connections between racial and economic inequality as played out in the post-WWII urban landscape of Detroit.
Other books include Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City by Colin Gordon, Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City by Howard Gillette, Jr. and Small, Gritty and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World by Catherine Tumber.
This is By no means a comprehensive overview of the subject, but the aim of the group is to discuss the social, economic, political, and spatial phenomena at work in a number of US Shrinking Cities, to better understand this issue. Stay tuned for some thoughts over coming weeks, and if you have suggested readings to include, that would be very welcome.