Decaying at the core: Urban decline in Cleveland, 1915–1980

Research in Economic History

ISBN: 978-0-76230-993-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-194-1

ISSN: 0363-3268

Publication date: 15 January 2003


In this essay I use the Mills-Muth monocentric model to examine the impact of urban decay on land values in Cleveland, Ohio. Using the bid-rent surfaces generated from the estimation of the Mills-Muth model, I calculate aggregate assessed land values for the entire city of Cleveland as well as for several of its neighborhoods. My analysis confirms the story told by historians: Cleveland experienced severe urban decay after World War II. However, while land values fell precipitously between 1950 and 1980, most of the decline occurred during the 1970s. The magnitude and the timing of the decline in land values during the early 1970s are difficult to explain, but my results challenge Cleveland historian Robert Whipple Green's assertion that dramatic demographic changes in Cleveland's East Side neighborhoods caused these neighborhoods to decay.


Smith, F.H. (2003), "Decaying at the core: Urban decline in Cleveland, 1915–1980", Research in Economic History (Research in Economic History, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 135-184.

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