Spatial Justice and the Shrinking City


  • How to address the challenges facing shrinking cities, the social and economic inequities encountered by the diverse populations, and the challenges of vacant lands in these cities
  • Best practices in addressing spatial justice in shrinking cities and the challenges of equity distribution of community services, infrastructure, and amenities
  • How to understand the environmental-justice issues inherent in shrinking cities and the ecological planning principles in addressing these challenges


Cities offer an array of living environments for their residents. Some urban habitats lack basic infrastructure and services or access to employment and quality education. Some neighborhoods are fence-line communities immediately adjacent to industrial sites or waste-management facilities and directly affected by the noise, odors, chemical emissions, traffic, parking, and operations. Often as a city shrinks and companies close, jobs are lost, but the negative impact of such proximity remains. As cities hollow out and wealthier residents flee to more prosperous environs, it is the poor and minorities who remain in scattered patches within a sea of vacant land. Faced with declining populations and a limited tax base, how do such cities address the resulting issues of spatial equity and environmental justice? Explore case studies and learn from a panel of experienced practitioners who have sought solutions to these challenges in Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans.