Every fall, I present a collection of shows, strolling excursions and scavenger hunts, in collaboration with group companions, for University of Scranton college students, households and staff to introduce them to Scranton. It’s my sixth yr operating this collection and every time I’m struck by the reactions. Parents, college students, school and employees, whether or not from Dunmore or Dumont, New Jersey, are pleasantly stunned by Scranton. Those from the area typically rediscover it with recent eyes and people from outdoors the world, like me, are happy to see the revitalization course of underneath approach.
As Meghan Ashlin Rich, Ph.D., a college sociologist, has written, “Although it is unlikely that Scranton will ever return to its industrial ‘glory days’ … there are many signs that Scranton is in the midst of a revival. In the past 10 years, the downtown, cornerstone of any small city, has undergone a commercial, architectural and cultural revitalization.”
In simply the final couple of months a number of new companies have opened in downtown Scranton, the Marketplace at Steamtown continues its regular and creative redevelopment and occasions just like the ScrantonMade vacation market, the Fringe Festival and First Fridays proceed to develop, providing distinctive inventive and cultural actions with a constructive group and financial influence. Scranton native Jane Jacobs, who would have celebrated her 100th birthday in May, can be pleased with her hometown’s progress in encouraging road-degree interplay in its central enterprise district and sustaining a metropolis with a practice and taste all its personal.
As the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., assume tank, has identified, increasingly more individuals search a “walkable urbanism” and that’s what downtown guests and residents of buildings just like the Connell Lofts more and more get. Brookings factors to a number of parts which might be key to the revival of any struggling downtown: “the development of a complex mix of retail boutiques, hotels, grocery stores, housing, offices, artists’ studios, restaurants, and entertainment venues.” While nonetheless a piece in progress, we must be happy that Scranton can examine the field on most of these parts.
In addition to the downtown, Scranton’s neighborhoods additionally supply one thing engaging. As I’ve reconnected with New York City space buddies in recent times, I discover many shifting out seeking the very issues Scranton has: low housing prices and brief commutes, plus a neighborliness and powerful group which are engaging. Indeed, whereas many main city facilities are pricing out their residents, Scranton has been named by Forbes Magazine because the eighth-greatest place to increase a household and MSN Real Estate has ranked it No. 1 amongst “10 Best Places to Start Over.”
These accolades aren’t proof that Scranton is ideal. We nonetheless lack household-sustaining job alternatives in numerous sectors, blight stays an issue and public infrastructure and faculties wrestle with a stagnant tax base and a financially strained authorities, however these issues will not be unique to Scranton. Cities nationwide which have misplaced historic industries are additionally reinventing themselves in an more and more know-how and repair-based mostly financial system. Many would envy our “eds and meds” power, based mostly on our schooling and well being care sectors. In addition, immigration to Scranton, whether or not Latino populations or from refugee teams, additionally supplies a brand new alternative to develop right into a extra numerous area that builds on our roots.
Jesuit founder St. Ignatius famously “loved the cities,” discovering worth within the type of transformational studying that takes place via person-to-person encounters in city settings. Last yr, the college launched a State of Scranton collection to discover the challenges and alternatives dealing with our area.
Community leaders have come to campus to speak about every little thing from the city’s monetary restoration plan and struggles for these not making a “living wage,” to the fantastic Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail system and using arts and tradition as a device for revitalization. Together, we now have explored what we will do collaboratively to handle a number of the challenges we face, together with increasing group-based mostly studying actions.
As somebody who has lived in New York and Washington, D.C., I’m grateful for our eclectic, approachable downtown and heat Hill Section neighborhood. I don’t take for granted my household’s historic Victorian-era residence, neighborhood elementary faculty and the strolling-distance proximity of a nationally acknowledged college employer. ScrantonMade and companions, at their extremely profitable December market, achieved one thing distinctive, marshaling the highly effective reminiscences of those that grew up going to the Globe Store whereas attracting these of us who simply knew it as a vacant storefront on Wyoming Avenue in want of latest life. Scranton’s wealthy heritage and aspirational future got here collectively in a approach that provided one thing for everybody and could also be a mannequin for the city’s progress shifting ahead.
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