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Re(de)fining the Rust Belt: assessing regional divergence in the postindustrial Mid-Monongahela River Valley

Kay, Maura (2018) Re(de)fining the Rust Belt: assessing regional divergence in the postindustrial Mid-Monongahela River Valley. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The postindustrial narrative is neither pure tragedy nor comedy, but instead a bitter irony. Municipalities that once doled out shining steel rusted over in the twenty-first century. The Monongahela River Valley, colloquially known as the Mon Valley, is a microcosm of deindustrialization’s impact. Home to municipalities with shared histories of manufacturing, the Mon Valley provides a case for determining the role the direction of economic development in the postindustrial period. Why do the conditions of the built environment vary so much between towns with shared experiences? I evaluate the economic status and development projects of fifteen small to mid-size municipalities of the Mid Monongahela Valley (MMV), in order to identify variables of success. Using a mixed methods approach consisting of content analysis, descriptive statistical analysis, and case studies grounded in interviews, I consider what makes economic development projects successful in MMV municipalities. Not only does the Mon Valley depict the physical implications of deindustrialization, but also embodies the capitalistic concept of uneven development. Doctrines of political economy help explore the relationship between former industrial spaces and the production of space. Due to MMV’s peripheral connections to Pittsburgh, I also explore the relationship between political economy and regionalism. Previous literature links the condition of lower valley towns to Pittsburgh’s renaissance, but many questions remain about the spatio-temporal relationship of the MMV. The elasticity of Pittsburgh’s metropolitan umbrella is contested by disaggregate narratives of the MMV. I find that the MMV’s regional identification is fluid and interacts with postindustrial political economy. While there is evidence of divergence in the MMV today, the next steps of economic development remains in question.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kay, Mauramck55@pitt.edumck55
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGlass,
Committee MemberChase,
Committee MemberCarson,
Date: 8 August 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 July 2018
Approval Date: 8 August 2018
Submission Date: 6 August 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 191
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Urban Studies
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: rust belt, deindustrialization, monongahela river valley,
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2018 12:55
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2018 12:55


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