Monday, October 26, 2009

Entropy Cities

"Entropy has never enjoyed such cachet...The future of the city, it would appear, is ruins."

Michael Anft, "Let's Get Small," Urbanite, October 2009.

This is not exactly a new problem or opportunity, but Detroit keeps getting worse. For me,it started with "blow out" neighborhoods like North Lawndale, in Chicago, that suffered population declines from 120,000 in the 1950s 40,000 in the 1990s. North Lawndale was the epicenter of disinvestment,riots,and pulling up stakes, in a city that eventually regained population. Now it is on the edge of the growing "superloop" downtown.

Makes you wonder where the 100+ million in population growth over the next fifty years will live. Lot's of supply. Maybe we need a 19th century-style urban homesteading program aimed at new immigrants. Just assemble the land, clean it up, have some basic infrastructure hook-ups. Real enterprize zones.

Do we still have it in us to build from the bottom up? Read Dominic Pacyga's Chicago: A Biography for a taste of the old spirit. Of course, cities like Chicago played an important economic role.

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