Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival / Edition 1

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Comeback Cities shows how innovative, pragmatic tactics for ameliorating the nation's urban ills have produced results beyond anyone's expectations, reawakening America's toughest neighborhoods. In the past, big government and business working separately were unable to solve the inner-city crisis. Today, a blend of public-private partnerships, grassroots nonprofit organizations, and a willingness to experiment characterize what is best among the new approaches to urban problem solving. Pragmatism, not dogma, has produced the charter-school movement and the law enforcement's new focus on "quality-of-life" issues. The new breed of big-city mayors has welcomed business back into the city, stressed performance and results at city agencies, downplayed divisive racial politics, and cracked down on symptoms of social disorder. As a consequence, America's inner cities are becoming vital communities once again.
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Editorial Reviews

Robert McNatt
In Comeback Cities, Grogan and Proscio, a Harvard University administrator and a former New York City official, respectively, have written a smart and clear-headed narrative that makes a strong case for a brighter urban future without underplaying the problems still at hand. The book, aimed at policymakers, has its wonkish stretches. But it is generally free of jargon and strong on narrative, making it interesting enough to engage any reader seriously concerned about our cities.
Neighborhood Funder's Group
...proclaims the work of grassroots organizations to revitalize urban neighbors. For that alone, this book is important and most welcome.
Neal Pierce
We should hope that the new administration will respond to the Grogan-Proscio conclusion that today's successful urban reforms are ‘the common invention of both left and right, big government and tiny neighborhoods, grassroots volunteers and corporate CEOs'...Comeback Cities sums up the formula; Bush & Co. will do well to read it carefully.
American Prospect
...a well told and hopeful story of grass-roots activity breathing new life into cities...
David Pepper
...I have been reading a whole bunch of different books on urban and neighborhood revival. This one offers goof reason for hope...It's important for me to be reading and looking at what works.
New York Times optimistic book.
[an] accessible and detailed chronicle of the nuts and bolts of urban revitalization....
Lawrence Harmon
...[an] enlivening work on urban revitalization...
Santa Rosa CA Press Democrat
...Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio have released arguably the most important and insightful books on the American city in a generation.
Richard M. Daley
Paul Grogan explains how cities are rebuilding themselves block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood through grassroots community effort and strong local leadership. Chicago has benefitted from Grogan's leadership of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and policy makers around the country will benefit from the insights of this book.
David Gergen
From Chicago to Houston, the South Bronx to South Central Los Angeles,a quiet revolution is underway in America's inner cities. Poverty is still deep and progress remains fragile, but residents in one city after another are making their neighborhoods places where they want to live, shop, run businesses and go to school. In an eye-opening account, Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio tell us exactly why this is happening—and what must be done to keep it going. At heart, this book is an inspiring story of human ingenuity and courage.
Nicholas Lemann
Paul Grogan is one of the heroes of the community development movement. In Comeback Cities, he and Tony Proscio tell the inspiring and still largely unknown story of the good work community-development organizations have done over the last generation to help revive poor urban neighborhoods that everybody else had written off. Comeback Cities is a wonderfully optimistic book about a subject that Americans usually treat with self-fulfilling pessimism.
Clarence Page
Paul Grogan has helped community-based organizations make miracles happen in America's toughest neighborhoods. For years I have waited—and waited!—for him to squeeze into a book some of his wealth of facts, wisdom and experiences. Here, at last, it is. Many have diagnosed the ills of high-crime, disinvested urban neighborhoods. Comeback Cities offers prescriptions that work!
Thomas M. Menino
From years of experience, Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio explain what impatient mayors and professional protesters are slow to learn. Urban decline can't be reversed in a single stroke. Here, they analyze the forces behind new and encouraging progress in America's ‘comeback cities.' And they size up the obstacles that remain in our way.
Tom Brokaw
Paul Grogan's work in the inner cities of America is an example of the power of good people with great goals and a determination not to surrender. Read this and regain your hope.
Neal Peirce
Comeback Cities captures the drama and dynamic of America's urban revival with rare credibility, verve and insight. Grogan and Proscio also toss Left and Right orthodoxies aside as they analyze just where—from creating more CDCs to dramatic school reforms—cities need to move now.
Grogan (government, community, and public affairs, Harvard) and Proscio (former editor, ) outline tactics for ameliorating the nation's urban ill, addressing problems like racial tension, poor schools, and crime. Emphasizing pragmatism over dogma, they recommend a blend of public-private partnerships, grassroots nonprofit organizations, and a willingness to experiment. Chapters focus on elements such as grassroots organizing, emerging markets, public order, and deregulation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
Two urbanrenewal experts assess what has and has not worked to resuscitate America's decaying inner cities.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813368139
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/11/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Lexile: 1380L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Grogan has been a leader in revitalizing America’s cities for over twenty years. He has directed a number of major nonprofits that channel funds to grassroots, inner-city community groups. He now serves as President of The Boston Foundation. A former associate editor of the Miami Herald, Tony Proscio is a consultant to foundations and civic organizations and a free-lance writer on urban affairs. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction: The Argument in Brief 1
The Case for a Turnaround 11
1 The South Bronx: From the Bottom Up 15
2 Mass Exit: A Vision of Urban Doom 31
3 A Surprising Convergence of Positives 48
The Grassroots Revival 63
4 "We Can Sure As Hell Do Better Than This" 65
Emerging Markets 103
5 The Credit Revolution 107
6 New Stores--and New Customers--on Main Street 127
Public Order 147
7 Taking Back the Streets 151
Deregulating the City 175
8 The Fall (and Rise) of Public Housing 183
9 The Schoolhouse Door Opens (a Crack) 209
10 Slipping the Welfare Knot 225
11 The "Third Way" in City Hall 235
Conclusion: Seizing the Moment 241
Note on Sources 269
Selected Bibliography 273
Index 275
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