Dispatch: On the brink: Can Ohio's big cities be saved?

The pictures are old, faded, black and white.

But the vibrancy of Ohio's once-thriving big cities remains crystal clear. You see it in faces in the crush of people outside W.T. Grant's in downtown Youngstown in 1952, the frenetic shift change at B.F. Goodrich Co. in Akron in the 1940s, a bustling street market in Dayton in 1910.
Toledo is banking its future on past successes as a manufacturing and assembly powerhouse. Cleveland is luring residents back to inner-city neighborhoods with unique incentives, using Cleveland Clinic as the anchor to make the city an international biomedical research and treatment destination.
That experience can be found in shrinking Ohio cities striving for new legacies, said Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

"In America, the 200,000-to-350,000-size cities are the future of a successful urban existence," he said. "I really think that the Des Moines(es) and Toledos and Akrons, where it's easy to get around and where the ballpark, the art museum and zoo are a short distance away, I think we're the future for young people."


No votes yet

Toledo doesn't have this problem. Toledo is the third most livable city on this planet and most livable city in the United States.

First, Toledo has to decide on a vision of what it wants to be.

From the May 2006 metropolismag.com The Incredible Shrinking City

'But Youngstown has little choice: once a city of more than 170,000, it counts roughly 80,000 residents today. The town had to recast itself as a smaller place. “You had all of this excess infrastructure and a declining tax base,” says Oliver Jerschow of Urban Strategies, which developed the basis for Youngstown 2010’s plan. “But on the positive side, Youngstown had these legacies that a typical city of eighty thousand would never have.” Those legacies include assorted cultural venues, a 140-acre university campus, and the five-mile-long Mill Creek Park.'

'"Ultimately the city may have to surrender to its location and become a bedroom community for Cleveland and Pittsburgh, each about 70 miles away. So in the end growing smaller may transform Youngstown into something else, says Charles Waldheim, a University of Toronto architecture professor who participated in the most recent Shrinking Cities conference. “To the extent that northeastern Ohio has a market for housing,” he says, “it seems that Youngstown’s future is making itself available for the garden living of the suburb.”'

Toledo has Detroit and Cleveland populations from which to draw for an inexpensive bedroon community. Of course electricity rates have to be held firm for awhile and property taxes need to be stabilized.

How many people reading this work in the Metro Detroit area, or know someone who does?

By trying to hang unto the old "Rust Belt" businesses and unions, Toledo is emptying its coffers for little or no return.

All that exoburb and bedroom community CRAP is coming to an end for most Americans as the price of gasoline continues to rise. US-produced oil peaked in the 1970s, and world production is peaking now. Sure, other areas (like the tar sands and oil shales that Canada is now moving to exploit) can be exploited, but that's only possible because THE PRICE IS HIGH. The difficult oil deposits will only be worked into once the capitalist scum think there's enough of a profit in it.

We'll never actually run out out of oil ... it will just continue to rise in price until more and more members of oil-using society drop out of using it, at least directly.

Oil will literally only continue to climb in price. That will be a hammer blow to all this foolish suburbia and exoburbia. They relied on cheap gas, and that era is over. They relied on the car, and that era is coming to an end, too. All the avenues of adjustment AWAY from the oil-based car will cost hugely (public transit or alternate fuels).

Eventually, a LOT of people will have to move back into city centers and combined buildings due to the horrific costs of energy. However, the job base for them will not expand to give them the prosperity they'd need to continue living in the lifestyle they'd been accustomed to. This movement inward will create a few more jobs, but then the stark reality of America's flight of the industrial base will hit.

So, as we move urbanically inward as a culture, we move downward in the wealth base on average. So the future is going to be a lot more violent in one way (anarchic) or another (authoritarian).

Got the Rust Belt part.
But how are unions, which decline in membership when businesses close up or downsize and or leave the country, contributing to the decline in the greater Toledo area.
A unionized work force is created by the workers and the two parties get together and negotiate.
There are unionized trades people here but not every construction job is union is it?
The car industry has been bloated for so long all the while the costs of the aging work force placed more and more financial pressure on the bottom line, what with health care costs for an aging work force and retirement benefits tied to old style plans and so on. The companies had to close down and lay people off as a matter of business survival.
There are cities all across the nation that have unionized workforces and they prosper and grow.
The problem here seems to be a lack of vision or a lack of looking in the present tense and seeing that the major employers were downsizing and leaving.
But it seems that when the ship left the harbor and the harbor master turned ever so slowly to see the outward bound ship sailing off with jobs and loss of tax revenue, the harbor master was not willing to see the future, with out ships coming into the harbor, the harbor shrinks and closes and downsizes.
Who has the vision to have more ships sail in and change things?

1. The ships are owned by the capitalists.
2. Government officials are not the capitalists.
3. Government officials can only bribe the capitalists using the public treasury.
4. THEREFORE, nothing morally can be done except to downsize the government.

We keep avoiding these facts, yet they remain the facts of the matter. Of course, there's another way to do things: outright Communism. All this "economic development" crap dances around that topic, but what those plans really want is a merger between business and government. That's Communism, and we're supposed to NOT want such a nasty thing here in America, right?

"Communism is an ideology that promotes establishment of a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. It is usually considered a branch of the broader socialist movement that draws on the various political and intellectual movements that trace their origins back to the work of Karl Marx."

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.