Boston's North End model for long-term economic growth: local, slow, continuous, not "frothy"

From New Geography writer Richard Reep: "Are we heading into a new era of local solutions to economic problems?  A good example from recent history is the turnaround performed by Boston’s North End neighborhood.  Before World War II, this neighborhood was a classic immigrant community, and considered unhealthy, dangerous, and poor.  After the war it was blacklisted by bankers who refused mortgages for home buyers, and the North End was cut off by the Central Artery highway running through the city. It became Boston's odd, leftover district. "But a mysterious thing happened to the North End.  The nation's great urbanist, Jane Jacobs, visited it in 1959 with the director of the Boston Housing Authority, who wanted to show her the neighborhood before it was razed in the name of urban renewal.  What she saw was a vibrant, robust street life, beautifully restored buildings, tenements that had been repurposed for middle-income flats, and a sense of pride in the neighborhood.  After researching the area, she discovered it had the lowest crime rate, disease rate, and mortality rate in the city.  Jacobs successfully staved off the bulldozers, and the North End still exists as one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in America today.

"Because the North End was cut off by institutional investors, the neighborhood became economically introverted.  Construction work was done on a cash or barter basis, and people made slow, incremental changes to their residences as the money became available.  Instead of relying on banks for big credit infusions, North Enders relied on themselves.

"As in the North End, no one is waiting for the big banks to come in and fix things.  Instead, people are turning local needs into opportunities at a scale that is small enough that outside help is not needed.  Under our very noses, a new economy is being born.  Our towns and cities will adapt to this form long before it is noticed by the mainstream.  The ingenuity and ambition of individuals will be the factors that bring us out of the Millennial Depression, and create a new economy for the future."  Full article here.