Cincinnati's mass transit, New York City's High Line-here, we look to other cities for transformation inspiration.

Mass Transit

We need look only about 100 miles south for this example: Cincinnati's 3.6-mile streetcar loop is under construction and is expected to open to passengers in September 2016. The idea was first proposed in 2007 and met opposition along the way, but the project won voter and city council support on a narrative that streetcars will revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs. The $148 million project is being paid for with a mix of federal grants, city tax revenue and private funding. -Kristen Schmidt

Design & Architecture

New York City's High Line is a darling of advocates of good design, public-private partnerships and innovative public space. In 1999, two neighborhood residents formed Friends of the High Line to advocate preserving a 23-block stretch of defunct commercial train tracks perched above the Lower West Side of Manhattan. Today, the High Line is an enormously popular public park lined with a walkway, green space and public art. And it's had the echo effect of spurring development in surrounding neighborhoods. -Kristen Schmidt

Downtown Revival

Despite its reputation for glitz and glamour, downtown Los Angeles was a ghost town for the latter half of the 20th century. Not so today. Thanks to the city-backed Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which incentivized the conversion of historic, vacant structures to housing units, and the creation of a $3 billion sports and entertainment district, downtown LA's population has nearly tripled in the last 15 years. -Jenny Rogers

Education Reform

In 2011, more than 1,000 families applied to be transferred from Orange County Public Schools, a "failing" school district in Orlando, Florida. But in September 2014, the district won a Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes school districts for academic improvement and reducing poor and minority student-achievement gaps. In that time, the district raised its graduation rate from 50 to 87 percent and built more magnet schools and smaller neighborhood schools. -Emily Thompson