Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Obsolete" and "Blighted" Neighborhoods

This was the plan that basically condemned a large portions of the buildings inside Grand as "obsolete." While it might be trivial, much of what was labeled thus was in fact torn down. "Blighted" areas are now some of the most prized, and in some cases, the most troubled areas of the city today. Thank God they didn't get their way completely.

7 comments:

  1. Whoah, what a find!
    -Casey Ryback

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  2. It's the vision many in the white suburbs had and still have for St. Louis. White flight and racial disharmony (a nice word for racism) are the twin issues that define St. Louis and what keep it on the decline.

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    1. Tom Maher - KirkwoodMay 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      While definitely NOT excusing, rationalising, exonerating, or apologizing for this 1941 plan OF THE CITY (NO 'burbs were involved), this also includes many "white" neighborhoods as well, from North city to way South City.
      It was apparently a view toward "improving" certain grades of housing stock - not that racial intentions were possibly absent as well.

      Before dissing the "white suburbs" for theis 70-year old plan, I'd take a look at the patricians around Forest Park, which wielded much more powere than now - and there were a LOT more of them in that area than now; remember, that was before the rise of T&C and Frontenac and C-field and Wildewoode.
      Also recall that I-70 destroyed North City starting in the 'ate '50s.

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    2. True, this was a plan from the city dwellers. However, they were the ones who became the suburbanites that came to abhor all that is St. Louis, the city.

      As for the white south side neighborhoods being roped in: Classism is a close cousin to racism.

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  3. I hope you've read Mapping Decline by Colin Gordon. great, analytical book that really explores why this happened, and of course, features this map prominently, as well as many other interesting maps of data, made both historically and by the author.

    timeline coincidence to think about: this plan was drawn up in 1947. st. louis' census population peaked in 1950 and plummeted steadily afterwards, through the 'urban renewal' years up to today. we all know the story with people and businesses leaving, blah blah blah...does anyone else sense a coincidence here? you don't destroy a city wholesale to rebuild it.

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    1. Indeed, imagine how many thousands were displaced when Mill Valley was demolished. And the area around Jefferson/Market? Where did those people go? How many families and good neighborhoods were destroyed, leaving thousands to fend for themselves when it came to finding housing? That must have had am profoundly destabilizing effect on the entire City. Sadly, very few people seemed to have learned that lesson.

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  4. How else were they going to build the City of the Future? One where everyone wears silver spandex jumpsuits, travels on monorails, and eats food pills?

    Donald Fagan’s song, I.G.Y., reflects the excessive optimism of the era that proposed the complete remaking of the city: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sogYgHlNnqo

    I’d go into details as to why utopian thinking is bad, but then I’d be ranting.

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