Presenter Information

Tiffany Kent

Abstract

Brownsville, a small town located in Southwestern Pennsylvania, witnessed its population decrease by 65% from 1940 to 2000, which has caused financial downfall culminating in town council members begging the town’s electricity provider not to turn off power to the streetlights in 2007. How did a town that held historical significance during events such as Lewis and Clark’s exploration, the French and Indian War, and the Underground Railroad decline so rapidly? Brownsville seems to be suffering from major deterioration largely because of the deindustrialization of the rust belt and the events leading up to it. The severity of Brownsville’s decline requires immediate solutions to begin the process of restoring it to its former glory as a thriving town. But in order to create realistic public policy recommendations, it is crucial to consider Brownsville’s history, including the town’s rise and decline, and current situation. Instead of focusing on projects involving the idealistic renovation of abandoned buildings or the building of a velodrome, Brownsville should build a community college to improve on low education/income levels, infrastructure problems, and decreasing populations. Improving Brownsville is vital not only because of Brownsville’s historical significance and the benefits the residents would reap, but because of the implications the public policy recommendations may have for the numerous other towns in decline from deindustrialization.

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Advisor

Andrew Simpson, Ph.D.

Submission Type

Paper

Included in

History Commons

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Apr 6th, 12:00 AM

The Redevelopment of Brownsville

Brownsville, a small town located in Southwestern Pennsylvania, witnessed its population decrease by 65% from 1940 to 2000, which has caused financial downfall culminating in town council members begging the town’s electricity provider not to turn off power to the streetlights in 2007. How did a town that held historical significance during events such as Lewis and Clark’s exploration, the French and Indian War, and the Underground Railroad decline so rapidly? Brownsville seems to be suffering from major deterioration largely because of the deindustrialization of the rust belt and the events leading up to it. The severity of Brownsville’s decline requires immediate solutions to begin the process of restoring it to its former glory as a thriving town. But in order to create realistic public policy recommendations, it is crucial to consider Brownsville’s history, including the town’s rise and decline, and current situation. Instead of focusing on projects involving the idealistic renovation of abandoned buildings or the building of a velodrome, Brownsville should build a community college to improve on low education/income levels, infrastructure problems, and decreasing populations. Improving Brownsville is vital not only because of Brownsville’s historical significance and the benefits the residents would reap, but because of the implications the public policy recommendations may have for the numerous other towns in decline from deindustrialization.

 

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