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Phoenix cities
The fall and rise of great industrial cities

Anne Power, Jörg Plöger, Astrid Winkler
Paperback, 432 pages, 240 x 172 mm
16 Mar 2010
CASE Studies on Poverty, Place and Policy


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"...this work is a scholarly and accessible exploration of the rise and fall of industrial cities, and provides useful hints on the history and future of recovery."
Neil McInroy in New Start Magazine
"Post-industrial cities have much in common across Europe, in both old and new member states. For this reason I am struck by five key ideas in Phoenix Cities: The timescale needed for these cities to recover is long - a whole generation: many different interventions are needed - land use, environment, social inclusion, citizen participation and responsive projects all contribute to recovery: interventions must fit together, requiring a strategic perspective and decision-making structure that guarantee the continuity of delivery for the duration: new skills are vital to people returning to employment after the collapse of traditional jobs: finally, in the 'European model' of urban recovery, public investment plays a decisive role in the renewed take-off of these cities."
Sylvie Harburger, Caisse de Depôts
"As we embark on a new era of urbanism, based on resilience, equity and sustainability, there's so much to learn from these 'boom, bust and recover' case studies. A hugely insightful piece of work."
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

About This Book

'Weak market cities' across European and America, or 'core cities' as they were in their heyday, went from being 'industrial giants' dominating their national, and eventually the global, economy, to being 'devastation zones'. In a single generation three quarters of all manufacturing jobs disappeared, leaving dislocated, impoverished communities, run down city centres and a massive population exodus. So how did Europeans react? And how different was their response from America's? This book looks closely at the recovery trajectories of seven European cities from very different regions of the EU. Their dramatic decline, intense recovery efforts and actual progress on the ground underline the significance of public underpinning in times of crisis. Innovative enterprises, new-style city leadership, special neighbourhood programmes and skills development are all explored. The American experience, where cities were largely left 'to their own devices', produced a slower, more uncertain recovery trajectory. This book will provide much that is original and promising to all those wanting to understand the ground-level realities of urban change and progress.

Author Biography

Anne Power is Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a visiting senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. She is the author of City survivors (The Policy Press, 2007). Jörg Plöger completed his PhD at the University of Kiel, Germany, in 2006 and worked on the Weak Market Cities programme at LSE from 2006-09. He is now at the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development in Dortmund, Germany. Astrid Winkler obtained an MSc in social psychology at LSE and worked on the CASE Neighbourhood Study before helping Anne Power to set up the Weak Market Cities programme.


Part one: The tale of seven cities: Introduction: what are weak market cities?
Industrial giants: emerging on the back of history
A change in direction: political turmoil and a ferment of new ideas
Neighbourhood interventions: can small scale make a difference in big cities?
Part two: Learning from 50 years of boom and bust: seven European case studies: Introduction
Part three: Are weak market cities recovering or struggling?: Towards a recovery framework
Part four: What can European cities learn from the American experience of urban industrial decline and post-industrial recovery initiatives?: How do American weak market cities compare with Europe?
Will American cities recover?
What are the lessons for Europe?
Part five: Conclusions: What do European cities teach us?
where does the future lie?


ReviewsOwn it? Review it!

Phoenix cities
This is an ambitious, fascinating and highly readable book. It examines seven former industrial centres across Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK as they move into their post-industrial futures. The book is written in an accessible and engaging style which will appeal across different audiences. There is an abundance of rich source of material which will be of interest to anyone grappling with the effects of post-industrial decline at local, neighbourhood as well as national and international levels. The book highlights the dramatic, widespread and largely unstoppable scale of decline in former industrial centres, but it is the optimism, hope and resilience of reinvention which is as inspiring as it is instructive. The book manages to balance up wider processes of social change with close up, detailed accounts of specific local and neighbourhood initiatives in each place and we see very clearly how global processes of change are not just visited top down onto places and communities but can be embraced and accommodated. Sheffield, in the UK for example, manages to draw pretty effectively on its history for advanced manufacturing and technical innovation to better engage with the new and developing knowledge based economy. Practitioners and those with power to oversee and enact policy change at a local and regional level could learn a lot from these fascinating case studies. Overall, this book delivers strong messages of hope and optimism. At the same time the reader is left in no doubt of the scale of the task and the dangers for those who increasingly seem to be left behind or locked out. Young people, for example, are highlighted as being particularly vulnerable to marginalisation and social exclusion. It is also clear that these places - and places like them - will probably forever need to grapple with processes of decline and recovery and will face on-going challenges and problems. Overall this is a valuable, thought provoking and deeply informative book and it deserves a wide readership.
Reviewed by Dr Tracy Shildrick

Phoenix cities
The regeneration of urban areas presents fundamental challenges to contemporary societies as problems of counter-urbanisation, environmental decay and social conflict have become steadily more acute. These problems have particular resonance for those areas which have been historically reliant on a small number of manufacturing industries and Phoenix Cities tells the story of how these 'weak market cities', once regarded as 'industrial giants', have struggled with economic, social and environmental change. The book considers three main phases of economic transformation: a first (ultimately self-destructive) industrial economy; a second knowledge-based, high-technology post-industrial economy, which presented 'unprecedented global, financial and resource uncertainties' and a third resource constrained economy, offering considerable threats to recovery but also presenting opportunities for creative solutions to achieve environmental, economic and social sustainability.,,The book is based on seven European case studies, classified under four main groupings: cities in political turmoil (Belfast, Bilbao); centres of mono-industrial production (Sheffield, St. Etienne); regional capitals with historic leadership roles (Torino, Bremen) and former socialist cities (Leipzig). As such their juxtaposition effectively illustrates how contemporary European cities have attempted to meet the challenges of post-industrial, knowledge economies, economic transformation and global capital. The book examines how these areas have been reinvented through a strategy of political leadership, physical regeneration and economic renewal (in conjunction with smaller-scale neighbourhood interventions).,,Phoenix Cities offers a much-needed comparative dimension to these questions and provides detailed analysis of developments in different economic and political contexts. Whereas Power and Houghton's (2007) Jigsaw Cities adopted a primarily UK focus, the present volume is more wide-ranging and the focus on European cities provides a compelling account of both the processes leading to inner-city decline and a thorough evaluation of the different regeneration strategies adopted. Despite considerable differences in the seven cities (for example the social context facing Belfast is very different from that of Torino in Italy) there is a striking level of convergence within all these areas as economic restructuring has led to widening inequality and social polarisation. Consequently municipal responses have taken familiar forms (including economic renewal, physical regeneration and community-driven partnership interventions). The book is supplemented by high quality colour illustrations, although it is unfortunate that some details are too small to read.,,Later chapters consider lessons from the US, considering experiences in both large cities (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia) and smaller mid-west 'rust belt' urban areas (Louisville, Chattanooga, Akron). Whilst these sections offer a fascinating set of comparisons (not least in highlighting the far more entrenched problems of US urban decline, combined with minimal government support) the discussion is somewhat unbalanced; over 80% of the book is devoted to Europe. Nevertheless, the authors provide important lessons in times of economic austerity about the prospects for the ‘compact city’ when regeneration programmes are threatened. The book provides a welcome antidote to the deep pessimism and cynicism permeating much discussion of contemporary urban policy, whilst outlining the dangers of 'investment stagnation' following recession. In highlighting the importance of continued investment through public infrastructure, the book should offer pause for reflection for politicians and policy-makers about the consequences of retrenchment; US experiences offer a salutary reminder of how neo-liberalism could undermine the social solidarity of European cities.,,
Reviewed by Tony Manzi

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