Chicago and Toronto are in pretty good shape relative to their Rust Belt neighbours. As far as I can tell from the Wikipedia numbers, the urban agglomerations on the south shore of Lake Michigan and the west shore of Lake Ontario are by far the most populous in the Rust Belt. The relative prosperity of Chicago and Toronto may in part be due to their critical mass which allows them to function independent of their surroundings.
Smaller cities like Cleveland struggle in isolation because they are not as self-sustaining. The only physical connections between Rust Belt cities and beyond are expensive airplane tickets or interminably long journeys by road.
The upcoming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania had drawn some attention to the contrast between Philadelphia in the east and Pittsburgh in the west. Ryan Avent asks, why is eastern Pennsylvania so much more prosperous than the west? His answer, after the break. Continue reading