This is a tale of three cities—Jersey City and neighboring Hoboken in New Jersey, and Evanston, Illinois – that have experienced an enormous amount of development since the late 1980s, reversing three decades of decline brought on by the great suburban exodus of the 1950s. The result is that in 2006 all three cities are prospering, posting significant increases in property values and sales taxes and other revenues due to the building boom and resulting increases in business activity. The amount of high-density development that has occurred could never have occurred this quickly if these cities did not have rich transit networks providing very high-quality connections to the abundant jobs, culture and destinations in their big city neighbors: Manhattan is across the Hudson River from Hoboken and Jersey City; Chicago and Evanston share a border.
The study that resulted in this book was initiated in September 2001 to examine how decisions about public transportation, land development and redevelopment, and historic preservation have complemented one another in dozens of communities nationwide. The goal of the study was to demonstrate how transit and historic preservation act as compatible forces to revitalize communities. We set out to illuminate the many ways in which communities of all sizes have restored their urban or suburban cores and made full use of those centers’ capacities to help metropolitan areas grow sustainably. We wanted to find out how historic preservation values are informing community planning for public transit, and how these values are being used in development decisions intended to promote transit use.