U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 12-23-2014, 05:27 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,761,439 times
Reputation: 1616

Advertisements

There's been a lot of talk about suburbs being in decline, but it's not something that has been affecting all suburbs equally and in many cases the decline hasn't reached the extreme levels it has in many inner cities.

Also, many of the documented cases of declining suburbs are older (pre-WWII) communities, either streetcar suburbs or towns that have been swallowed up by the sprawl of large metropolitan areas, places like Elizabeth or Orange, NJ, Chester, PA, Highland Park, MI...

Much of the rest is multi-family complexes that have gone downhill while adjacent single family homes remain relatively well kept.

However, I think most of the urbanists talking about the decline and increasing poverty in the suburbs are picturing post-WWII single family home developments going downhill, so how common are those?

It seems they do exist, the typical trend of decline has been one that has been expanding outwards with time. Back in 1950, the ghettos were mostly dating to the 19th century (except maybe for some very new cities), then you started to have early 20th century streetcar suburbs decline, and now you're starting to see a bit in the early post-WWII neighbourhoods.

And with these declining post-WWII neighbourhoods, you're mostly talking about increasing crime and poverty and declining schools and property values. In a few cases, you'll get a few abandoned homes, although (unlike Detroit) the suburb can usually still afford to demolish them relatively quickly so it doesn't look to bad, and the decline tends not to be so advanced as to lead to noticeable amounts of (sub?)urban prairie.

That being said, what are some examples of post-WWII single family home communities in noticeable and relatively advanced decline? I mean vacant homes and vacant lots, run down buildings, etc.

Some examples to get started.

Castle Point, MO (two more abandoned homes across the street, others elsewhere in the neighbourhood):
https://www.google.ca/maps/@38.75558...DPpD2Y7GFA!2e0

Parts of SE Atlanta, you have a vacant lot here that used to have a house on it (see historical street view).
https://www.google.ca/maps/@33.65777...E05YE68BsA!2e0
I remember seeing a street with a pretty shocking number of boarded up houses (half a dozen?) near there, don't remember where exactly though.

Ford Heights in Chicago's southern suburbs is probably the most extreme example
https://www.google.ca/maps/@41.50864...9NcZSo16-g!2e0

Some of Houston's suburban areas (mostly inside city limits, some outside) on the north and south sides can really feel like the wild west...
https://www.google.ca/maps/@29.87642...Vhvvzy09yw!2e0
You'll often have abandoned homes, vacant lots with dumping, mixed in with well kept 50s/60s homes with nice gardens, next to a scrap yard, next to new suburban starter homes, next to a strip club, next to ugly 50s-70s multifamily housing, next to some small homesteads with horses, goats, chickens, next to fairly new multi-family housing... Not a whole lot of places you'll see that sort of mix.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 12-23-2014, 06:17 PM
 
12,299 posts, read 15,194,052 times
Reputation: 8108
First, most of those suburbs in decline are industrial suburbs, that started dying when industry, the reason for their existence, went away. There are actually per-WW2 suburbs that are still going strong, mainly railroad (not streetcar) suburbs. But as far as post WW2 suburbs in decline, look around Detroit. Some south of Chicago. Maybe some the wrong direction from LA.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-23-2014, 06:44 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,988 posts, read 41,959,650 times
Reputation: 14805
There are a few suburbs on Long Island that have declined from demographic transition and white flight. The white population left as poorer hispanics (or sometimes blacks) moved in. Certainly not abandoned, housing values are too high, but declined in the sense a poorer population moved in and schools might have declined as well. If anything they're overcrowded rather than empty. Brentwood and maybe North Amityville in Suffolk County are examples of these. Parts of Huntington Station might count. Note the relatively high median household income but low per capita income:

North Amityville CDP QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau

Brentwood CDP QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau

It's hard to say it's truly poor, but locals consider they've declined. Nassau County, closer in has several better examples in the sense of decline. But most are either mainly pre-WWII railroad suburbs, with one (Hempstead) the former shopping downtown for the region before malls and a relatively high population density (14k per square mile). Nearby Roosevelt has worse schools than most New York City schools, with the added disadvantage that a resident student is stuck in the district schools, while a student in the city can access better schools in the city with decent grades.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-23-2014, 07:16 PM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 7,033,406 times
Reputation: 3599
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvande55 View Post
First, most of those suburbs in decline are industrial suburbs, that started dying when industry, the reason for their existence, went away. There are actually per-WW2 suburbs that are still going strong, mainly railroad (not streetcar) suburbs. But as far as post WW2 suburbs in decline, look around Detroit. Some south of Chicago. Maybe some the wrong direction from LA.
Actually, Southfield, Michigan, is one of Detroit's suburbs that has declined entirely due to non-industrial changes in the economy. It's one of the more densely built proto-mid-century suburbs that resembles more like an edge city.

Quite a number of high-rises have been demolished in Southfield within the last couple of years, all of them either office buildings or hotels adjacent to them. And even just the other day, one of Metro Detroit's first super-regional malls located in Southfield, Northland Mall, is reported to be facing foreclosure due to declining revenues from the loss of major anchor stores.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgarin...57643379658973

^The black tower on the far right currently houses the regional headquarters for 5/3rd Bank. They recently announced a move to Downtown Detroit leaving the rest of the complex about 30% vacant. The tower specifically is going to be 66% vacant. Of course the landlords are optimistic about filling space, however, it's interesting anecdotal evidence on how the growth of Detroit's core is effectively draining some of the commercial dense suburbs. Part of the reason for the move, 5/3rd said, was for a more urban environment that would attract potential employees.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgarin...57643379658973

^The highrise of the far right is a vacant hotel. The gray build with the purple entrance on the left side of the photo was imploded just a week ago. Next door to it was a vacant hotel demolished over the summer. Numerous other office buildings have also disappeared. What's more is that most of these high-rises and many of the other mid-density developments in Southfield were built in the 1960s to 70s. Not very old buildings to be tearing down.

As far as residential decline, there actually isn't much outside of Detroit. The areas outside of Detroit that look run-down technically are pre-war suburbs. Post-war suburbs, at least on the residential side, are still mostly stable. The biggest decline has been in suburban office space like that of Southfield.

Last edited by animatedmartian; 12-23-2014 at 07:28 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-23-2014, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,761,439 times
Reputation: 1616
Yeah post-WWII suburbs of Detroit aren't in severe decline, or at least not at the advanced stages of severe decline. There are post-WWII SFH neighbourhoods within the city proper though, some of which are in the advanced stages of severe decline.

I would consider Eastpointe, Harper Woods, Redford and Inkster mostly post-WWII suburbs of Detroit though. The census tracts in Metro Detroit that have experienced the biggest changes in racial composition from 2000 to 2010 are mostly in Eastpointe, Harper Woods, Redford, South Warren and a few adjacent parts of Detroit, and to a lesser extent some of the downriver areas. Census tracts in Southfield and Oak Park changed too but not quite as fast.

Another difference between Southfield vs Eastpointe and Harper Woods is that blacks in Southfield have higher incomes than whites, while in Harper Woods and Eastpointe it's lower. The parts of Detroit near Southfield and Oak Park are also more stable black lower middle class neighbourhoods whereas the parts near Eastpointe and Harper Woods are among the most rapidly deteriorating parts of Detroit. Some of these earlier post-WWII suburbs seem to have experienced greater declines in property values and incomes/increasing poverty more than the rest of Metro Detroit too. They've managed to keep up appearances so far, and avoid intense population loss, but some of them are still in a precarious situation.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-24-2014, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,062 posts, read 16,078,369 times
Reputation: 12636
Probably depends where. Population in the West is still growing so much that almost nothing is in that kind of decline. Supposedly the exurbs were supposed to whither and die out here, and for a brief time period in 2007-2008, it actually looked like they might. Now that's a joke. There's new subdevelopments being built all over in basically every part of California. I have a friend that just moved down to Fresno and it's shocking how much development is going on there. A few years ago I was seeing tons of litigation and bankruptcy from developers that had gone bankrupt. Now I'm starting to see construction defect lawsuits again instead. On the other hand, huge areas of the Great Planes have lost the majority of their population, what little there was of it to begin with. That's not exactly suburban, but if you take a road trip through those areas the number of abandoned old farm houses can be shocking.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-24-2014, 11:30 AM
 
4,064 posts, read 3,096,505 times
Reputation: 5608
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Probably depends where. Population in the West is still growing so much that almost nothing is in that kind of decline. Supposedly the exurbs were supposed to whither and die out here, and for a brief time period in 2007-2008, it actually looked like they might. Now that's a joke. There's new subdevelopments being built all over in basically every part of California. I have a friend that just moved down to Fresno and it's shocking how much development is going on there. A few years ago I was seeing tons of litigation and bankruptcy from developers that had gone bankrupt. Now I'm starting to see construction defect lawsuits again instead. On the other hand, huge areas of the Great Planes have lost the majority of their population, what little there was of it to begin with. That's not exactly suburban, but if you take a road trip through those areas the number of abandoned old farm houses can be shocking.
Likewise demand for housing in the Boston exurbs remains strong. Bedford, New Hampshire is set to run out of land available for subdivisions in the next year or two. In fact the market for new construction across most of southern New Hampshire is tightening due to the dwindling supply of available land. The suburbs are not declining here, we are still trying to manage growth.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-24-2014, 01:13 PM
 
1,478 posts, read 2,002,048 times
Reputation: 1579
It's really a function of housing availability/style/preference and proximity to employment. I think this hits less expensive markets more (like the Midwest). Post war housing is typically smaller than current preferences with none of the advantages of pre-war housing (historic forms, more central locations, better density/walkability. Basically, they don't tick any of the relevant boxes for buyers with choices.

You can find these types of neighborhoods everywhere. The recent problems in Ferguson is in large part due to these issues. Physically, Ferguson doesn't look physically blighted. It's the lower socioeconomic trend that creates higher crime, worse schools, lower tax base for services, greater need for social support functions, etc. Quick list of places in STL: Normandy, Ferguson, Spanish Lake, Hazelwood, Ferguson, Overton, etc. this places don't look like urban wastelands, but fiscally, it will be impossible for them not to become that in the coming decades. That's why cops have reverted to becoming revenue generation tools--ticketing people for ridiculous infractions. It is too easy for the middle class to move into historic areas of the metro or to buy brand new in outer suburbs, and dumb LE policies can only do so much to fill the town coffers. I could add a lot of places in South County to this list. For 150k, why the hell would I want to buy a 1962 split level with problems not close to anything when I can buy a historic home in the city close to work, shops, restaurants, parks, museums? Why would I buy the old split level when I can get a new home not close to anything in St Charles county, Jefferson County, or in Il?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-24-2014, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,761,439 times
Reputation: 1616
Well the phenomenon of abandonment only seems to occur in low cost cities, whether that's Houston, Indianapolis or Detroit. It's not really happening in more expensive cities, whether they're slow growth like New York, or faster growth like Seattle, Washington DC or Toronto.

There's no abandonment happening in Toronto but the greatest drops in income have mostly been in post-WWII areas. In addition to post-WWII apartment neighbourhoods, SFH neighbourhoods have experienced drops in income according to census data:

Mississauga: Malton, Erin Mills, Erindale, Meadowvale West, Churchill Meadows
Oakville: Glen Abbey
Most of Brampton
Vaughan: Woodbridge, Maple
Markham: Milliken, Bercy Village, Middlefield, Markham Village
Scarborough: Milliken, Malvern, Woburn, L'Amoreaux
North York: Downsview
Etobicoke: northernmost part of Smithfield

Many of these are just shifting from upper middle class to middle middle class so far (or from upper to upper middle for Glen Abbey), especially the post-1980 neighbourhoods.

Otherwise, while there aren't really any that are truly poor in terms of household income, there are some that are more on the low end of the income spectrum when you consider the larger household sizes (i.e. per capita income), although arguably still low-middle class, mainly Malton, Downsview and Smithfield.

I don't think you can argue that the single family areas of SW Brampton, L'Amoreaux, Malvern and Woburn are anything below lower middle class. I guess it's hard to classify though, you're looking at $50-60k household incomes vs $70k for the metro average, but household sizes are also 30-50% larger.

And then there's quite a bit of Brampton where the average household size is 4-5, the average home has 6-8 rooms, and median household income is around $70k. That gives you about 1.6-1.7 rooms per person, which is pretty low compared to the average. I guess it's not an ideal measurement since it seems like crowding is pretty rare, I would say that only <1.5 rooms per person is starting to get crowded.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-24-2014, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,761,439 times
Reputation: 1616
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago76 View Post
It's really a function of housing availability/style/preference and proximity to employment. I think this hits less expensive markets more (like the Midwest). Post war housing is typically smaller than current preferences with none of the advantages of pre-war housing (historic forms, more central locations, better density/walkability. Basically, they don't tick any of the relevant boxes for buyers with choices.

You can find these types of neighborhoods everywhere. The recent problems in Ferguson is in large part due to these issues. Physically, Ferguson doesn't look physically blighted. It's the lower socioeconomic trend that creates higher crime, worse schools, lower tax base for services, greater need for social support functions, etc. Quick list of places in STL: Normandy, Ferguson, Spanish Lake, Hazelwood, Ferguson, Overton, etc. this places don't look like urban wastelands, but fiscally, it will be impossible for them not to become that in the coming decades. That's why cops have reverted to becoming revenue generation tools--ticketing people for ridiculous infractions. It is too easy for the middle class to move into historic areas of the metro or to buy brand new in outer suburbs, and dumb LE policies can only do so much to fill the town coffers. I could add a lot of places in South County to this list. For 150k, why the hell would I want to buy a 1962 split level with problems not close to anything when I can buy a historic home in the city close to work, shops, restaurants, parks, museums? Why would I buy the old split level when I can get a new home not close to anything in St Charles county, Jefferson County, or in Il?
New developments in St Charles county are pretty far flung though. I don't really have a feel for what congestion is like and where the suburban job centres in St Louis are, but wouldn't St Louis County have shorter commutes than St Charles county? That's a major reason why some of Toronto's 50s/60s neighbourhoods are still desirable. In many of them, schools are still good too. The lots are often larger than older neighbourhoods as well, which helps make up for lower walkability.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top