ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside September 2011

Brains over Buildings

To rejuvenate urban centers, look to teachers and entrepreneurs



Illustration by Oliver Munday

Detroit once had 1.85 million inhabitants. Now it has fewer than 740,000. Cleveland and St. Louis, too, are half the size they were in 1950. Across the Atlantic, Liverpool and Leipzig are also dramatically smaller. When so many cities are booming, why are some trapped in decline?

Cities naturally rise and fall as technologies change. Detroit and the other cities of the Great Lakes established themselves as agricultural transport hubs before the Civil War. Afterward, they enjoyed a second growth spurt when American industry settled along waterways for easy access to raw materials such as iron ore. But their geographical advantages eroded over the course of the 20th century as the real cost of moving a ton a mile by rail dropped by more than 90 percent. Manufacturers relocated to lower-wage areas such as the South.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X