Reinventing America's Legacy Cities: Strategies for Cities Losing Population

Many US cities have rebounded from their nadir a decade or two ago with healthier downtowns, neighborhoods, and local economies. Other cities, however, with rich historical heritages and valuable resources for this nation’s future, are experiencing severe population loss. This Assembly was aimed at building stronger policy frameworks and coalitions to assist these places.  
Eighty participants from the United States and Europe met from April 14th-17th, 2011, in Detroit, Michigan in structured discussions on the challenges facing “legacy cities”—as they chose to call them—as well as the hurdles to repairing them. The timing was relevant because of work already underway in a number of cities.
This Assembly was co-sponsored by The Center for Community Progress (CCP) and The Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The project was co-chaired by Henry G. Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Gregory S. Lashutka, Senior Consultant, Findley Davies and former Mayor of Columbus, Ohio.

Recommendations included using market-driven development strategies to focus on the strongest neighborhoods while employing land banks in more economically challenged areas.

From Henry Cisneros, former HUD secretary and Legacy Cities Co-Chair:

"The American Assembly project's leadership has been stellar over many years.  In Detroit The Assembly led an expert and hardworking group.  The strong attendance at the sessions was matched by the high quality of the analyses.  It is an uplifting thing to see such a meaningful set of recommendations emerge over a span of several days. I know that all of us who participated were motivated by our desire to arrest the deterioration of the hardest hit cities and to improve the quality of life for the people who reside in them.  I believe we laid out a reasonable path.  Now we will work in our own ways to convert our ideas into actions. Please know of my immense respect for the American Assembly’s events and for your leadership!" 


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