Thursday, April 8, 2010

Saving Neighborhoods?

"By the late '60s, after [Jane]Jacobs had helped neighborhood allies save the area from an urban expressway, SoHo's cultural cachet triggered a 'golden goose effect.'"

Samuel Zipp, "Living for the City," The Nation, April 5,2010.

Many activist's who have worked in neighborhoods and fought redevelopment of different kinds, including highways, probably have faced this ironic outcome. The market marches on -- all those myriad forces of gentrification. Even the fight itself draws attention.

Baltimore in the 1960s wanted to build a highway along its waterfront to connect up with 95. This swirling mass of highways would have destroyed Baltimore's inner harbor, the neighborhoods of Fells Point and Canton, and the remnants of Cannery Row.A big coalition of neighborhood activists and historic preservationists stopped the destruction. Over the next twenty years the harbor got Roused up and the projected ribbon of highway became Baltimore's "gold coast."

Lots of pros and cons-- increased tax base for a city on the brink, muddled traffic flow, and neighborhood change. In Baltimore's case, a healthy, evolving set of neighborhoods remains -- and prospers.

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