When Tom Murphy
was elected mayor of Pittsburgh in 1993, the Steel City was reeling. Once a global center for production and manufacturing, steel mills were closing, the population had plummeted 60 percent in 20 years, and the city’s pension system was on its way to junk status.
Recovery, Murphy told a Yale audience this week, would require creative public-private partnerships and high-risk decisions. While many clamored for more police officers, the city bought 1,500 acres of vacant steel mills and worked with private investors to redevelop them. And through strategic partnerships, the city transformed abandoned industrial properties into new commercial, residential, retail, and public uses — including two new sports stadiums and a green-certified convention center.
“Every city in the world now is trying to figure out its place in the world,” he said. “And if they’re not willing to take those risks — to invest in the future — they’re not going to get to the future.”
Murphy, who is now a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, joined Jonathan F.P. Rose
’74 B.A., an urban planner, author, and president of Jonathan Rose Companies
, for a discussion on the challenges of developing vibrant and resilient cities in the 21st