Date of Completion

Spring 5-16-2014

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dennis Heffley

Honors Major

Political Science


Growth and Development | Other Political Science | Public Policy | Urban Studies


New urbanism is a movement in city and regional planning that is primarily based upon a return to mixed-use development. New urbanists contend that reintegrating land uses to make “walkable” urban neighborhoods will help increase residential financial diversity and make once downtrodden areas desirable again. It remains unclear if physical design changes can truly impact economic and social conditions. Is mixed-use development worth pursuing for cities looking to restore economic diversity? To investigate this question, I turn to two Southern New England cities of similar population which have faced parallel struggles: Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. I analyze the histories of mixed-use downtown areas in both of these cities and assess the potential of new mixed-use developments to bring residential financial diversity to mid-sized cities in Southern New England. I conclude that there is no evidence that mixed-use development directly impacts residential financial diversity.