“The shrinking mining city: urban dynamics and contested territory” by Martinez-Fernandez (2012)


Shrinking mining cities — once prosperous settlements servicing a mining site or a system of mining sites — are characterized by long-term population and/or economic decline. Many of these towns experience periods of growth and shrinkage, mirroring the ebbs and flows of international mineral markets which determine the fortunes of the dominant mining corporation upon which each of these towns heavily depends. This dependence on one main industry produces a parallel development in the fluctuations of both workforce and population. Thus, the strategies of the main company in these towns can, to a great extent, determine future developments and have a great impact on urban management plans. Climate conditions, knowledge, education and health services, as well as transportation links, are important factors that have impacted on lifestyles in mining cities, but it is the parallel development with the private sector operators (often a single corporation) that constitutes the distinctive feature of these cities and that ultimately defines their shrinkage. This article discusses shrinking mining cities in capitalist economies, the factors underpinning their development, and some of the planning and community challenges faced by these cities in Australia, Canada, Japan and Mexico.


Shinking cities around the world. A research project

6.1 billion people currently live on the earth, 3 billion of them in cities. By 2030, the population of the world will have increased by 2 billion (+33%). This increase will be stem almost exclusively from the growth in urban population. Every day, 190,000 new city-dwellers are added all over the world, 2 in every second. In the year 2030, 4.9 billion people will live in cities. But not all cities are taking part in this competition. Whether in Germany or the USA, in Russia or China, in South Africa or Iran, everywhere there are also shrinking cities that the constant media focus on boomtowns and megacities all too easily overlooks. In the last 50 years, about 370 cities with more than 100,000 residents have temporarily or lastingly undergone population losses of more than 10%. In extreme cases, the rate of loss reached peaks of up to 90% (Âbâdân, Iran).

In the annals of history, the decline of cities is usually depicted as a catastrophic, exceptional event (Atlantis, Troy, Pompeii, etc.), but an examination of the past 50 years shows a contrary development. Shrinking cities are increasingly a lasting phenomenon. The increase in the population of growing cities is markedly higher than the losses of the shrinking cities, but the number of shrinking cities has greatly increased. Between 1950 and 2000, the number of shrinking cities has increased by 330%, while the increase in the number of cities with more than 100,000 residents has amounted to only 240%. Thus, despite all the expectations created by the scenarios of constant growth, the number of shrinking cities has increased faster than the number of boomtowns.

Some cities have been losing population for a period of more than 50 years (for example, most of the shrinking cities in the USA). In other cases, the period of shrinkage has lasted only a few years (for example, Basra, Iraq; Manila, the Philippines). In extreme situations, for example wars or disasters, the loss of population has occurred as a shock when most residents were forced to leave their city. Thus, during the Iran-Iraq War, Khorramshahr and Âbâdân (both in Iran) lost more than 20% of their populations within a single year.

Most shrinking cities in the last 50 years have been in Western industrial countries, especially in the USA (59), Britain (27), Germany (26), and Italy (23). Since 1990, shrinking cities have increasingly been found in former Warsaw Pact countries, like Russia (13), Ukraine (22), and Kazakhstan (13). Between 1950 and 2000, there have also been an above-average number of shrinking cities in South Africa (17) and Japan (12). But the centers of gravity of this development have been in Europe and the USA. And this trend will increase, because in the future Europe will hardly participate in worldwide population growth. In 35 years, only 10% of the world’s population will live in the Western world, and some countries must prepare for a general decrease in population.

For a worldwide investigation of shrinking cities, the project Shrinking Cities is evaluating historical population data from more than 8,000 cities. This evaluation’s period of measurement extends from 1950 to 2000. All known shrinking cities with populations larger than 100,000 were taken into consideration for the international comparison and the worldwide cartography. The results of the study were shown at theexhibition “Shrinking Cities” and were published in the form of an atlas.

Original source: http://www.shrinkingcities.com/ -Global Study: Büro Philipp Oswalt, Research: Tim Rieniets

Diversity and cultural edginess-based social and physical disorder #ferrol #galiza #spain


Curiously, not far from the Ferrol Vello physical disorder I described in the previous post “Social and Physical Disorder in the Urban Metropolis #ferrol #galiza #spain“, lies another example. But this time, the neighbourhoods disorder shows up in a rather different way. It’s Barrio de Canido, also located in the Galician city of Ferrol (Spain). As well as Ferrol Vello, Barrio de Canido have suffered a clear process of urban and social deterioration over the last decades in a context of shipbuilding restructuring and economic shrinking. Abandoned or half  demolished houses were not long ago the main characteristic feature. However, in this case, the neighbourghood disorder in Barrio de Canido has somehow given place to another disorder, but this time as an expression of diversity and cultural edginess. The neighbourghood has welcomed since 2008 an artistic reclaiming movement: Meninas de Canido. The aim of this movement is precisely attract attenion on the abandonment of this place by mean interpreting the work of the famous Spanish painter Velazquez over the hardest hit walls. Artists from all over the world have since then contributed to change the shrinking face of the neighbourhood. Meninas de Canido has become a community identity symbol. And here is the result (Further info in their webside)


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Social and Physical Disorder in the Urban Metropolis #ferrol #galiza #spain



Ferrol Vello, the old town of the third larger metropolitan areas of the Autonomous Community of Galicia (Spain) (163,669 inhabitants in 2009) Clear example of social and physical disorder in urban metropolis. I used to walk by this place a few years ago when I was living in Ferrol. It just poped up in my mind when reading the call for papers for the session “Understanding Social and Physical Disorder in the Urban Metropolis” within the International Sociological Association held in Japan past July. The session description suggests that this kind of disorders may be caused by different reasons.

That disorder is not reducible to objective measurements of crime or social problems. While the presence of disorder can signal that an area is vulnerable, triggering the exodus of residents and businesses, in other neighbourhoods disorder can represent diversity and a cultural edginess.

In this case, it seems rather obvious that the social and physical disorder responds more to the second option, i.e. it is a signal that the area is vulnerable, triggering the exodus of residents and businesses. Ferrol is a shipyard city that has been suffering from shrinkage since the economic restructuring in the 80′, as well as certain incapacity to face the crisis in certain years.
Furthermore, the specific pictures that I uploaded refer to a very specific location within the old town. According to my informants, this area used to hold high prostitution activity during the boom experienced by the city in the shipbuilding industry in previous decades.