The following post is a variation of a post written for rustwire.com, which was published earlier this week.
I’ve had the distinct privilege and honor of visiting the great cities of Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Manchester, England over the past four years. All three of these industrial revolution-era urban centers can provide America’s Rust Belt with valuable insights about overcoming past malaise and degradation to chart a new economic paradigm.
Once known as “Cottonopolis,” Manchester was the world’s pre-eminent manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. Today, the city is more often known as “Madchester” for its cutting edge music scene. Glasgow and Dublin have also seen their stock rise as each city’s economic fortunes have improved over the past couple of decades.
Here are ten lessons I have learned from visiting them and observing what makes all three of them such vibrant cities in the 21st century:
- Cities can be reborn again and again, as long as they are not abandoned.
- Discarding and demolishing a city’s physical history or its cultural legacy leave little from which to build a strong foundation for the future.
- Plan and design every project with pedestrians, cyclists, and transit in mind.
- Mixed uses are a great catalyst for rejuvenation, especially when residential uses are a part of the equation.
- Density is imperative, provided it remains at a human scale.
- Focus precious transportation resources on public transit, particularly modes such as commuter rail and light rail.
- Government participation is critical – the private and non-profit sectors have a role, but they cannot do it all.
- Art and cultural vibe – both traditional and trendsetting – are tremendously important.
- Remain open to bold and possibly contentious new ideas, designs, and/or methods for accomplishing goals.
- Accentuate the positive, but be sure to also address the negative.