At the close of the Civil War, the industrial hub of Elmira, NY began to pioneer a new model of economic development: they opened a reformatory. The model served them well. In the twentieth century, nineteenth-century industry collapsed around Elmira in Albany, NY and Pittsburgh, PA. Elmira, however, survived, even flourished, thanks to a constant stream of prison-based revenue.
150 years later, what does an experiment in prison-based development look like? Is it actually a healthy form of urbanism? In Rust Belt Tour '09, scholar Jo Guldi and activist Simon Strikeback traveled the landscape between Flint, Michigan and Holyoke, Massachusetts, documenting the foreclosures, arsons, vacant lots, anarchist squats, community gardens, and revitalization projects across eleven cities.