Thursday, April 20, 2006

While you were sleeping . . .

. . . .people keep moving out of urban areas, much to the chagrin of city-slickers.

Traditional urbanists guilt civic leaders and politicians into spending millions of tax-payer dollars on deteriorating downtown cores. As we spend more and more money on designing and building places and infrastructures that are, sad to say, beyond hope, we spend less time, money, and attention to the places that are actually growing, like the sprawling exurbs.

Is is better to try to resuscitate a corpse, like the Euclid Corridor project in Cleveland, or invest in smart planning, design, and space allocations to create more livable communities out in Lorain, Medina, and Geauga Counties?

As Joel Garreau discusses in Edge Cities and David Brooks posits in On Paradise Drive, the enterprise of American commercial, educational, and soon cultural, dynamism is occurring on the peripheries of our metropolitan areas. Maybe that is where architects and urban designers should be spending their intellectual time and energy.


Bradley said...

Why invest in "smart planning, design, and space allocations" and encourage the commercial, educational, and cultural migration to the periphery when we already have a multitude of urban areas that have those livable densities and characteristics?

This supports a slash-and-burn precedent in which continual migration leaves behind a scorched earth for a new "paradise." A lack of multi-generational settling results in an absense of civic responsibility, loyalty and pride and supports the Post-Industrial throw away society that we've become. Today's fringe becomes tomorrow's wasteland.

Also, this sets a dangerous social precedent of further insulating and isolating a specific priviledged social and economic class of people and further condemning a less-priveledged class from rising to self-made success as the opportunity to do such have moved out to Eden somewhere. The highway to paradise has become the blinders for one class of people to ignore the social inequalities around them.

These cities that are "beyond hope" are only such because we choose to declare them so.

Your Editor said...

I agree with Bradley. Without a healthy Cleveland, there's no reason for anyone to live in Lorain, Medina and Geauga counties.

I don't see why we would throw away all hope for Euclid Ave. It was a great boulevard once, and can be again. Let's not forget that many great neighborhoods in many great cities have seen hard times only to bounce back thanks to some civic attention but mostly individual investments. See: The Federail HIll, Locust Point, Canton and Fells Point neighborhoods in Baltimore; Northern Liberties, Queen Village and Grad Hospital Area in Philly; and even the Warehouse District of today in Cleveland.

If there is money to be spent, it should be spent on Cleveland--it's the city that matters in NE Ohio. Everything else revolves around its health.

But we cannot assume that the city or the county will get the job done. More than anything, Cleveland needs people who are living outside the city to take some risks and buy IN the city, reviving old housing stock, drawing entrepreneurs and new busiensses and bolstering the tax base. Civic renewal does not occur from the top down. It grows from the bottom up.