“Cleveland: Confronting Decline in an American City”
* Understanding Problems of the US Cities
During the first half of the 20th century, people had poured into big cities like Cleveland to look for unlimited opportunities and prospering future. However, for years now, people have been leaving their cities, as it has happened in Cleveland, for suburbs, mostly for the same reason that they came to cities in the first place: to pursue a better life.
Back in early 20th century, Cleveland was once a thriving industrial Mecca. It was the fifth largest city in the US at the time, a destination for thousands of immigrants from all over the world. It had the biggest port on Lake Erie’s ...view middle of the document...
But as the outward migration intensified, they moved farther and farther away to the outer suburbs. In the decades following the World War II, the exodus from Cleveland only had accelerated. Between 1960s and 2000s, the population of the city nearly fell in half.
During Cleveland’s heyday, most residents lived and worked within about 80 square miles around the inner city. Back then, Cleveland epitomized this well-developed concentric-ring model in this country, which emphasized the centripetal forces that concentrated economic activities in downtown of inner city. Today, residential buildings and businesses are spread across an area over 600 square miles across the northeast Ohio. This suburbanization, as it also happened elsewhere in the US, was not only driven by the increase in land prices, but also the change in transportation technology, especially the mass introduction of automobile that started in 1920s. Other factors that reinforced the suburban sprawl can be attributed to many federal policy implementations such as low mortgage rates, guaranteed loans, and property-tax reduction, as well as decreasing transportation cost, massive highway network, and most of all, cheap and abundant suburban lands. Particularly after the World War II, this suburbanization trend exploded in size when the nation’s economy enjoyed its grand growth in terms of low unemployment rate, rising real income, along with the baby booming. These were really what accelerated the nationwide metropolitan outward migrating process: from the city center to the city periphery.
But what rather surprising here was that, in Cleveland, the overall population had barely increased since 1960s. This was suburban sprawl without population growth, and it happened and may be still happening to many other older cities across the US today. Properties in the city were being abandoned, houses there were being left behind, and the prices of land was plumbing. The situation in the city began to deteriorate.
People were not the only ones leaving. As thousands of factories and mills closed down or moved to other places where cheaper lands and labor were largely available, commercial businesses had to followed the same path as they were forced to adapt the changing economy. Like many other older American cities, Cleveland was losing thousands of jobs. An example from the video documentary: an office building that used to be the former American headquarters of BP Corporation now is left vacant. Over 3 million square feet of downtown office space is almost empty. Forty percent of Cleveland’s jobs between 1960s and 2000s were eliminated. This great outward migration of people and businesses has had unintended consequences. Stores and businesses moved out of the city into suburban areas like shopping malls and office centers with plenty of space, particularly as of free and convenient parking lots. Even though the Cleveland city officials responded to such exodus in...