28house.3As we are all collectively “tightening our belts” in this fun and frugal 2009, the cities a lot of us live in are thinking about doing the same. The Harvard economist and urban guru Edward Gleaser writes up a conise argument and history of the need for our over-bloated cities to go on a diet and trim the fat, literally.

The Rustbelt cities started their population declines in the 1960’s as the promise of post-WWII homeownership reached it’s heyday. Millions fled the cramped conditions of the inner city for the prized lawn we could each call our own. More Americans now live in the suburbs than anywhere else, leaving the pockmarked and abandoned mothership without any tax-fuel. The result? Cities can’t afford to keep themselves functioning. The answer? Downsize. Relocate thousands to concentrate the population and minimize the infrastructural need. Transform thousands of homes into fields and forests. Will the Iriquois return?

In a bizarre reversal of fortune, the Sunbelt cities, fueled by years on the promise of warmth and cheap land, has been seeing the de-migration begin. The suburbs had already shown their banality. The Ponzi-like real estate schemes are finalizing the dexodus and the suburbs now have thousands of  homes in foreclosure.  The result? Entire metropolitan areas are looking for a purpose.

Can Buffalo become Buffalo again? Should it?

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