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The Rust Belt’s Overlooked Legacy - Commercial Property Executive


For most people, the Rust Belt is a symbol of closed factories, vacant downtowns and decreasing population.

The term was popularized by politician Walter Mondale in 1984, and it applies to the areas with a manufacturing-based economy that have been losing population starting with the 1980s. Trump brought the Rust Belt back in the spotlight by using it as an example of the U.S.’s fall from past greatness. And since his election, the term has become more widespread in the media. The cities in Rust Belt experienced decline mostly for the same reasons. The rise of Wall Street and the Reagan presidency’s war on unions led to the loss of many manufacturing jobs, destroying the balance of the middle class. Powerhouses such as General Motors or Chrysler couldn’t keep up with the shifting technology landscape and turned out to be inefficient. Starting with the diminishing steel and iron industries and the 1973 oil crisis, things turned from bad to worse. Each town and city along the Rust Belt faced and continues to face a unique set of challenges. While big cities such as Cleveland or Detroit have already told their stories, smaller cities lurk behind their shadow and often get overlooked. A study from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy tracks the struggles and successes of 24 smaller towns in order to accurately depict the image of the nation’s legacy cities. To read the whole article from Commercial Property Executive, click here.