30 November 2010

Abstract for Conference in Porto Portugal

The following is my abstract for the conference in Porto, Portugal, as refrenced in the previous blog entry.

Shrinking cities and their relationship to shifts in the global economy

The term "shrinking cities" is a relatively new one in urbanism and the study of the global political economy. A shrinking city is one where population and economic prosperity has declined significantly due to national and international movement of capital, global structural changes and the recent financial crisis. This phenomena was first seen in the 'rust belts' of the Northwest and Midwest of the United States, Midlands of the UK, industrial core of Scotland, Northern Spain, the Ruhr Valley and Silesia (Poland and Czech Republic) and other areas mainly in the US and Europe. In many cities, such as Detroit in the US, the decline is severe resulting in a large number of abandoned houses,industrial and commercial areas. The infrastructure and the services of these areas are under also severe pressure due to the decline of revenue to support them. This paper will investigate the stages of decline in key locations in the U.S., and Europe , examples of how some these cities are handling the changes and future strategies on various scales to transition these cities to another phase of development. .

28 November 2010

Invitation to join panel at Third Global International Studies Conference (17-20 August 2010)

I and others are organizing a panel for the upcoming Third Global International Studies Conference to be held 17-20 August 2011 at the
University of Porto, Portugal. The them of the conference:
"World Crisis. Revolution or Evolution in the International Community?"
The conference link is http://wisc2011.up.pt/

The working title for the panel is: "The role of cities in the global political economy."

Please contact me at michaelamcadams@yahoo.com if you are interested in being part of this panel. If you can also send an abstract of your paper at the same time, this would greatly facilitate the formation of the panel. The deadine is 29 November for submissions of abstracts for this panel.

27 November 2010

Downsizing or Bankruptcy for Shrinking Cities

If cities that are shrinking do not downsize, they will eventually have to go into bankruptcy. The cities in the 'rust belt' are suffering more during the on-going financial crisis. However, cities whose housing markets were over-heated such as Las Vegas and Phoenix are also experiencing difficulty. These times are certainly chaotic and unsettling for metropolitan governments and their residents. These changes are also tied to the structual changes in the global economy which were on-going before the financial crisis. An article by Richard Florida in The Atlantic (on-line) at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2009/03/how-the-crash-will-reshape-america/7293/ delves into many of these issues.
In an interview with Richard Florida he states that the way to revitilize cities and our economy is "to invest in the creativity of each and every individual—and give people the right to express their creative talents in ways that they find interesting and relevant..." (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/02/the-great-reset/7303/ ) One could conclude or extapolate from this atatement that while investment in infrastructure will be important a la Kensian economoics, it will not be the primary engine to revitilze cities. Cities, always being at the creative "edge of chaos" must revitlize themselves.

25 November 2010

The Suburbs are the New Slums of the Future

In the blog entry of New Geography (http://www.newgeography.com/content/001601-the-suburban-exodus-are-we-there-yet )the authors poses an interesting argument that the suburbs will be the new slums of the future, based on some interesting statistics. However, in shrinking cities, if we take the example of Detroit, are not the suburbs turning into stand-alone cities (which may have already occurred) while the urban core is deteriorating and transforming to become a part of a set of agglomerations? Perhaps, the future is regional and not 'wringing our hands" on the demise of this once vibrant city or any city which is in chronic decline. In other words, should we not "read the final rites" for these cities and go out to transform them into much smaller versions. We can grieve for them in history books.

18 November 2010

Is fractal dimension and lacunarity a possible 'index' for the health of a city?

In reference to earlier research that I conducted examining the fractal dimension, and urban morphology of cities (see references below) and contemplating the concept of shrinking cities, it occurred to me that fractal dimension could be an 'index” of the health of cities. This needs to be explored further, but it would appear that would be some merit in examining these elements with the health of cities.


Michael A. McAdams, "Fractal Analysis and the Urban Morphology of a City in a Developing Country: A Case Study of Istanbul", Marmara Journal of Geography, Vol. 15, Jan. 2008
(To view*  this article, go to:

Michael A. McAdams, "The application of fractal analysis and spatial technologies for urban analysis", Journal of Applied Functional Analysis, Vol. 4, No. 4, Feb. 2009, pp. 569-579. (To view* this article, go to  )
http://independent.academia.edu/MichaelMcAdams/Papers/831467/The_application_of_fractal_analysis_and_spatial_technologies_for_urban_analysis .)

*To download this article as a PDF, you must be a member of academia.edu or if already a member, you must log into your academia.edu account.; if not you must set up an account.  Go to http://independent.academia.edu for more information.

17 November 2010

Shrinking Cities International Research Network

The global connection of cities is becoming increasingly obvious. Cities exist on multiple scales: local, national and globally. This ties in directly with the theory of networked complexity of cities/urbanized areas. The problem lies with the rapidity of economic, environmental and demographic changes (as in the case of the global financial crisis) and the ability of cities to respond.

Many institutes and organizations are grappling with these issues. An example of one such organization is The Shrinking Cities International Research Network (http://www.shrinkingcities.org/)) an internationally linked organization based in Berkley, California, USA. It contains some interesting articles and some information about conferences addressing the shrinking city. However, the site appears to be not updated as frequently as would be desired (there are no conferences mentioned for 2011) and the databases promised are not present, which would greatly enhance the website usefulness for researchers.

14 November 2010

Time Article (November 22, 2010) -"How to Shrink a City"

As I was thinking about this subject, I get in the mail the new issue of Time Magazine which includes an article on the ongoing crises in the US city. What providence? I am still reading it and will give my comments on this blog in the next couple of days. Any comments from the readers of this blog on this article and the 'imploding' city in the US would be welcome.

12 November 2010

Urban Planning for Austerity

The recovery from the recession is taking longer than expected. States are cutting budgets which are affecting cities. Cities are also losing more revenue due to the decreasing local funds, used for such essentials as fire, police and education, being based on property taxes and a sometimes a declining population. Also, in the emerging climate in Washington where many espousing to belong to the Tea Party, cities are not likely to get any additional funds to bridge these gaps. Is it time for cities to retrench by cutting expenses and services, hoping for an upturn in the economy and government, or is it time to innovate and create another future for themselves? Urban planning has been built around the expansion of cities, not their contraction. What should be the suggested strategies to confront these issues? These issues will be developed in future blog entries.