Europe’s historic city centres look dense, busy, cared for, populated with cafes, small shops, monuments, churches, public squares and traffic. On the centre’s edge, even in smaller, poorer cities, there are often concrete towers, gestures to modernity, banking and internationalisation. However, there are also abandoned buildings and derelict spaces. It is easy to see the potential in Europe’s battle-worn cities and their multi-tongued people, just as it is easy to see the broad sweep of world-shaping history. However, many city cores around the centre have become run down, underinvested, unloved, with too many jobless youth and too few enterprising job creators. All of Europe’s cities were not long ago producers of goods. Today, most of those goods come from afar and too many hands, machines and spaces are idle. This international handbook draws together 10 years of ground-level research into the causes and consequences of Europe’s biggest urban challenge – the loss of industry, jobs and productive capacity. The handbook explores the potential of former industrial cities to offer a new and more sustainable future for a crowded continent under severe environmental constraints and extreme, economic and social pressures. It focuses on cities that not only were the most productive and wealth creating in the not too distant past, but the most reliant on major industries and therefore the hardest hit by their demise. These cities have lived through many phases of growth and decline, and they are experimenting in alternative futures. So they may show us new ways forward.

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