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Old 11-11-2007, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,109 posts, read 67,227,047 times
Reputation: 15763

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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA has it twice as bad as Upstate New York, George. Trust me on that one. Between 1970-1990, our MSA expanded its land usage by 20 square miles while its population declined by tens of thousands. I have yet to see the statistics for the timeframe of 1990-2010, but I'd suspect that they'll be even worse, as our population has continued to decline (although much slower than from 1970-1990 due to the recent NYC-related growth) while land usage has SPIKED. Thousands upon thousands of acres have been lost since 1990 in our area for strip malls, big-box stores, McMansions, etc., and even though I'm going to welcome the NY/NJ transplants who start moving into our metro area (likely from 2010 onwards), I'm going to get down on my knees and BEG them to consider purchasing an existing home in an established neighborhood over the sprawling nightmare we now have.

Here are a few photos of what happens when we permit urban cores to bleed their upper-middle-class taxpayers into exurban frontiers:






Here are just a sampling of the images I have snapped of Downtown Pittston, PA, with a population of just 7,000, down from a peak of 21,000. The city has become such a dump that three beautiful Roman Catholic churches will soon be closing their doors, our town's parochial high school shuttered its doors earlier this year, all of the town's parochial elementary schools closed, and a violent double-shooting resulting in a fatality just happened a few weeks ago. This city truly has become an armpit due to the mass exodus of the middle-class into the "trendier" suburban areas, which are growing uncontrollably. I don't yet have any photos of Pittston's immediate suburbs, but I do have these images to show some of the sprawl that has truly taken its toll on both Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.





















As you would also notice, our area's obesity epidemic is only being compounded by the fact that NOTHING is within walking distance. I saw a bumper sticker on my campus the other day that truly made me smile: "Suburbs: Where they tear down the trees and name the streets after them." Sadly, most locals are just too uneducated to "get it," even as oil prices soar to record levels. Lemmings, lemmings, lemmings...



Urban sprawl also creates many tensions. Both of these images were snapped in the tiny borough of Moscow, PA, which is being surrounded by massive planned communities as it is put in a "squeeze-play" of sorts, serving as a new southern suburb of Scranton and on the verge of being absorbed into the Pocono sprawl. The decision to build a new high school has been opposed by longtime residents who resent having to pay higher taxes to fund new infrastructure to accomodate the population influx. The increase in traffic has also led to many speeding issues throughout this rural hamlet that is rapidly becoming a suburb.

You can all take your "established walkable neighborhoods are icky" mentalities and shove 'em!
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:35 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 23 hours ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,903 posts, read 102,364,631 times
Reputation: 32967
OK, I'm about to lock horns with my buddy ScrantonWilkesBarre again!

First, I'm not sure the first few pictures are the effect of urban sprawl on the city or the cause of it. After all, those did not look like pleasant neighborhoods to live in. It is no wonder someone would choose to go elsewhere.

Second, many of these neighborhoods in the later pictures do no particlularly look like "sprawl" to me. The homes seem fairly close together.

Third, calling people "lemmings, lemmings, lemmings" is not very likely to convince them to change their minds. It is condescending and insulting.

Four a: The jury is out over whether there really is an "obesity epidemic". I can say this with some credibility as a public health professional.
Four b: There is much evidence that the obestiy problem is greatest in the inner cities.

Five:
Quote:
The decision to build a new high school has been opposed by longtime residents who resent having to pay higher taxes to fund new infrastructure to accomodate the population influx.
This is hardly original, nor is it confined to the suburbs. Where do these "longtime residents" (meaning: "I'm here, let's lock the gates") expect these kids, who presumably are already there, to get educated? Would they prefer they not be educated at all? Paying for schools is a civic obligation. Someone paid for their kids' schools, too.

Quote:
You can all take your "established walkable neighborhoods are icky" mentalities and shove 'em!
Again, you are not going to influence anyone to change their opinion if you talk to them like that!
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:42 PM
 
322 posts, read 220,382 times
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Looks like urban sprawl to me. Good pics swb!

How do those neighborhoods look bad. They look like the center city of town that are now desolate as suburbinites flee to the suburbs for target and two car garage mcmansions. I don't see how those housing plans don't look like urban sprawl communities. They are the most urban sprawl communities we have. There are not even any sidewalks!

SWB you and I seem to be the only few non suburbinite fans on this board.
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,109 posts, read 67,227,047 times
Reputation: 15763
Well you're incorrect in your assessment about the ghetto photos of Pittston, PA. This community was a great place to live until greedy housing developers began subdividing parcels of land on the hillsides surrounding town for residential development. This came shortly after a new four-lane bypass was built around the town. People began leaving town for more elbow room in the suburbs, and their newfound independence using their beloved automobiles meant that they would never again have to rely on Main Street merchants in Pittston for their needs and services. As more and more people moved out of Pittston, downtown businesses continued to falter due to the decreasing customer base. Thanks to this unchecked sprawl the city is now not only at 1/3 of its peak population, but its downtown is lucky to have 1/3 of the businesses it had in its heyday as well. Subdivisions here have no sidewalks and are NOT located in mixed-use areas where people can walk to workplaces, businesses, houses of worship, parks, etc. Want a loaf of bread in Pittston? Walk to the grocery store. Want a loaf of bread in the suburbs? Haul your rear-end into your SUV. The mass abandonment of Downtown Pittston was a DIRECT result of urban sprawl associated with the new Pittston Bypass. A new mall was built out in the suburbs in the late-1960s that siphoned economic vitality out of the downtown. Ironically, that same corridor itself is now dying as it is devoured by "new sprawl" in the way of big-box retailers on Highway 315. More trees are falling to make way for "progress" why this old sprawl area and traditional Main Street setting are both kicking the bucket. Please explain to me how wasting vast swaths of land is excusable?

Furthermore, all of these subdivisions I've photographed are not located within walking distance to anything, hence increasing our nation's dependency upon foreign oil. While people in Pittston, Scranton, or Wilkes-Barre could walk to banks, pharmacies, churches, restaurants, schools, parks, etc., residents of our suburbs must drive to access all of these amenities (there's a reason why our traffic congestion in the MSA continues to worsen).

I'm a proud anti-suburban militant, and I will continue to be until someone can justify to me how it is good for our eco-system to permit thousands of existing homes to sit vacant in our established, safe, core communities in favor of downing new trees in the suburbs.

You live in Colorado, so with all due respect you can't appreciate just how severe the sprawl epidemic has become in Northeastern PA. While some sprawl is to be expected in Denver with its rapidly-exploding population in both the city and suburbs, where is the justification for all of this excess land usage in an area that is declining overall in population? All we're doing in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is picking up a dwindling population and spreading it further and further away from existing infrastructure, causing our cities to become abandoned in the process. Please explain to me how this is beneficial and sustainable in the long-term?

As much as this forum may indeed not be "City"-Data but "Suburban"-Data by the fact that 99.9% of the people on here are moving to the suburbs, some of us want to try to be socially-responsible so that our offspring can live in a better world. Inner suburbs with sidewalks and mixed-use zoning are fine, but I'll continue to be a skeptic on these newer, "boom-town" types of suburbs and just how they're supposed to be of "benefit" to their host cities? If anything, they just serve as parasites to siphon economic vitality out of them.
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:02 PM
 
322 posts, read 220,382 times
Reputation: 24
I tried to give you another positive rep point in everything you said swb, but it says I got to pass it around first.

I believe 100% of everything you said in your post. I couldn't of said it half as good. GOod job!
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,109 posts, read 67,227,047 times
Reputation: 15763
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagger Lee View Post
Looks like urban sprawl to me. Good pics swb!

How do those neighborhoods look bad. They look like the center city of town that are now desolate as suburbinites flee to the suburbs for target and two car garage mcmansions. I don't see how those housing plans don't look like urban sprawl communities. They are the most urban sprawl communities we have. There are not even any sidewalks!

SWB you and I seem to be the only few non suburbinite fans on this board.
I'm sorry to come off as a condascending pr*ck, but if being nasty and uppity is the only way to get through to some of these people, then so be it. I have honestly cried to see what urban sprawl has done to a lot of Eastern Pennsylvania, and as the New Yorkers and New Jerseyans continue to spread themselves westward into the Keystone State in pursuit of McMansions, things will only get worse unless local leaders start to be PRO-ACTIVE in terms of forming long-range comprehensive land usage policies, urban growth boundaries, etc. to preserve our precious yet endangered open space while directing new growth into existing neighborhoods.

For those of you who think the cities have nothing to offer for young families, let me show you a few images of just how "scary" and "undesirable" it is to live in Scranton, PA, a city that now sits at half of its heyday population due largely to urban sprawl.






These are just a few images of Nay Aug Park, which is within walking distance to thousands of residents in the city's neighborhood of "The Hill." Children can live in the neighborhood and be within walking distance along tree-lined streets of not only an elementary school, but also this great park with a small zoo, water slides, a tree house, waterfall, hiking trails, bands, an art museum, etc. Nevertheless, Scranton's population continues to decline as residents move out to the suburbs. Why? Residents here are also within a mile's walk of Center City with its restaurants, bars, nightlife, shops, coffee houses, library, cultural center, movie theater, downtown shopping mall, etc., as well as being near three hospitals and several institutions of higher learning, including a major university and an upcoming medical college. Housing prices here are comparable to the suburbs, yet you save a great deal in stress and aggravation by not having to drive everywhere all the time and locate parking.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:19 PM
 
1,446 posts, read 4,498,494 times
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The assumption that people who live this way lack intelligence or are just ignorant lemmings is way off the mark. That is not the issue. People generally know this is not good for the environment and they just don't care. This is true in most of the U.S.

Knowing does not = Caring.

Your socalled liberalness is blinding your view of reality.

The American value system is what needs to be examined not a person's level of formal education.

Most people on City-Data seem to be in love with cars, suburbs, and chain stores. Not much love shown for cities, transit, and mom/pop establishments. All the begging in the world will not change people's minds. This is supply and demand and the bottom line will always be the same. You need to beg the developers and we all know how far you will get with that.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
2,806 posts, read 15,188,474 times
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I would respectfully disagree. Yes having large areas of land paved over creates problems when it rains with drains getting clogged and other types of flooding.

However on the whole very densely built towns and cities have a much smaller impact upon the environment than do the newer, post-WWII suburbs.

The reason for this is the use of euclidian zoning which basically mandates separate zoning for residential and commercial districts. As a result it becomes very difficult to walk anywhere and the population becomes heavily dependent upon their automobiles, which not only is harmful to the environment but also just costs a lot of money (because you are burning gas to drive to the store whereas prior to WWII people would have just walked to the local corner stores in their towns).

The trend nowadays is towards larger houses and bigger sized lots than were used in the past. As a result more construction materials need to be used to build these new larger houses. Subsequently more electricity,and gas/oil will be used to heat and cool the house since the suburban homes being built today are invariably larger than they were in the past.

As a result the carbon footprint of your average suburbanite is more than double of someone who lives in an urban area. This is mostly because apartments/condos/townhouses in cities tend to be smaller and therefore require less enegry to heat and cool. Also the density of most cities is much higher than that of the surrounding suburban areas so people can walk to their local stores instead of having to use their cars. Also public transportation is much more feasible in a densely built neighborhood, so people can rely upon trains, light rail, or buses to get to work instead of taking their cars. This results in a lot less gasoline being consumed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by normie View Post
Having a neighborhood with land surrounding each house is a lot better than having the entire surface of the neighborhood covered with concrete. I do not agree that cramming a bunch of homes together is better for the environment or for the general physical and mental health of our population. This neighborhood is clean, not full of trash. That's good for the environment, too.

Having a porch on the front of your house encourage people to be outside while it is raining or when the sun is too hot. It encourages neighbors to stop by and say hello, because they see you outside. This means people don't need to drive somewhere just to socialize. So it seems to me that a porch helps the environment, too.

Looks like a nice place to me...
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,789,718 times
Reputation: 18989
"Thousands upon thousands of acres have been lost since 1990 in our area for strip malls, big-box stores, McMansions, etc., and even though I'm going to welcome the NY/NJ transplants who start moving into our metro area (likely from 2010 onwards), I'm going to get down on my knees and BEG them to consider purchasing an existing home in an established neighborhood over the sprawling nightmare we now have. "


SWB, I appreciate your point of view but IMO you are tackling this in the wrong way. If you read through this board you will see hundreds of posts all saying the same thing: People only buy homes in neighborhoods they can afford, and in neighborhoods with low crime and good schools.

They want a place where their kids can safely play in front of the house. Kids need a certain amount of space to play. They want a place where grandpa can safely walk his dog after dark. They want a place with good schools, no trash, no graffiti, no gangs.

Focus your energy in making urban cores more affordable and safer, and you won't need to beg families to flock to the area.

If people are abandoning urban areas, there is a REASON! Find out what the reason is, and use your energy and persuasive abilities to solve the problem. A nice looking park is a good start, but I don't see any people in your photos. Why don't people feel safe enough to enjoy this pretty park? There must be a reason--find out what it is and work towards solving the problem, instead of simply ranting. Dramatic, angry accusations feel good when you write them, but they don't actually accomplish anything.

It's interesting that you think we shouldn't "permit urban cores to bleed their upper-middle-class taxpayers into exurban frontiers". Sounds like you want to pass a law forcing people to buy a house where YOU think they should live. Or maybe you want to build the Scranton version of the Berlin Wall? Just teasing--I get what you're trying to say but it might help your cause if you drop the drama and try to appreciate how other people feel and why they make the decisions they make.

If you want to change things, you need to understand why people are attracted to the suburbs in the first place. I think my story is fairly typical. There was a time I felt like you do. In my early 20's I was proud to live in the city--in fact, I was damn smug about living in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with interesting, unique neighbors. I got my car stolen once, and my apartment broken into twice but I overlooked this because I thought living in the city was cool. I was an anti-war activist back then, meeting my friends in coffee shops and bragging how you couldn't do that in the 'burbs (this was before Starbucks...)

My apartment was overpriced and had rats, roaches, and serious mold issues... but I bragged about how city living was cool because I could walk to the symphony. Then one day I realized I never actually walked to the symphony because it was dangerous to walk anywhere after dark. I only read the Sunday paper in the local park twice, because I didn't feel safe there.

I considered myself an environmentalist, so I rode a bike to work for awhile... but it wasn't practical. Then I took the bus to work for two years, finally wised up that it was NOT a good way to live. Riding the bus meant I was catching endless colds. There are a lot of unhealthy, contagious people on busses, and bus stops aren't fun to sit at when you feel like cr*p.

Then I got mugged. I was beaten up badly enough that I needed to stay with my aunt who lived in (what I thought was) the boring suburbs. I was 23. It was the best thing that ever happened to me--I moved out into the sprawl and have never looked back. I like the sprawl. I discovered that having my own yard meant I could grow my own vegetables. I began walking more than I ever did in the city. I learned how to kayak, something I do almost daily during the summer. My car insurance went down, and my car didn't get worn out from the abuse of being parked on the street (street salt is murder on cars in the winter). The young people I met were surprisingly nice--and cooler than I thought they would be. In short, I learned that life is good here.

If you want a more dramatic solution, you could also consider this option: Farmers have the right to sell their land. Griping about the rape of the countryside won't stop developers from buying the land. Organize people to donate money and buy the land yourself.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:47 PM
 
3,628 posts, read 9,200,742 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittnurse70 View Post
Well, it is all speculation. It is true that new housing is frequently built on former farmland, which already had the trees removed.
oh I know, that does happen. Then again, right as I was about to move away from suburbia, there were two to four new developments on either side of the highway that had leveled the wooded areas that were there previously. I wonder if there will be a bunch of empty houses sitting in the woods' places when i go back to Tenn. for Thanksgiving.


I'm pretty anti-suburb at this point, to tell the truth. But to each their own. Personally, i live in probably the densest neighborhood in Chicago and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I just grit my teeth every time I'm forced to go out to the 'burbs for work and try to understand what's so wonderful about places that look alike all over America with their best buys, wal marts, mcd's and chili's, that people spend hours upon hours in their cars to drive from their house to the city and back. I don't understand it, but as I said, to each their own.
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