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Small Cities USA

Small Cities USA: Growth, Diversity, and Inequality

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Small Cities USA
    Book Description:

    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? InSmall 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 USApresents 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5332-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. 1 Introduction: Small Cities in a Big Nation
    (pp. 1-26)

    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...

  6. 2 The Divergent Fates of Small Cities
    (pp. 27-70)

    As one drives down University Avenue in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one sees history written into the very fabric of the city. The old Fort Howard paper company building changed names several times as the company went from public to private and from being locally owned to being part of an industrial giant, Georgia Pacific Corporation. Although not nearly as much paper pulping employ locals today as in 1970, there are still many high-paying mill jobs in paper production that provide a comfortable standard of living for residents with only a high school degree.

    Heading out along University Avenue toward the...

  7. 3 Putting Out the Welcome Mat: How People Affect Small Cities
    (pp. 71-90)

    Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the few colleges in the United States where students can major in Portuguese. While Brown is known for having a highly varied and particular undergraduate curriculum, Portuguese is a strong department there because of student interest and because Rhode Island is home to a large number of people from Portugal (including the Azores) and Brazil. Indeed, the existence of a doctoral program in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies indicates just how entrenched the Portuguese-speaking community is in Rhode Island and nearby southern Massachusetts.

    Yet Portuguese-speaking countries are only several of a multitude...

  8. 4 Diversify, Donʹt Specialize
    (pp. 91-115)

    Salinas, California, originally was known as the Salad Bowl of the World. Today, as you wander through the small city, you realize that while agriculture is still very important, Salinas and its surroundings are home to much more than large agribusiness enterprises. Although in 2005, 19 percent of the city’s work force was still employed in agriculture and agriculture is still the largest single employment sector, retail, education, health care, and social services together account for about 30 percent of all employment. The Salinas metro area still reflects this heritage; agricultural firms such as Fresh Express, a salad greens wholesaler,...

  9. 5 Balancing It All: Paths of Success or Failure for Small Metro Areas
    (pp. 116-131)

    “As I walked out in the streets of Laredo, as I walked out in Laredo one day, I spied a young cowboy, all wrapped in white linen, wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.” So goes the “Streets of Laredo” (otherwise called “The Cowboy’s Lament”), the song about the small Texas city. Laredo is no longer a cowboy town; today it is a bustling, internationally oriented small city. The port of Laredo is ranked as the fourth busiest in the nation; an estimated $94 billion of trade passes through it each year (López and Phillips 2006). In...

  10. 6 Small Cities Matter!
    (pp. 132-147)

    How have small cities changed and why? This has been the central question of my analysis. Small cities have been on divergent paths of success and failure since 1970. In the preceding chapters, I examined which factors contribute to stagnation and which ones appear to help small places grow and prosper. Just as important, however, I also put forth an argument about how we should assess urban change, particularly how we can think about success or failure among places large and small. In this chapter, I summarize the main findings from my analysis and offer some ideas about how we...

  11. 7 Epilogue: Small Cities after 2000
    (pp. 148-154)

    As the turn of the twenty-first century approached, things looked good in small cities. While not all had participated in the wave of prosperity of the late 1990s, many had booming economies, growing populations, and vibrant social scenes. Las Vegas was the fastest-growing metro area in the entire United States, and most of the small cities studied here had seen greater increases in median household income than had the nation as a whole. Even though there were signs in 2000 that the economy was cooling off, a good number of small cities looked to be in good shape.

    Unfortunately, most...

    (pp. 155-164)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 165-170)
    (pp. 171-178)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 179-188)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-190)