Harvard's Edward L. Glaeser Writes-Off Buffalo
OK, so we at Buffalo Rising like to hear from our readers when they have something upbeat to share about Buffalo (see Mark's Stempien's submission). Some readers, like Denizen, whose opinions I honestly respect, think that it's a bit much, and maybe it is. But I'll tell you one thing... just because some people have been following BR for a while does not mean that there are not new visitors tuning in. Many people have not heard that Buffalo is taking steps forward to becoming a healthy city once again. No, we're not there yet, but you can't deny that there are people out there who are trying to make a difference.
A recent article published in City Journal documents and outlines Buffalo's fall from greatness. These are the types of articles that are published nationally that continually discount us 'as a population of people who are trying to get out, but are stuck here to wallow in our own misery'. Though the article does its best to dismiss our city entirely, it does wrap up the article with the following paragraph (something very reminiscent of discussions that have been taking place on BRO for quite some time):
As for state and local politicians, reducing New York’s unnecessary taxes and regulation would be a good idea, since if Buffalo is ever to rebound, even somewhat, private innovators, not government projects, will be the primary reason. Better schools and safe streets would also be key to improving Buffalo’s chances of survival. Yet though such policies would improve things, they would not restore the boomtown of the early twentieth century; the economic trends working against such a prospect are simply too great. The best scenario would be for Buffalo to become a much smaller but more vibrant community—shrinking to greatness, in effect. Far better that outcome than wasting yet more effort and resources on the foolish project of restoring the City of Light’s past glory.
I have no problem with the thought of shrinking to greatness. I believe that is what many of us are working towards. We're not trying to become a NYC or Toronto. People live here because they like it. Buffalo is different. Buffalo will continue to be different. If we proceed to make private investments, strengthen our schools, and build upon our downtown core while rehabbing existing structures, then we will become a strong midsize city. There are a lot of people out there who give Buffalo a slim-to-zero chance of rebounding... just read the whole City Journal article by Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University.
When Edward attempts to respond to his own question, “Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?” he not only closes the book on our city, he writes off the people by answering, “Probably not—and government should stop bribing people to stay there.” Anybody who reads that article will undoubtedly think of Buffalo as a city going nowhere, and why shouldn’t they since Edward is a professor of economics at Harvard University and can thus lay a heavy sentence on Buffalo. It's amazing that 'the experts' can diagnose our past in order to prescribe our future.
Thanks to everyone that passed along this insightful article in which the research was supported by the Brunie Fund for New York Journalism.