(My mother's favorite theater.)The other day, when I first wrote about Lynn, I said that it was suffering from an identity crisis. Since the 1970s, that's probably true. As its industrial base at the GE and other factories declined, Lynn had little to replace it. Furthermore, Lynn was no longer its own metropolitan area. There was easy access to Boston, be it either through the Lynnway and into Revere or a series of commuter rails running through the North Shore (including a stop in Lynn). Whereas people before used to work in Lynn, now many more commuted to Boston. Whereas people used to shop in Downtown Lynn, now they shop in Peabody, Saugus and Danvers.
That said, I sense a real identity starting to form. Young professionals are moving into Lynn, a lot of them in and around the old Downtown area. Newly renovated, large and beautiful lofts can be had for sometimes half the price as something in Southie or elsewhere. People who are hardworking, but just can't afford the crazy prices things are going for, are finding cities like Lynn and Salem appealing. There's some hope for Lynn.
(You too could own a loft like the above in Lynn - really, it's from Lynn!)
However, hope isn't enough. Lynn (and other cities like it) has to take its new potential and turn it into jobs. They need to create jobs that some of these people moving into these cities may just want, as opposed to having to commute. It will foster an environment that will bring new commuters into these cities looking for jobs. It will foster an environment that will lead to new business environments that can support restaurants, little shops and artsy things that are culturally unique to the city they're in.
What Lynn and other cities are missing are their hearts. Most of them were punctured by job loss and destruction of their Downtowns. Cities will never be as they were. However, there's no reason that something new can't form that both reflects on the old and builds on it. Maybe there won't be a half dozen department stores in Lynn ever again, but that doesn't mean there won't be something better - be it an art gallery or new .com.