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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New trends: changes in populating cities Lisbon and Birmingham (US)

The biggest trends: metropolis and con-urban areas and shrinking cities.

1- Europe:  Abandoned Lisbon

A recent piece written in El País talks about how Lisbon has lost 100,000 people per decade for the last 30 years.  The reasons they list include:
  •  poor condition of public services like schools and hospitals, 
  • and the fact that property in Lisbon costs 3 times more than in surrounding municipalities. 

It is such factors that have landed both Lisboa and Portugal’s second city, Porto, in the EU’s top ten most quickly shrinking cities.
Speaking with neighbors and friends, you hear the frustration that something more isn’t being done to renovate, restore, or above all – make use of these spaces somehow.  Through the eyes of someone who has seen the beauty of Amsterdam’s squat movement, or Copenhagen’s Christiania, there is a lack of creativity is this legendary capital city when it comes to reclaiming abandoned and forgotten spacesBut what is being done on a small or large scale in Lisbon? And why can’t more be done? Why not get radical and yes, a little crazy, when it comes to policies regarding abandoned property 

2. USA -The rust belt
Medium size towns  BIRMINGHAM (USA)

The population drained from a peak of 340,887 in 1960 to about 231,000 today.
Birmingham is one of the nation's fastest-shrinking cities, yet it has an ever-growing, world-class medical center. The metro area's growth lags, but many suburbs prosper. Middle-class flight has left pools of concentrated poverty.   By Jeff Hansen
On any given weekday, the corner of University Boulevard and 20th Street South is jammed with people and traffic. The bustling intersection is the doorstep of the University of Alabama at Birmingham -- and the heartbeat of the region's economy.
Just four miles away, in Birmingham's Ensley neighborhood, abandoned homes and businesses scar block after block. At 20th Street Ensley and Pleasant Hill Road are the remains of the Ensley Works, furnaces where thousands of people once made steel. Today, 18 rusting smokestacks stand sentry above fields of waist-high grass, the lost heart of a community whose population has plunged more than any other in the city.
Both intersections show the realities of life today in metropolitan Birmingham: 
  • One hails the best hopes for the future of Alabama's largest urban region -- a robust economic center built around a cutting-edge medical center and university. 
  • The other exposes the poverty and abandonment that is the Rust Belt of the South.

Between these extremes is Birmingham's struggle to thrive as a city and region.
Of the 15 American cities that have lost the largest share of their populations since 1960, 14 are in the industrial Northeast and upper Midwest -- areas traditionally known as the Rust Belt. No. 15 on that list is Birmingham

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