The New, Improved? Rust Belt
There is no longer a Rust Belt. It melted into air. The decline of manufacturing, the vacancy of the immense, industrial structures that once defined the productive capacities and vibrant lives of so many pockmarked towns, the dwindling of social capital—all the prognosticators writing the obituaries for these dead geographies were right.
How long were rust belt cities going to be able to, as author Robert Putnam would phrase it, “bowl alone?” It turns out not very long.