© 2018

An Ordinary City

Planning for Growth and Decline in New Bedford, Massachusetts

  • Presents a valuable case study to examine the timely topic of urban population decline

  • Contributes to the burgeoning literature on declining cities and depopulation

  • Has global and interdisciplinary appeal, especially in the areas of urban studies, urban planning, public affairs, political science and environmental studies

Palgrave Macmillan

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Justin B. Hollander
    Pages 1-14
  3. Justin B. Hollander
    Pages 39-61
  4. Justin B. Hollander
    Pages 63-85
  5. Justin B. Hollander
    Pages 151-187
  6. Justin B. Hollander
    Pages 189-195
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 197-234

About this book


This book paints an intimate portrait of an overlooked kind of city that neither grows nor declines drastically. In fact, New Bedford, Massachusetts represents an entire category of cities that escape mainstream urban studies’ more customary attention to global cities (New York), booming cities (Atlanta), and shrinking cities (Flint).  New Bedford-style ordinary cities are none of these, they neither grow nor decline drastically, but in their inconspicuousness, they account for a vast majority of all cities. Given the complexities of growth and decline, both temporarily and spatially, how does a city manage change and physically adapt to growth and decline?  This book offers an answer through a detailed analysis of the politics, environment, planning strategies, and history of New Bedford.  


Urban Decline Urban Growth Urban Policy Environmental Studies Environmental Planning Sustainable Communities Brownfields Redevelopment Land Use Planning Urban Redevelopment Local Economic Development Depopulating Cities Depopulation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Tufts UniversityBostonUSA

About the authors

Justin B. Hollander is Associate Professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, USA. He has written five books and over 50 articles, book chapters, and reports on legacy cities, Big Data, brownfields, and urban design. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title An Ordinary City
  • Book Subtitle Planning for Growth and Decline in New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Authors Justin B. Hollander
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-60704-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-86916-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-60705-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 234
  • Number of Illustrations 12 b/w illustrations, 19 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Urban Studies/Sociology
    Urban Geography / Urbanism (inc. megacities, cities, towns)
    Urban Economics


“This text balances historical and archival research with interviews and fieldwork in its exploration of three New Bedford neighborhoods. These multiple forms of data enrich the work, offering a comprehensive analysis of the factors that lead to decline and those that helped manage it. … Summing Up: Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty and professionals.” (T. N. Allen, Choice, Vol. 56 (04), December, 2018)“In this thoroughly researched, fluently written, and delightfully illustrated book, Justin Hollander provides a memorable account of the complex history of an ‘ordinary city’—New Bedford, Massachusetts. The term ‘ordinary’ should not mask or downplay the importance of New Bedford as a case study. Through the rich description of the case, Hollander succeeds in asking and answering some of the most important and eternal questions about urban growth and decline. Everyone interested in how cities grow, shrink, and thrive again would benefit from reading this book.” (Sonia A. Hirt, Dean, School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, University of Maryland, College Park, USA)

“This is an insightful tale of the urban slide from ‘whaling capital of the world’ to an ordinary New England legacy city... Praise for Justin Hollander's take on New Bedford, MA—an extraordinary story of an ordinary city common throughout the American post-industrial North Atlantic and Great Lakes regions.” (Ivonne Audirac, Associate Professor, College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, University of Texas-Arlington, USA, and Co-Chair, Shrinking Cities International Research Network)