The AP must have picked up on our conversation here about shrinking cities and the otherworldly beauty of desolated urban landscapes. They have a profile and photo essay of the desolate communities found in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Buffalo, NY, and Flint, MI. Cincinnati is following Baltimore, MD in its effort to transform abandon row homes into luxury condominiums. Flint is looking at demolishing existing homes and engineering a smaller, more manageable city. In Buffalo it seems that residents are trying to manage the best they can.
It is not clear what should be done with urban areas eviscerated by white flight, suburbanism, and the decline of the automobile industry. Local governments should resist the urge to squeeze out the urban poor in favor of yuppies seeking a trendy row house, but what of sprawling suburban areas where wood-frame houses have not held up? Should they be slated for the bulldozer as the row homes previously were?
It seems as if the conversation has finally been brought to the fore by the current housing crisis. Perhaps today’s urbanism will also bring about a synthesis of the need for affordable housing and urban renewal. If not, there certainly will be more neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine as industries rise and fall and economies boom and bust.
(For contrast, the recent list of the nation’s wealthiest communities— suburbs all.)
-Michael E. van Landingham