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Old 06-17-2009, 11:43 AM
 
Location: City of the Angels
2,222 posts, read 1,890,442 times
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"shrink to survive"Constructive destruction, the end of the expansionistic supply side era model and another way of putting Americans to work ? US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive - Telegraph
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:41 PM
 
22,966 posts, read 42,055,677 times
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1. Seems a bit ironic that a British paper runs this story. Why hasn't the U.S. media done a piece on this? (They probably did, but I missed it.) But isn't it odd that the Brits recognize the news-worthiness of such things as tearing down large parts of cities in order to save, redesign, or rebuild OUR cities? Or is apathy the new American pastime.....

2. The city in the article, Flint, MI, is a special case. Once a booming GM industrial center, it is undergoing what happened to Pittsburgh, PA, about 30 years ago when aging, obsolete steel mills shut down under a flood of imports from nations that had modernized their industrial base. Flint, MI, was largely a one-trick town, the GM plant(s). The same sort of vacuous management that doomed big steel has doomed GM. The steel industry in the USA once had the world as it's oyster, but is now a case study at how to fritter away worldwide dominance by granting ruinous union contracts, lack of R&D on how to make better steels in more efficient ways, lack of plant modernization, expectations that tariffs would protect them from foreign makers and simple complacency that anything would ever change. The auto industry has been going down the same road for a long time, and it's now their turn in the hopper. Flint, MI, is the new Pittsburgh, PA.

3. Does the case of Flint, MI, apply to other American cities? I lean towards saying 'no' to such a premise on a broad manner. Flint was a one trick pony, almost solely GM and its support base. Most cities are very diversified. The Flint case may apply to other one-trick towns, but I don't see Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, St Louis, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland or Seattle tearing down large portions of anything. I have seen lots of urban renewal going on in my hometown (Baltimore) where areas of ancient, inner-city, decrepit, tiny old row homes are being either razed or rehabbed. That same dynamic is at work in other cities. Old smokestack industrial sites in Baltimore are either going away or morphing into livable, walkable areas as boomers retire and want to be in-town and not out in the burbs any longer. Same elsewhere, but few large cities are one-tricks like Flint, MI.

4. I spent 30 years in the DC area, and saw it transformed by the addition of the DC Metro subway system. As subway construction progressed westward out through the suburbs of Arlington, VA, transformation blossomed. Private enterprise bought up whole neighborhoods of old single family bungalows and strip malls and transformed it into high-rise living and office blocks that are highly desirable. The important thing here is that is was the addition of modern transport utility infrastructure that enabled transformation. I'd love to see more of that in our cities, so we can get off of the automobile lifestyle, at least to some degree. This is a key point of the story, even if not mentioned.

5. The message of the story: Flint, MI is telling us something. My takeaway from this is two-fold: (a) the automobile is a dead-end technology; we need to get to the future, which is good mass transit in walkable, compact urban areas, and, (b) burning fossil fuels for cars will kill us with global warming, not to mention it will be increasingly rare and expensive to buy.

6. Bottom line thoughts.
- Saddens me to see plain honest working people shunted off to nothingness. Economics is a rigid merciless dictator.
- Pittsburgh, PA, was a gentle warning, a whiff of what was to come.
- Flint, MI, is the canary in the coal mine relative to sustainability, the automobile and energy usage.
- The next step (final step?) in this economic / sustainability chain will be the roof caving in - on us.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Sverige och USA
702 posts, read 2,865,984 times
Reputation: 418
Actually, there have been articles in the U.S. media concerning Youngstown, Ohio that is the same.

Actually, they should make lemonade out of lemons. They could emulate Scandinavian cities, which are dense yet filled with natural areas for hiking walking, etc. If they plan correctly, it may turn things around and actually make the cities more desirable to live in.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:12 PM
 
48,508 posts, read 88,463,443 times
Reputation: 18187
This has been going on for deacdes and increased with the 70's recession as older manufacturing based comapnies started to either not exist or move out of urban areas because of cost. They bascially followed the people flight to the burbs more and more and even went to areas that where rural formerly.That mjeant that houses and business building where left to rot many of which where already in disrepair. That was the start of urban renewal movement and programs like CDBG money from the feds to lacal government has been used to teardown many building and homes in disrepair. Its really a massive movement from the cities to the rural areasfor the same reason we saw the movement from rural agriculture areas to the cities.More and more joibs that needed to be urban based ;no longer need to be any more. How days jobs are where the people are more and more and that is in the burbs or closeby.I really don't see this changing especailly with the growing global economy becoming more and more important.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:32 PM
 
22,966 posts, read 42,055,677 times
Reputation: 23391
TexDav speaks well to what has been happening to the old model, which was that all people AND industry were in-city, people rode the streetcars to work, etc. This describes old eastern manufacturing centers.

As TexDav points out, that model changed after WW-II with the auto-dependent suburbs.

Many of the lighter industries moved to burb's years ago. Heavy industry tended to stay in-place, like steel mills in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, et al. I recall all the heavy industry in Baltimore, the GM plant, P&G, Lever Bros, steel of all sorts, roofing, an Esso oil refinery, coal and grain export piers. Some are now gone.

Massive amounts of office space moved to the burbs, witness the Tyson's Corner area of Fairfax County, VA, a good 15 miles west of DC. It's a massive high-rise downtown in its own right.

Older cities, mostly coastal, but some like Chicago, have the old style dense urban cores, with horrendous hub-spoke commuting patterns. Hub-spoke means everyone drives towards the bullseye of the city center/core in the morning and then outbound along those spokes in the evenings. Most city fathers figured out years ago that we cannot pour enough concrete to ever feed all the cars into dense inner city office concentrations, further, where do we park all that damned sheet metal when it gets downtown. Meanwhile the business owners found that office space in dense city cores was both too expensive to buy or lease and also too hard for their employees to get to. In the DC area, which is VERY hub-spoke oriented, where I spent 30 years, we had guys driving 100 miles each way, daily, so they find affordable housing.

Here in COLO SPGS, CO, we are linear, office parks and light manufacturing all along the I-25 corridor, with people able to live a few miles at most from work. Very nice indeed. Also very affordable.

So, back to the original news article. What does it mean? Partly it means that some green spots may occur in cities where the old stuff comes out. That is certainly welcome.

It also gives us a chance to re-engineer towards what is livable and sustainable. Most of the old cities have millions of units of housing that is awesomely outdated and substandard. It's now time to re-invent and rebuild America for a post industrial age.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,090 posts, read 11,169,701 times
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Doubtful, they provide the example of a city that has been decline for decades that has not encouraged other industries. It has just been riding the corpse of GM as it rots. Without a good economic base moving in, even if you do bulldoze the city it won't do any good to help.

They completely ignore things that contradict what they are saying, say examples like Portland Oregon (dense, very urban city with great mass transit) to Denver (sprawling suburb/car oriented city). Portland is pushing the 12%+ unemployment rates, Denver is pushing 7.5% unemployment...just dense urban cities with good public transit does not help in isolation.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,726 posts, read 10,551,838 times
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I'm assuming one of the folks on this thread hasn't been to Pittsburgh lately. It is doing quite well in many respects these days, and has certainly bounced back from tough times decades ago. Flint would be lucky to turn out like Pittsburgh.
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:12 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 76,068,160 times
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Fad.

Remember back when geniuses all over the whole COUNTRY thought the way to "revitalize" downtowns no matter how big or small was to put in a "pedestrian only" malls with fountains and enormous sidewalks with fancy designs?

Fat lot of good that did!

The smart towns ripped up the "mall" and reopened the streets to normal traffic and some actually did OK. Hardware stores and sandwich shops and other "downtown" shops need people to be able to drive to 'em or they are doomed.

I am sure that Flint has seen lots of fads before (I belive Michael Moor made fun of their previous desires to have some sort of convention center and try and pump up their tourist business).

Automobiles are not dead-ends for China, India, South Korea or dozens of other countries that have vibrant manufacturing. I suspect that if there is anyone in Flint with the real skills to not just put tab a in slot b for 8 hours a day but instead really has the knowledge to contribute to a risk taking venture they might attract manufacturing jobs.
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:14 PM
 
Location: southern california
61,306 posts, read 79,407,193 times
Reputation: 55458
why bulldoze? the buildings are fine its the creatures inside them that are the issue.
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,885 posts, read 18,152,017 times
Reputation: 3893
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
1. Seems a bit ironic that a British paper runs this story. Why hasn't the U.S. media done a piece on this? (They probably did, but I missed it.) But isn't it odd that the Brits recognize the news-worthiness of such things as tearing down large parts of cities in order to save, redesign, or rebuild OUR cities? Or is apathy the new American pastime.....

2. The city in the article, Flint, MI, is a special case. Once a booming GM industrial center, it is undergoing what happened to Pittsburgh, PA, about 30 years ago when aging, obsolete steel mills shut down under a flood of imports from nations that had modernized their industrial base. Flint, MI, was largely a one-trick town, the GM plant(s). The same sort of vacuous management that doomed big steel has doomed GM. The steel industry in the USA once had the world as it's oyster, but is now a case study at how to fritter away worldwide dominance by granting ruinous union contracts, lack of R&D on how to make better steels in more efficient ways, lack of plant modernization, expectations that tariffs would protect them from foreign makers and simple complacency that anything would ever change. The auto industry has been going down the same road for a long time, and it's now their turn in the hopper. Flint, MI, is the new Pittsburgh, PA.

3. Does the case of Flint, MI, apply to other American cities? I lean towards saying 'no' to such a premise on a broad manner. Flint was a one trick pony, almost solely GM and its support base. Most cities are very diversified. The Flint case may apply to other one-trick towns, but I don't see Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, St Louis, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland or Seattle tearing down large portions of anything. I have seen lots of urban renewal going on in my hometown (Baltimore) where areas of ancient, inner-city, decrepit, tiny old row homes are being either razed or rehabbed. That same dynamic is at work in other cities. Old smokestack industrial sites in Baltimore are either going away or morphing into livable, walkable areas as boomers retire and want to be in-town and not out in the burbs any longer. Same elsewhere, but few large cities are one-tricks like Flint, MI.

4. I spent 30 years in the DC area, and saw it transformed by the addition of the DC Metro subway system. As subway construction progressed westward out through the suburbs of Arlington, VA, transformation blossomed. Private enterprise bought up whole neighborhoods of old single family bungalows and strip malls and transformed it into high-rise living and office blocks that are highly desirable. The important thing here is that is was the addition of modern transport utility infrastructure that enabled transformation. I'd love to see more of that in our cities, so we can get off of the automobile lifestyle, at least to some degree. This is a key point of the story, even if not mentioned.

5. The message of the story: Flint, MI is telling us something. My takeaway from this is two-fold: (a) the automobile is a dead-end technology; we need to get to the future, which is good mass transit in walkable, compact urban areas, and, (b) burning fossil fuels for cars will kill us with global warming, not to mention it will be increasingly rare and expensive to buy.

6. Bottom line thoughts.
- Saddens me to see plain honest working people shunted off to nothingness. Economics is a rigid merciless dictator.
- Pittsburgh, PA, was a gentle warning, a whiff of what was to come.
- Flint, MI, is the canary in the coal mine relative to sustainability, the automobile and energy usage.
- The next step (final step?) in this economic / sustainability chain will be the roof caving in - on us.
Actually, Flint is not a lone example of this. Many, many cities are declining in population around the country. With most of the growth occurring in the exurban areas of most metros. If you find a "city" that has grown in the last 10 years, it is most likely due to annexation of surrounding suburbs.

While there are examples of cities whose downtowns and near neighborhoods have made impressive comebacks, it's more anecdotal evidence than statistical evidence of growth. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Detroit, Louisville KY, Washington DC, Kansas City MO, Miami, Tulsa, San Francisco, Oakland CA, Minneapolis, Boston, and Pittsburgh are all examples of cities that have declined in population over the last decade (or stagnated). In fact, I believe Carnegie Mellon put out a study that showed only 10% of U.S. cities over 100,000 (not MSA's) showed any kind of growth over the last decade. That means the other 90% of cities stagnated or declined. Again, I'm not talking MSA's or CSA's.

I wouldn't be surprised if other cities start to adopt the same policies as Flint over the coming decade. Although there is a lot of redevelopment going on in virtually every downtown in America, I certainly don't see any sea-change in the great majority of people's lifestyle patterns, and totally giving up suburban living. Once the housing market regains a foothold, take a look at any metro area and compare home sales and new home starts between suburbs and the city. It's usually at least 10 to 1, sometimes 20 to 1 (more sales and permits in the suburbs).
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