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Old 09-12-2014, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,763,654 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnc2mbfl View Post
  1. Decreasing family/household size resulting in fewer people in existing residences.
  2. Residential building conversions/renovations that have resulted in fewer but larger housing units.
Many of Montreal's pre-WWII neighbourhoods lost 50% or more of their 1940 population for primarily these two reasons. What surprises me is how in many parts of NYC, as well as most of LA and Miami, the population of pre-WWII neighbourhoods did not decline, or declined very little despite.
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Old 09-12-2014, 02:01 PM
 
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LA and Miami were not really huge cities before the 50ies. In the 60ies and onward many people moved out to California for climate and Miami benefits from retirees seeking warm winters and Cubans escaping Cuba.
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Old 09-12-2014, 03:53 PM
 
Location: The City
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LA was the 4th largest city in the US by the 1920s was large by 1900
in the 50s it became the 2nd largest US city


Largest cities in the United States by population by decade - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OuttaTheLouBurbs View Post
When we talk about why cities decline, we often give various reasons for why it happened-white flight/racism, desire for more space, desire for an automobile-friendly environment, and many more. But there is a factor that we tend to bypass when talking about urban decline that could be the most important of all: industrial pollution. Here's my argument and proof for why and how industry was what drove people from cities.

First, let's look at the cities most affected by population decline. When we think "population decline," the first thing that comes to mind are the classic Rust Belt cities. Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and sometimes the eastern powerhouses of Baltimore and Philadelphia are all the former industrial meccas that come to mind. These cities are also all identified with a similar history-born as transportation centers on rivers and lakes, and then catapulting to national prominence after being chosen as centers for industry due to their central locations. All were hosts to big industries-steel mills, oil refineries, auto factories, stockyards/meatpacking plants, and other forms of heavy industry; sometimes so much so that they became identified with those industries (EG Detroit and autos, Pittsburgh and steel). Their growth was largely driven by massive amounts of poor immigrants looking for work; however, once these immigrants' descendants had the money, they left. Why is that?

Let's rewind. Think about what drove these cities' economies, and how they formed-heavy industry. Hevay industry tends to spill out a lot of pollution, right? Now take a look at some of their oldest and most declined neighborhoods. For example, here's a home in Detroit, right by the old Packard Plant. Now, keep in mind that pollution regulation didn't start until well after these factories were built (usually between the 1890s-1930s); the first pollution regulation act was enacted in 1955, long after most of these factories were built. This was in response to US citizens beginning to discover and recognize the damage industrial pollution was doing not only to their environment, but to their own selves. And, looking at the example above, these factories were practically in their front yard. Ironically, the 1950s was also the dawn of suburbanization, when people first began to move out of city cores to surrounding suburbs. That's an interesting correlation, isn't it? And it's no coincidence.

Think about it-look at that house, and ask yourself-would you want to live there at Detroit's height, with that factory less than a block away spewing out pollution into the air you breathe? I wouldn't! People were just now realizing the damage this did to them, and they wanted to get away. They weren't willing to live by pollution-spewing factories anymore. And why? Because they didn't have to! This is where the car comes in. The car became available to the middle class by the 1950s, making what were once impossibly long commutes on foot a short trip away by road. So you no longer had to live on the factory's doorstep to keep your job. Who wouldn't take advantage of that? And that's exactly what people did. The people left, but the industrial jobs left the cities. In fact, industrial decline didn't start until the 1980s*, well into the suburbanization process. For many of those years, people still worked in the city and kept their comfortable union factory job, going to and from work by car. And as people moved away from the dirty, polluted cities, it was only natural that the service jobs and white-collar jobs followed them, especially as the US became more white collar following the loss of manufacturing jobs that started in the 1980s (see above). This why things are the way they are now-this is why suburbs have so much influence over cities like they do today (especially in the former Rust Belt cities-again, not a coincidence); the industries chased the people to them, and the non-industrial jobs followed those people there.

But how do we know that it was industry that drove people out? How do we know that this correlation isn't just coincidence, and other trends were the real cause? Let's take a look at some non-RB cities or parts of cities like San Francisco, Boston, or Chicago's North side. The north side of Chicago, for example, was less manufacturing-based than its counterpart half. When looking at aerial views, one will notice that the North Branch of the Chicago river is dotted by parks and green spaces. By contrast, the Southern Fork is dotted by factories (both functional and abandoned) that took advantage of the location for shipping to and from the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Railroads also entered largely through the south side, as since Chicago was a major east-wets rail center and had a lake directly to its east, the railroads coming westward to link up with western lines had to bend around Lake Michigan and enter Chicago from the South. These lines not only served as major industrial corridors, but also sliced and diced up neighborhoods, separating them and providing noise to nearby homes, thus making those homes less than desirable. Chicago's north side had much less of these industrial railroad corridors. Overall, the north side was far less blue-collar and industrial-based than the south side. Now onto Boston and San Francisco-both were big immigrant port cities, but they lacked the manufacturing base that the big Rust Belt cities had. Their manufacturing jobs were largely tied to their port facilities, and weren't really high-polluting industries. Port cities thus didn't see as much of a decline. And what of the port cities that did, like Baltimore or Philadelphia? These particular big port cities were actually home to their own heavy industries. For example, the Baltimore area was once home to the world's largest steel mill complex . Philly also was (and still is) home to heavy industries such as oil refineries. Funny how these two cities are the two major cities out of the BosWash corridor that have seen major ongoing population decline and decay.

So, we now understand that it was heavy pollution from heavy industry that drove away people from cities. Racism, desire for space, want for automobile convenience/automobile culture, etc. were all factors in the decline of city centers, but none played so large a part as pollution. In fact, pollution was a largely prevalent theme in most of these factors. For example, racism largely played out in White flight and redlining; however, these were attempts to leave blacks within the polluted cities, to leave them with the "lesser" places to live, rather than a slight at the cities themselves. And the automobile culture was birthed by pollution, as argued earlier-people used automobiles so they didn't have to compromise between nice homes and nice jobs. Thus, as a result of their endemic use they became cemented in the American mindset.

Long story short: Pollution made people want to leave. Automobiles simply gave them the ability.

What does this mean for cities now? That's coming in the next post, because my brain is fried from typing this one.


*(I know this link has political bias, but it does provide the cold hard facts I need, so just pay attention to the numbers and ignore the argument.)
That might one elephant in the bedroom but there are others.

I think it is more of a cultural argument. Chicago and NYC were once manufacturing powerhouses too. But those cities reinvented themselves. Clearly, pollution must have been an issue in nearby neighborhoods there too.

The situation is more complex, and the solutions varied. I think the demise of manufacturing is the easiest thing to look at, but one must ask, if the jobs were there why didn't those cities grow culturally? There is virtually little, if any, entertainment industry in any of those cities, and where are the financial districts in these cities? Those cities have small artistic pockets here and there but nothing like what you find in other cities. No fashion industry to speak of. You can't put it all on pollution, the cities that did suffer from pollution, the true ghost towns, no longer exist.

There is also a thing of "I don't fit here, I don't belong in this city" that makes it easier to people to leave a city. Culturally, a lot of those towns you speak of, were monolithic. People were either segregated into certain neighborhoods by ethnicity or race either consciously, or because of redlining or other reasons. Those cities did not give immigrants a reason to stay there, because after work what else existed?

Another thing; if you were Black and you moved to the North you probably lived in a tenement or some other ill fated housing because of racism that existed long before the average worker was even aware of the destruction to the environment that was occurring. Companies, particularly in the case of cities like Detroit, did not want to continue to pay those high city taxes and the move to suburbia would have happened regardless of whether the workers were there are not. I understand where you're going with this but it neglects pollution that occurred in cities like New York and London that existed in the 19th century and how those cities continued to grow in spite of it.

Last edited by goofy328; 09-14-2014 at 11:22 AM..
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:40 PM
 
1,478 posts, read 2,003,386 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Improvements in technology. Something that doesn't get much attention. There are a lot of jobs we just don't need people for anymore. Unfortunately nearly all of those increases in productivity don't get distributed amongst the workforce or through taxes but all go straight to the top.

Per the question from the other poster about rising auto sales vs. declining steel production . . . steel mills along the Delaware River weren't making steel for cars. It was for bridges, for ships, for aviation, for steel cables, etc.

Appliance production - fridges, washers, dryers, even tvs and radios moved offshore starting in the 60s and the Japanese were making their own steel for those things.

Also don't forget that while US steel production might be down only slightly on the whole the US population has doubled since the 1950s.
Another thing to consider is the obsolescence of the mills producing steel. As the mills age, they can be replaced by mills anywhere, and for environmental cleanup purposes, it is often preferable for large companies to go to greenfields. They corporate subsidiary holding the old mill with the environmental liability claim veiled off from the new operation, so the cash from the new opco isn't liable.

Also: the rise of the mini mill is important. Customers don't need "virgin" steel for most steel uses. The mini mills recycle old stuff and skip some of the traditional mill processes to produce the finished article. Mills don't need to be as close to iron+coal deposits anymore because min mills don't consume as much coal and they don't need raw ore.
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:29 PM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,861,397 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofy328 View Post
That might one elephant in the bedroom but there are others.



The situation is more complex, and the solutions varied. I think the demise of manufacturing is the easiest thing to look at, but one must ask, if the jobs were there why didn't those cities grow culturally? There is virtually little, if any, entertainment industry in any of those cities, and where are the financial districts in these cities? Those cities have small artistic pockets here and there but nothing like what you find in other cities. No fashion industry to speak of. You can't put it all on pollution, the cities that did suffer from pollution, the true ghost towns, no longer exist.
L.A. or Hollywood has the entertainment industry for one good reason: Weather. Early films had to be done outdoors due to early movie camera's needing more light latter they built studios with glass roofs to let in light. The film industry arose on the east coast but moved westward to Chicago and then landed permanently in Hollywood. When film cameras needed less light it stayed(plus the need to film outdoor scenes remained). There were also some patent issues around film where people could quickly escape to Mexico if Edison tried to sue them. Once the infrastructure for film built up it became hard for other places to compete solely on that.
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
6,383 posts, read 6,011,480 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chirack View Post
L.A. or Hollywood has the entertainment industry for one good reason: Weather. Early films had to be done outdoors due to early movie camera's needing more light latter they built studios with glass roofs to let in light. The film industry arose on the east coast but moved westward to Chicago and then landed permanently in Hollywood. When film cameras needed less light it stayed(plus the need to film outdoor scenes remained). There were also some patent issues around film where people could quickly escape to Mexico if Edison tried to sue them. Once the infrastructure for film built up it became hard for other places to compete solely on that.
Good points. I meant in a broader sense, not just television and cinema. Even though the film industry didn't remain in Chicago, the city has other things to offer that cities like Detroit and Cleveland do not, or not on the same scale.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:21 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjlo View Post
So here's a question, talking about the decline in steel because of decline in other industries. During all of the manufacturing declines the US Automakers were still posting record sales of vehicles. The number of vehicles sold and manufactured went up most years. The economy was still exanding over the long term. They must have still needed steel. So was it less in demand? Or did they just produce it elsewhere, cheaper?
Both. Cars began using less steel, more plastic. Steel companies moved operations to Mexico and South Korea.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:34 PM
 
12,973 posts, read 12,799,578 times
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This poor thread just keeps flogging along swinging randomly.

Would it not be best to observe the consensus is that the OP's thesis has no support? That pollution is secondary or tertiary concern in the abandonment of the central core over the last decades?

Pollution may bother people but it does not drive decision making.
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Both. Cars began using less steel, more plastic. Steel companies moved operations to Mexico and South Korea.
And not just cars but many other products began to switch to aluminum and plastic.
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