In a way, there’s nothing special about Newcastle, Australia.
Like a lot of other places around the world, this small city on the nation’s southeastern shore grew and flourished because of heavy industry—steel, in this case—and declined when that industry collapsed toward the end of the 20th century.
Despite a still-thriving coal trade and an active port, Newcastle’s downtown emptied out, and its once-bustling central business district became blighted.
In his new book, Creating Cities, Newcastle native Marcus Westbury describes the scene he found in his hometown in 2007:
Newcastle was dying. I thought I had no illusions, but everywhere I looked the rot was worse than I remembered. Streets that in my memories were vibrant, active, and filled with family and friends had fallen into disrepair and despair. Entire blocks were dominated by buildings that had been boarded up, gutted, and destroyed.
Now, eight years later, Newcastle has come alive again.