The American geography of prosperity has been driven by two big narratives in the past few years. On the one hand, there's Detroit, with its $18 billion in debt, pension mess, and population loss. On the other, there's Brooklyn, with its rocketing real estate prices, hip-luxe condos, and freshly foraged food stores. But what's next for this Tale of Two Cities muni-drama? Our bets for 2014's breakout and breakdown towns.
Cleveland. The city (above) is in the midst of a downtown revival that has seen not one, not two, but three Williamsburg-esque neighborhoods emerge: Tremont, Ohio City, and Gordon Square. Odds: 63%
Louisville. A thriving indie music scene, food trucks galore, and a monthly flea market (that seems "like Etsy came to life," according to Yelp) now fill this blue dot in a red state. Odds: 91%
Detroit. College-educated settlers under 35 are drawn to sub-$1,000 rents and the chance to be pioneers. A telltale sign of change: NO HIPSTER graffiti tags showing up around town. Odds: 39%
Runners-up: Chattanooga; Newark
Woonsocket, R.I. The onetime prominent textile hub fell victim to deindustrialization, then the recession, then severe cuts from state aid. Unemployment is now 10%. Odds: 38%
Puerto Rico. The public debt of this commonwealth is $70 billion, unemployment (at 14.7%) is higher than in any U.S. state, and labor force participation (at 41%) is the lowest. Odds: 54%
Fresno. The central California agricultural hub has little cash on hand, an ongoing gang issue, and a five-year foreclosure rate of 94.5 per 1,000 households, according to Metrostudy. Odds: 86%
Runners-up: Atlantic City; Gary, Ind.