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Old 06-10-2020, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Baltimore
7,509 posts, read 3,057,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdovell View Post
Dead wrong. Rural America as in rural areas in all of the US have been in a 50 year decline.

Why?

First of all on a logic basis rural areas try to restrict development. They don't plan for growth as ultimately it means moving wider (suburbs) or taller (cities). Outside of a university campus you don't see buildings that are that tall. Look at UMass Amherst. Look at the Storrs Center for the CT equivalency...same thing.

So if you don't grow in population the population then gradually gets older. This increases demands for health care and transit. This is another reason why proximity to major cities with healthcare can be a factor in retiring.

Second is businesses generally don't want to go to places that aren't growing. Yes "Riches are in the niches" I get that but it doesn't make up for the face that if you don't comp, that is to say make more than last year (ie. any growth) it's hard to justify operations. Yes some businesses operate at an initial loss but many small businesses can't forecast longer than a few seasons due to the weather and general seasonality. So a towns has what..one coffee shop? One supermarket?

Third is media depiction is frankly bad. The baby boomers grew up with tv shows that showed much of rural life...until the early 70s. This was a REAL thing in the tv industry
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_purge
Let's not forget The Simple Life and general stereotypes that currently exist. That rural Americans are generally uneducated, racist, predominately white and poor i.e the term "deplorables" and no I didn't vote for her either. To note the Berkshire Record closed down and the Berkshire Eagle might not have enough PPP funds to last to July. Less people means less ads and less revenue.

Fourth is that it is much harder to develop a rural area then to redevelop a suburban or urban area. Water lines, sewer lines, electrical, natural gas, broadband service, cell coverage etc. Much of this is population driven based on per capita, not wealth. Bill Gates might have 10,000 times the amount of money the average american has (I'm just making an argument) but he doesn't use 10,000 times the electricity or water.

Fifth is the selling points have changed. It's a hard argument for privacy in a era of social media. "Let me be" doesn't make sense if someone is posting about what they are doing to the general public every day.

I get it some like to go outside and go camping or biking etc. But for the most part that's a day trip and that might not put that much money into the community. Here's a test. If a place really is rural ask the town who is the town forester or aborist. Now if they say they don't have one then that means there's really no maintenance to the "woods". You have to maintain forests and parks. If there's an evasive plant disease and it wipes out an area (ie. Worcester long horn beetle https://www.telegram.com/news/201808...with-diversity)

I know people can try to counter arguments by saying it's an experience. I get that as well but many places are competing for experiences. Maybe it's a man made rock climbing center or ax throwing. I know suburban areas that have horseback riding lessons, cities with urban gardens and chickens. One place that really impressed me is 180 park. https://www.mill180park.com

Communities can age out. It gets to the point where businesses don't want to really come in. For example on the cape the largest growing industry is life insurance and estate planning.

Generally speaking good places have people that want to be there driving up prices and population. When you see a steady decline over decades of an area it goes the other way. Sure sometimes people cling to areas and I get that and it can attract retirees based on the fact that CT taxes public pensions. As the schools close, shops close fewer births, less immigration etc.

https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/r...e6d18c84f.html

"The report by Forward Analytics, the research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association, found natural decline — when there are more deaths than births — accounted for more than half the loss in the 31 rural counties where population declined between 2010 and 2018.

Nationwide, 92% of rural population decline was a result of net migration — more people moving out of rural counties than moving in."

So if the birth rate somehow stabilizes they'll still leave.
Excellent description. What people don’t realize is although they like these areas, they don’t appeal to the vast majority of people-to visit or live in. Yea it gets visitors but that’s a tiny portion of America that even knows what the Berkshires is. You’ve got to be able to look at this outside of the Massachusetts educated bubble and think pragmatically about its future at mdovelll outlines.
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Old 06-10-2020, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Baltimore
7,509 posts, read 3,057,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tovarisch View Post
I was in Pittsfield yesterday. No one killed me. Nice views at the lakes and in some of the western parts of the city. Considering COVID and all, North St. (which is the main street) looked OK. Try not to submit to alarmism.
No ones doing alarmism.

You just said “I went to Pittsfield and no one killed me, there were some nice views of lakes.”

Not exactly a sell.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:33 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 4,801,500 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G1.. View Post
After all your hot air you still never explained your "over fifty years" remark? In 1970 Pittsfield was thriving ,I was there so for you to spout BS is comical.
Because the blame of the decline of the Berkshires was largely put on GE gradually shutting down in the 1980's. It happened prior to that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berksh..._Massachusetts

A decrease of 2.9% from 1970 to 1980.

Ok what about Pittsfield itself (I'm not saying Pittsfield is rural but it obviously is the most populated entity there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsfield,_Massachusetts

Well it started declining in the 1960s.
From 1960 to 1970 1.5%...ok big deal 1.5%
From 1970 to 1980 8.8%! That's a huge drop

I'm not anti GE. I'm well aware that there are plenty of people that worked there. By any measure it has a gigantic impact but the speed of it really went up in the 1980's. I'm not a manufacturing expert or historian in this but given the numbers I would argue it probably was one of the largest factories in the country, certainly one of the largest in New England. These days we don't see nearly the same amount due to automation and outsourcing.
https://www.masslive.com/politics/20..._electric.html

"By the 1980s and early 1990s, GE was shedding workers rapidly in Pittsfield. It closed its transformer division in 1986, eliminating 2,000 jobs, according to a 1988 story in The Republican. GE cut back its ordnance division in 1989, eliminating another 900 positions. In 1990, shrinking federal government defense spending and GE's closure of its electric power equipment manufacturing division due to shrinking markets cost the company another 1,000 jobs. By 1992, between layoffs and the sale of its aerospace division, GE Plastics was the only GE business left in Pittsfield, with 530 employees, the Berkshire Eagle reported."

All I'm saying is GE can't really be to blame for everything. They poured gas on the fire but they did not actually start the fire. Again people have no issue visiting rural areas but they then go home. You can fish in suburbs, farm in cities and ride bikes many places now. Oddly if you look across to Columbia County NY and Rensselaer County NY they haven't really gained or dropped in population. Berkshire county has from peak about 16%. It is a odd thing to say the area is special but it isn't really connected to VT (Pioneer valley is via 91) it isn't really connected to CT (again pioneer valley is via 91). So it is more connected to NY and Albany and yet the divide is quite significant in terms of growth. Maybe the region wasn't planned well but there's no escaping the decline in general population, jobs and students adds up.

I don't care if it's a town, a company or a non profit but once you start seeing your numbers go down operations becomes much harder the longer and deeper they are down. Time is not your friend at that point.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Baltimore
7,509 posts, read 3,057,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdovell View Post
Because the blame of the decline of the Berkshires was largely put on GE gradually shutting down in the 1980's. It happened prior to that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berksh..._Massachusetts

A decrease of 2.9% from 1970 to 1980.

Ok what about Pittsfield itself (I'm not saying Pittsfield is rural but it obviously is the most populated entity there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsfield,_Massachusetts

Well it started declining in the 1960s.
From 1960 to 1970 1.5%...ok big deal 1.5%
From 1970 to 1980 8.8%! That's a huge drop

I'm not anti GE. I'm well aware that there are plenty of people that worked there. By any measure it has a gigantic impact but the speed of it really went up in the 1980's. I'm not a manufacturing expert or historian in this but given the numbers I would argue it probably was one of the largest factories in the country, certainly one of the largest in New England. These days we don't see nearly the same amount due to automation and outsourcing.
https://www.masslive.com/politics/20..._electric.html

"By the 1980s and early 1990s, GE was shedding workers rapidly in Pittsfield. It closed its transformer division in 1986, eliminating 2,000 jobs, according to a 1988 story in The Republican. GE cut back its ordnance division in 1989, eliminating another 900 positions. In 1990, shrinking federal government defense spending and GE's closure of its electric power equipment manufacturing division due to shrinking markets cost the company another 1,000 jobs. By 1992, between layoffs and the sale of its aerospace division, GE Plastics was the only GE business left in Pittsfield, with 530 employees, the Berkshire Eagle reported."

All I'm saying is GE can't really be to blame for everything. They poured gas on the fire but they did not actually start the fire. Again people have no issue visiting rural areas but they then go home. You can fish in suburbs, farm in cities and ride bikes many places now. Oddly if you look across to Columbia County NY and Rensselaer County NY they haven't really gained or dropped in population. Berkshire county has from peak about 16%. It is a odd thing to say the area is special but it isn't really connected to VT (Pioneer valley is via 91) it isn't really connected to CT (again pioneer valley is via 91). So it is more connected to NY and Albany and yet the divide is quite significant in terms of growth. Maybe the region wasn't planned well but there's no escaping the decline in general population, jobs and students adds up.

I don't care if it's a town, a company or a non profit but once you start seeing your numbers go down operations becomes much harder the longer and deeper they are down. Time is not your friend at that point.
I think you see a lack of growth in the Berkshires because it positioned itself as a ‘vacationland’ and relished being sparsely populated and isolated-it still does. Anything that may have made life easier or more interesting to permanent residents seems secondary to tourism. Especially if making it would impact aesthetics.
or tradition. It seems like it’s willfully stuck in time.
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Old 06-10-2020, 10:12 AM
 
Location: North Quabbin, MA
901 posts, read 1,118,542 times
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Pittsfield, Adams, and North Adams seem to be the Berkshires exceptions where a density of non-vacation folks reside. These postindustrial cities at least have the old bones for re-growth. However they are isolated more from the wider world than say the Pioneer Valley so it will be a while.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Baltimore
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Is greenfield the Berkshires?
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Old 06-10-2020, 12:58 PM
 
2,111 posts, read 3,789,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBornMassMade View Post
Is greenfield the Berkshires?
Nope. Pioneer Valley/Connecticut Valley.

"The Berkshires" is an interesting term when you think about it, one that implies mountains instead of a valley. There's the real geological phenomenon of the Berkshire Plateau-- a region of high ground cut by valleys. There are the Taconic Mountains on the New York State line-- Alander Mtn, Mt Race, Mt Everett. The Hoosac range includes Mt Greylock. When people talk about places like Stockbridge and Lenox being "the Berkshires" they're referring to a relatively low-lying valley between the Taconics and the Berkshire Plateau.
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Old 06-10-2020, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Baltimore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
Nope. Pioneer Valley/Connecticut Valley.

"The Berkshires" is an interesting term when you think about it, one that implies mountains instead of a valley. There's the real geological phenomenon of the Berkshire Plateau-- a region of high ground cut by valleys. There are the Taconic Mountains on the New York State line-- Alander Mtn, Mt Race, Mt Everett. The Hoosac range includes Mt Greylock. When people talk about places like Stockbridge and Lenox being "the Berkshires" they're referring to a relatively low-lying valley between the Taconics and the Berkshire Plateau.
Oh right I do remember greenfield being on i-91
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Old 06-10-2020, 02:00 PM
 
12,117 posts, read 9,518,251 times
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Looking at the map, Pittsfield sure got screwed when the Mass Pike was constructed as did Worcester. The road logically would track roughly the path of Rte. 9, through Worcester passing the southern tip of the Quabbin, through Amherst and Northampton then onto Pittsfield and Albany. Not sure the reasoning for why it followed the crazy southern route that is does (effectively being essentially useless to so much of the western half of the state), but who knows how history would have been altered by that...
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Old 06-10-2020, 02:58 PM
 
Location: stuck in the woods with bears and moose
22,327 posts, read 21,421,279 times
Reputation: 39642
Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBornMassMade View Post
I think you see a lack of growth in the Berkshires because it positioned itself as a ‘vacationland’ and relished being sparsely populated and isolated-it still does. Anything that may have made life easier or more interesting to permanent residents seems secondary to tourism. Especially if making it would impact aesthetics.
or tradition. It seems like it’s willfully stuck in time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBornMassMade View Post
Is greenfield the Berkshires?
Thanks, you practically made me choke on my ice cream! That is cute though and it's a perfectly good question. (hard to stop laughing though.)

In MA we have the MIGHTY Connecticut River. Most of the cities and towns that are or were prosperous were located next to the river in its valley. That's called the Connecticut River Valley or, for tourist purposes, the Pioneer Valley--one portion is called that.

North to south--Greenfield is to the north, was a pretty depressed area but I think it used to be pretty good back when Greenfield Tap and Die was a big employer. Then it went downhill but later it attracted some hippie types and people who couldn't afford to live anywhere else. I don't know how it is now.

South of Greenfield you get scenic towns like Deerfield and Hatfield, which are mostly rural-somewhat suburban places. Next is Northampton which everyone seems to know about. Amherst is across the Connecticut River.

Then, continuing south, you get a rare horizontal (E-W) mountain range called the Holyoke Range and once you cross that, there's Springfield.

Below Springfield is Hartford, CT, still in the Connecticut River Valley. The Connecticut River goes though CT and into the sea at Old Saybrook, CT.

Places like Pittsfield and North Adams never positioned themselves as "vacationland", not that I know of. They were manufacturing towns, mill towns. Even those of us from the CT River Valley/Pioneer Valley hardly ever went out there. We knew as much about it as you know about Greenfield. They were just towns somewhere out in the Berkshires (Berkshire mountains.) There's a great explanation in another post about the fancy tourist towns out there--of which I know slightly better than I know Pittsfield or North Adams because they are touristy. But we who come from WMass don't even know too much about those touristy towns except how to get to Tanglewood or what restaurant to eat at--because that's all we would go out there for. The Berkshires in general, seem remote.
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