I’ve had the distinct privilege and honor of visiting the great cities of Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Manchester, England over the past four years. All three of these industrial revolution-era urban centers can provide America’s Rust Belt with valuable insights about overcoming past malaise and degradation to chart a new economic paradigm. Here are ten lessons I have learned from visiting them and observing what makes all three so vibrant:
- Cities can be reborn again and again, as long as they are not abandoned.
- Discarding and demolishing a city’s physical history or its cultural legacy leave little from which to build a strong foundation for the future.
- Plan and design every project with pedestrians, cyclists, and transit in mind.
- Mixed uses are a great catalyst for rejuvenation, especially when residential uses are a part of the equation.
- Density is imperative, provided it remains at a human scale.
- Focus precious transportation resources on public transit, particularly modes such as commuter rail and light rail.
- Government participation is critical – the private and non-profit sectors have a role, but they cannot do it all.
- Art and cultural vibe – both traditional and trendsetting – are tremendously important.
- Remain open to bold and possibly contentious new ideas, designs, and/or methods for accomplishing goals.
- Accentuate the positive, but be sure to also address the negative.
– Rick Brown