Shrinking Cities

American Context

"The 'shrinking city model,' as its called, reasons that a city suffering post-industrial blues and losing residents by the thousands wont suddenly charm people back by way of huge commercial bells and blockbuster whistles. Instead, the shrunk city demolishes blocks, converting its abandoned buildings and houses into open space for neighborhood enterprises and to nurture greenery. -- Brentin Mock

Recently, the ‘shrinking city’ phenomenon (aka urban decline, downsizing, etc.) has precipitated a break from the traditional planning approach (i.e. planning for growth), in which the focus is placed on managing shrinkage in such a way that transforms these cities into smaller, yet mightier communities. This new approach can include creating innovative uses for vacant properties, developing green infrastructure (greenways, urban agriculture, and open space), and focusing on strategic investments to improve the quality of life for the remaining residents.

Though cities have been slow to accept shrinkage, increasingly communities are embracing the notion of planning for shrinkage. Now there’s an emergence of new, innovative strategies for managing shrinking cities to help stabilize neighborhoods, engage the public and political leaders, and create places that are more equitable, and economically and ecologically sustainable.