Monday, June 29, 2009

Building on Emptiness

"In the hardest-hit cities, where big clusters of foreclosed homes sit empty, entire blocks are being returned to nature -- land banks, they call them. There is opportunity in this crisis...City dwellers: this land is your land."

Timoth Egan, "The Self-Service City," excerpted in The New York Times, June 28,2009.

You might add closed factories, shopping centers, and public housing development to the list. So, what do we do with the land: urban farms, urban villages, green industry parks and incubators, urban homesteads,nature preserves, or regional amenities,

Of course this isn't a new problem. The blow out of cities from disinvestment in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s led to dramatic population and housing losses -- even in many cities now thought of as strong-market cities. North Lawndale in Chicago dropped from 120,000-plus people in the 1950s to 40-50,000.

So we experiment -- but mostly wait. I'm hoping that people will take the song seriously and invent so new solutions.

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