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Old 02-25-2014, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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I was hurried writing my last post, so I'll add another couple points on why blue-collar employment is hard to integrate into the modern city.

1. Automation has massively decreased the number of jobs in manufacturing (or related industries, like warehousing) per square foot. So you could end up with a structure taking up an entire city block, but only employing 30 people. In contrast, mixed-use development on the same site could employ/house hundreds. So if your primary goal is forming a walkable neighborhood, these types of businesses are really an impediment.

2. Although manufacturing experimented with multi-story factories with freight elevators in the early 20th century, ultimately it turned back to the idea of a single-floor workspace. Even if zoning allowed for it, it would be unwieldy and expensive to locate light manufacturing within a mixed-use office building. This adds to the issues in point one, and means for substantial production you need to have scores of city blocks set aside for a plant, which will cut up the urban fabric, and probably mean no more than a handful of workers could walk to work there anyway.

3. Urban land is also just far more valuable in improving areas if used for residential or commercial ventures. Not only is it more valuable for property owners, it's also more valuable for the municipalities, as tax revenue tends to rise dramatically when old mills are converted into lofts and/or new commercial space. So provided an area is actually desirable, it's really in no ones interest (or virtually no ones interest) to keep manufacturing within the neighborhood.
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Old 02-25-2014, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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In the sense of factories and walkability of a neighborhood, I would expect to see small start up manufacturers that combine making a product in house and a retail store.

Just Bee bags on Williams St in Portland is a great example of what I am talking about. It makes more sense to incorporate more tech like jobs to mixed use developments because those are often times the type of people wanting this kind of walkable neighborhood.
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
In the sense of factories and walkability of a neighborhood, I would expect to see small start up manufacturers that combine making a product in house and a retail store.

Just Bee bags on Williams St in Portland is a great example of what I am talking about. It makes more sense to incorporate more tech like jobs to mixed use developments because those are often times the type of people wanting this kind of walkable neighborhood.
There is an up and coming area in SF, mostly residential and former warehouses. There is a bag manufacturer right in the middle of the neighborhood. They are a fairly small company, made by hand, so I don't think it is especially intrusive. There is also a locally made bike shop, the warehouse/manufacturing/assembly in an up and coming residential area in Oakland. There is also a coffee roaster near this place too.

I wouldn't want a "huge" manufacturer, but a small one wouldn't bother me.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:56 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It was in the news here recently that the major newspaper, which has been located downtown, is selling their building to cut costs. While the journalists and other white-collar employees will move to rented office space somewhere else downtown, the unionized printing employees are going to be moved out to a facility a ways from the city limits, out near the airport.

It continues a trend which has been little discussed. Historically, as noted, factories were "walkable," insofar as they were within residential neighborhoods, and often even had bars directly across the street where workers would congregate and socialize when they went off shift. As mega-mills became common from the 1920s through 1940s, these became rarer, simply because the expansion obliterated so much of the neighborhood it became hard to actually walk to them. But they were still on city streets, in gridded neighborhoods.

Later came the move to the suburbs. This happened for several reasons. One, the movement from rail-based transport of goods to big rigs meant new facilities which had ample turning radius's were needed. Secondly, the cost of retrofitting old factories was in many cases higher than actually building a new one (particularly when modern factories are little but a metal box). Finally, there's the aspect of union avoidance. It was easy for unions to leaflet workers on public sidewalks and in public streets, but the retreat into private office parks meant few people were out of their cars to talk to anyone, and often organizers could be blocked from the office parks entirely.

I honestly do not ultimately think the way things are going any blue-collar jobs will remain in cities, aside from service jobs for the wealthy. I already see the changes in my own gentrified neighborhood. It does contain a lot of industry still by the river, but the newcomers are getting mad at how frequently tractor-trailers make poor turns onto residential streets and end up accidentally totaling cars. It's a matter of time I think before zoning is changed and the last few employers of size are pushed out.
B#1: This just cracked me up. Yes, there were bars directly across from the mill gates of some steel mills. There were, however, none across from the gate of the mill in my old neighborhood, nor was there one across from the cork works next to the football stadium that I posted a link to. IIRC, there was a Burger Chef across the street from the cork works. After all, these were residential neighborhoods, OK for heavy industry, but not for bars, LOL! (Sarc) There was a bar across from the mill gate of the steel mill where my father worked, called, appropriately enough, The Mill Gate Inn.

One time my mother was talking about my father, and she said "I don't have to go down to the mill gate on payday and take your father's check from him before he drinks it up like some women do". Now I was young enough that I couldn't figure out HOW someone drank a check (seriously, that's what I was trying to figure out when she said that), and I would have never, at that point in time thought my mom meant alcohol b/c my parents never, and I mean never, drank. Put that merry little scene into your idyll about life in factory towns. I have a feeling some bar owners acted as unofficial ATMs for the mill workers.

#2: Why would people be out on the public streets if they were inside the factory, working? Do people drive their cars directly into their offices now? I guess a few office parks have parking garages, but most of them around here have parking lots. The steelworkers in the little burb where I grew up all belonged to the United Steelworkers. I read a stat once that in the 1960s, 66% of ALL workers in Beaver County belonged to the Steelworkers. That does include a lot of suburbanites. Most of those mill towns were actually suburba-ish themselves.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
#2: Why would people be out on the public streets if they were inside the factory, working? Do people drive their cars directly into their offices now? I guess a few office parks have parking garages, but most of them around here have parking lots. The steelworkers in the little burb where I grew up all belonged to the United Steelworkers. I read a stat once that in the 1960s, 66% of ALL workers in Beaver County belonged to the Steelworkers. That does include a lot of suburbanites. Most of those mill towns were actually suburba-ish themselves.
Nah so long as they were in the same state or near the same city they really couldn't get away from unions. Union wages made people able to afford a car and they could drive to wherever the factory was. What also happened is that they sometimes needed larger facilities in which case an there might not be enough available land in the city to expand the factory or enough political will to evict people from homes(expensive for taxpayers and votes...).

As for light industry it doesn't have to get very heavy for it to be disruptive of the neighborhood. As for running or not running bus routes. Workplaces are the number one generator of traffic for public transit and so yeah it is an good idea to run a bus route to an outer region where the factory is.

For all the talk about interesting things to do, shade, trees, having a side walk is the number one thing you need for walkability. Without sidewalk and crossings it is just too dangerous or dirty or not possible to get to anywhere. The lack of sidewalk more than anything else is often what makes burbs unfriendly to transit.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:34 AM
 
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Keep in mind that one of those "interesting things to do" is working at a job. Workplaces are important in a mixed-use community.

Keep in mind that contemporary ideas about "mixed use" and "new urbanism" are based on historical urbanism, which included a lot of the key principles people talk about today--multiple uses in one building, being able to walk from home to job site and retail/commercial uses, etcetera--now that we have figured out how to deal with most of the problems that made 19th century city life so unpleasant, like coal smoke, open sewers, rampant disease, etcetera. In many historic urban neighborhoods, and small factory-town neighborhoods, the close physical relationship between home and workplace is still apparent. The urge to move workplaces farther from residential areas, not because of noise or pollution or danger but because they aren't perceived as appropriate for proximity to homes, is essentially a suburban idea. We can't repair our cities by rebuilding downtowns in the suburbs' image.

In my own experience, I live in a neighborhood that is very mixed use, including industrial uses--within a short walk there are warehouses, distributors, a railroad, a printing plant, food processing, subassembly manufacturing and ceramic manufacturing, in addition to several small "artisanal" shops...and a couple of microbreweries and an urban winery. But there are also single-family homes and apartment buildings in the same radius, and at least according to census figures, many of those who live in the neighborhood also work close enough to walk to work in a few minutes. Those are all sources of jobs, in the same way that office buildings and retail stores are, and having them all present adds to the economic health of the neighborhood.

Obviously, not every workplace can have such proximity. And some places may well be accessible without a car--but living in a walkable neighborhood certainly does not preclude car ownership or use, the point is that it isn't strictly necessary to own a car in order to live there and maintain a good quality of life. Some facilities are necessarily large, or noisy, or somewhat noxious--from airports to garbage dumps. But keep in mind that part of walkability includes transit--and the main role of many transit lines is to help workers get to workplaces. A mixed-use and walkable neighborhood is easier to serve with point-to-point transit to a major employer than a low-density, single-use neighborhood. A healthy city will include some element of manufacturing and industrial production, although of course the nature and quantity of what Americans build is changing as other countries step into the role of mass production of consumer goods.
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:08 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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I guess it depends on the type of industry too. The meatpacking plant that recently closed in the neighbouring city had 1200 jobs over a 25 acre site. That's 48 jobs/acre, less than an office tower which could have thousands of jobs per acre, but maybe comparable to a 1-2 storey commercial building with high ground coverage. Meanwhile the Ford auto-assembly plant in my parents' suburb has 3000 jobs across 330 acres or 9 jobs per acre. Both have an office component integrated into the site, and both have a fair bit of land dedicated to parking and loading/container yard areas, the % is actually probably higher for the meatpacking plant, although it has several floors to make up for it.

Studebacker's factories in the 1920s employed 23,000 people across 225 acres, over 100 jobs/acre, so a huge difference compared to the modern Ford plant. These were all multi-storey buildings with relatively high ground coverage.

Numbers for more small scale light industrial or mixed artisanal/industrial/commercial like the district just South of Vancouver's Athletes Village is a bit harder to come by.

Factories in Asia are often still built as multi-storey, like these in Shenzhen.

Factory Building - Shenzhen LAYU Laser Technology Co., Ltd.

I do think it's fine to have most industrial uses relatively close to residential, my main point is that it might make sense for it to be a bit away from the neighbourhood centre/main street or high order transit stop (but still near local transit), kind of like how the neighbourhood centres usually have multi-storey mixed use and the single family homes are a bit further out.

A lot of the industry in central Sacramento seems to be near the river, on the fringe of the neighbourhood. There seem to be a few mixed into the more residential areas but I'm not sure how much?
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:30 PM
 
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Back when there were a lot of industrial jobs here, they were on the perimeter of the neighborhood, but definitely within walking distance--I talked to a lot of railroad and cannery/packing house workers and they almost invariably walked to work, even once cars were commonplace. Many were close to the river because goods were shipped via the river until the 1950s, when shipping moved to new port facilities in West Sacramento, and along the railroad lines, but there were multiple lines running through different parts of town. Generally, wherever there was an industrial facility, there was a neighborhood within walking distance where most of its workers lived. There were canneries on all four sides of the old city, each with their own neighborhood. The two major railroad shops, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific, also had neighborhoods close by, and if you check city directories you often found that within a few blocks, most of the residents worked at the nearby job center. For middle distances or more job options there were streetcars, and if you worked really far out you could always buy a car, but it wasn't an automatic option and it carried expenses. These facilities did not have huge parking lots for commuters, land was too expensive and too high-priority to waste on big parking lots.

Migrant farm laborers generally lived downtown, they got hired at hiring halls and were carried by farmer's truck or buses to the farm site, worked and lived there until the job was done, then got a ride back to Sacramento the same way.

Today, according to some recent studies, there are around 100,000 jobs of all sorts (primarily white-collar, but some blue-collar) in and around downtown Sacramento, but only 30,000 live downtown and another 45,000 in the surrounding neighborhoods within 1 mile. About 30% of those 75,000 people also work in the same radius. Many of them drive, only because driving is a lot easier and more convenient than it used to be, and is more of a societal expectation. But most don't have to.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:56 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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^^My spouse grew up in Omaha in the 50s/60s. I asked him recently if the packing houses were in residential neighborhoods. He said "no"; they were on the edge of town and there were always a lot of trucks around them.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Yeah, I'd say it's pretty similar here, lots of small (~50 acre) industrial areas scattered about, usually near a rail line, and the occasional one-off industrial building in the middle of a neighbourhood. Now most industry is going into industrial areas of 1000-2000 acres. In the bigger cities, they're even bigger, Toronto's suburbs have an industrial area (or arguably multiple contiguous ones) of over 20,000 acres, in Montreal it's around 10,000 acres.

I think one reason for the lower job densities and difference from Asia is that the more labour intensive (not necessarily just sweatshops/repetitive assembly line stuff) industries have moved to Asia, while the more resource intensive and less labour intensive ones are what's left in the United States (and Canada).
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