The New York Times has a new installment in its "Age of Riches" series examining the effects of the growing concentration of wealth in our society. This story is about the diverging fortunes of Yale University and the city of New Haven, CT. In many ways the same story could have been written about Harvard and its neighbors, though there are also key differences.
Most of Harvard's land in Allston & Brighton continue to sit empty or underused. But in New Haven, Yale "employs two people full time to recruit boutique retailers in New York and Boston as tenants on spruced-up streets" and "biotech start-ups, restaurants and stores now occupy Yale-owned buildings."
Like Harvard is the only major corporation here, "There are no corporate citizens left in New Haven except Yale,” Mr. Levin, the university president, said. And New Haven, with limited state and federal help, is languishing while it tries to move forward with transportation improvements to its airport, commuter rail, and bridges.
Yale is helping with smaller things - "$10 million to repair bridges, streets, lights and sidewalks in the neighborhood", but that is hardly enough to move forward major infrastructure projects and isn't much compared to the $400 million annually that Yale spends on its own campus.
Yale can't be solely responsible for the future of New Haven. At the same time, the heightening contrast between the campus in the midst of a renaissance and a run-down community isn't good for either.
Private Cash Sets Agenda for Urban Infrastructure - New York Times
A Campus Builds, a City Waits (audio slide show)