Barcelona’s innovative revitalization of an old downtown industrial area

This 2009 article by my buddy, the great Neal Pierce, documents the unique manner in which Barcelona revived an old downtown industrial area.

REVITALIZATION readers familiar with the current condition of this area are invited use the Comments section below to share their insights.

How can a city resuscitate an entire depressed, old inner city district, many of its blocks marked by the skeletons of abandoned factories?

Even more challenging–how to transform the same area into a high-powered knowledge hub that adds jobs by the thousands and draws dozens of high-powered national and international firms?

The “free enterprise” American approach might be to bring in the bulldozers, create an industrial park that displaces the old residents, and maybe offer companies public subsidies to move in.

Not Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Ten years ago this entrepreneurial city decided to build a modern “knowledge economy” close to downtown in its old waterfront Poblenou district, once a leading cotton mill center, renaming it “22@Barcelona, District of Innovation.

An American can’t visit 22@ without wondering: Could U.S. cities ever find the left-to-right political consensus, muster the faith in a government-chartered organization with 22@-like powers, to remake our lagging neighborhoods with parallel stem-to-stern remedies and approaches?

Photo of Barcelona at sunset via Adobe Stock Photos.

See original 2009 article.

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