The Transforming Industrial Heartland

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This video program features two case studies on Europe: Liverpool: A Tale of Two Cities and Randstad: Preserving the Green Heart. The city of Liverpool in England and the metropolitan region of the Randstad in the Netherlands are tied together by the common themes of modernization, transportation, and trade as well as quality of life issues.

Liverpool: A Tale of Two Cities examines the rise, fall, and revival of the port city of Liverpool, which was originally settled in 1207 in northwestern England after King John granted a charter for a new planned town on the shore of the Mersey Estuary. The city developed during the mid-seventeenth century as the main port linking England with Ireland. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the port handled colonial trade, and during the Industrial Revolution it served the nearby manufacturing complex that was based in Manchester.

Now an industrial city itself, Liverpool's city center is three miles (five kilometers) from the Irish Sea, but its docks extend for five miles (eight kilometers) northward along the flat coast. By the 1970s, the port began to lose business because it lacked modern equipment that would speed the loading and unloading of goods. When Liverpool's docks were modernized and containerized cargo became predominant, many stevedores who had worked the docks became unemployed.

The update to this case study features a wealth of new footage of the Liverpool area including a new interview with our original geographer, Dr. Peter Lloyd, as well as several interviews with local residents. We explore Liverpool's revitalized downtown and dockside, it's emergence as a locus of new technology and service industries, and the continuing struggle of the residents in the working class communities surrounding Liverpool.

Randstad: Preserving the Green Heart discusses the Randstad megalopolis, which is anchored by three cities -- Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague -- that together form the cornerstone of the Netherlands' core area. The Randstad conurbation and its coalescence has created a ring-shaped complex that surrounds a still-rural center. The literal translation of rand is edge or margin; stad means city. A more precise labeling of the conurbation, however, would be Randstad-Holland, because Holland (meaning "hollow land") refers specifically to the Dutch heartland that faces the North Sea in these lowest-lying western provinces of the Netherlands.

The original case study shows how residents and farmers are attempting to preserve the region's remaining "green" character in the face of development. Currently, the government backs a plan to develop high-speed rail access to Schiphol Airport from Rotterdam, and the most efficient route cuts right through the rural heart of the Randstad. The people of the Randstad see the need for a link with the rest of Europe via Rotterdam, but those interviewed also believe this area needs to be preserved. The government sees no way to both bypass the green heart and maintain Schiphol's comparative advantage as a transportation center that provides both air and land access to greater Europe.

Find additional resources, including primary source materials, interactives, and downloadable print materials, at:

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