In Search of a Cure for Zombie Neighborhoods

By Richard Florida
Published: August 2, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

So-called “zombie” properties — buildings and even entire neighborhoods that from an economic perspective are both unviable and unrevivable — are analogous to the walking dead that populate the movies of George A. Romero, contend the authors of the new study, “Dawn of the Dead City: An Exploratory Analysis of Vacant Addresses in Buffalo, NY 2008-2010” published in the Journal of Urban Affairs. Mark Silverman, Li Yin, and Kelly L. Patterson of the University at Buffalo have taken on the task of charting the rise of zombie neighborhoods in the shrinking cities of America’s Rustbelt.

Movie zombies, they argue, are good metaphors for the socioeconomic processes that have devastated so many cities, “which no longer produce goods and services in a sustainable manner. Their schools fail to replenish human capital, their labor forces are depleted as the population grays, they have weakened civic institutions, and they are devoid of cultural meaning.”

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