Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pittsburgh Past - Detroit Future?

There was a time not too long ago that you could have had a serious debate over whether Pittsburgh would exist decades into the future. Certainly Pittsburgh would not disappear entirely, but the idea that we would quickly decline to the point that we would not be considered a major metropolitan region in the US was not uncommon. Honestly, vestiges of that debate pop up to this day among the more uber-pessimists in town.

That came to mind because in the Boston Globe today is this remarkably dismal quote from Professor Frankel at Harvard

"There will be some cities like Detroit that in a real depression could just become ghost towns," says Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist and member of the National Bureau of Economic Research committee that declares recessions. (Frankel does not, he emphasizes, think we are headed for a depression.)

Things are bad in the automobile world and there just isn't much on the horizon to turn it around anytime soon. There as here, denial is a real anchor on progress. There and here, there will eventually be a future. There are signs they are getting it. From earlier in the spring was this story comparing the Pittsburgh story to where Detroit is today: Different city, similar story: Pittsburgh rebirth proof that Michigan's industry may not define it forever. I am looking for the moment in Pittsburgh's history when the concept this would not be a 'steel' region was seriously considered, and when folks realized it was inevitable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

from the Detroit Free Press article:

"Detroit in a lot of ways has a leg up on Pittsburgh," said James Epolito, a Pittsburgh native and the chief executive of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. "We are still going to be the auto capital of the world."


still so sure, Mr. Epolito???

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