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Wednesday, October 13. 2010
Via Reason, this remarkable portrait of a dead American city. It's not easy to kill a city without bombs, but unions, numbskull business managements, and corrupt pols did it there. Their "light rail" will be the tombstone before the whole city is plowed over to grow wheat or corn or trees or something.
Government did not build NYC's subways and trains. Businesses built those things to meet a profitable demand. Someday though, this absurdity in Detroit might be a tourist attraction - to ride a trolley through the vacant lots, wreckage, and abandoned buildings filled with feral dogs and cats.
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Detroit's suburb of Dearborn has distinction of being home to over 40,000 Muhammadans and America's Muslim Capital.
Let's see, Detroit has a surplus of unoccupied homes. San Francisco has a surplus of homeless people. Amtrak has a surplus of unused passenger seats.
I sense the potential for a big win-win-win all around!
Read the excellent blog, Dewey from Detroit. I'd give you the posts he has on his city, but your process for enclosing links is kinda cumbersome...:)
Here's the site address
D'ya think that a "landscape architect" from the 1980's should be the "designer of a restorative economy?"
D'ya think that a city which held in the palm of it's hand the entire largest world's industry and died during the most prosperous years of the century--d'ya think that city has the ability to recover?
D'ya think that that city is a living example of what we can expect from many of our cities in the "Brave New World"?
I hate to say this here-because, I know many of my friends with whom I agree on most things--many of you will be disgusted by what I have to say now. This city did not die because of Muslims--this city died because of the other two great religions: one giving too much, and the other not giving enough. It is a formula for disaster, that is why our founding fathers separated religion from politics. What happened in Detroit has already happened in parts of Los Angeles, will continue to evolve in parts of the south and the other industrial, very liberal states.
Detroit East Side here. The feral cats really are a problem, but there is an easy fix - adopt feral dogs. They keep the cats (and everyone else) away.
Not to worry Bumby, the feral cats & dogs will be good company for the feral politicians up there.
"Government did not build NYC's subways and trains. Businesses built those things to meet a profitable demand."
Not quite BD. It was the city which both funded and designed the NYC subway -- no private company had the means to do so. However the city did turn it over to a private operator once it was completed.
Only if you get your info from Wiki...
There were several companies & groups competing for rail service thru NYC, the Bronx, & Brooklyn in the latter half of the 19th century, with some of their projects (and already existing track) being incorporated into the early system.
I suggest reading this: http://www.amazon.com/Under-Sidewalks-New-York-Greatest/dp/0823216187
"It was the city which both funded and designed the NYC subway -- no private company had the means to do so"
Yes, but they built it after the economy (read, businesses) called for it, not as a green vanity project to "get people to understand the value of public transport" or "to get them out of their cars", and especially not when there's no money even to repair existing infrastructure or fund core services like the fire department or schools.
I don't disagree with that JT -- that's more or less what I thought the guy in the video was getting at when he said it was the city that built the rail (ie the economic conditions of the city which made it financially viable), not the rail which built the city.
This light rail plan reverses that, saying we must build the rail first and the development will follow. As though this were a new intercontinental RR with the suburbs representing Council Bluffs and the downtown being San Francisco, and the desolate areas in between to be new Laramies, Cheyennes, etc. There's some successful precedent for this but it's not the kind of risk private capital would be willing to take.
Went to Motown last summer and was stunned that such a city existed in America. They should have taken the advice of the MC5 in 1968 "Motor City's Burning" Burn that mofo down and let it go to seed.
The transcontinental railroad was in fact a private venture. Government granted the land rights and other perks to those building it, but it was constructed and operated privately.
The problem with Detroit is that it's a city too large for its own needs.
The demise of heavy industry after WW2 has caused much of the infrastructure to become redundant as denizens move away to places where there's still work.
As a result the city's population has dropped by a quarter of a million (if not more) over the last 40-50 years, while the city has kept building new and grand structures based on the needs of the higher population of days gone by.
And what we see here is exactly that. A railway link between a city center that's mostly empty shells of office buildings and stores and a suburb that's mostly empty lots and homes fallen into ruins, running along a 4-6 lane highway that sees a few cars every minute even at rush hour.
Were both city center and suburb inhabited to capacity that rail link would be needed to reduce the congestion on that road, but that's not the case. It'll be a rail link from nowhere to nowhere through nowhere (in contrast, the trans continental railroad ran from somewhere to somewhere through nowhere, and caused that nowhere to become somewhere).
It would be like running a shipping service between what would become Sydney and San Francisco in the 1500s, when neither the Americas nor Australia had yet been settled, and hope that those empty ships would magically fill up with people on mid ocean so those towns would appear on either end.
“that rail link would be needed to reduce the congestion on that road”
A tangential point, but the rail would not reduce congestion. This is a regular promise of the planners, and it never comes true. Rail merely adds capacity. There's no modern evidence that it actually makes the roads less congested.
People choose to drive up to a given level of congestion (travel time). Add a rail line and some will indeed ride the train (and capture the subsidy of convenience). But their spaces on the pavement will be taken by others who didn’t drive (there, then) before the rail was laid.
That, of course, only applies to routes where demand is at/beyond capacity. If Woodward is empty already, capacity is not a problem.
The transcontinental RR would never have been built without generous federal subsidies. At least not at the rapid rate at which it was completed. The entire venture was a scandalous mess of kickbacks and corrupt backroom deals involving government figures and businessmen alike. And even then the thing did not really make money.
I'm really not sure what to make of the need here to deny the role of the federal government in a lot of these major transportation projects. Long-distance transportation has been funded by central governments since ancient Persia's royal road. Inevitably it's going to take a partnership between govt and private parties to complete these very ambitious projects.
People like that arrogant woman are one of the three main reasons most big cities are in bad shape. Handouts (esp public housing, Top down city planning, and labor unions.
I'm not even going to rant about the public housing and unions.
People who think they can actually plan cities always cause more problems than they solve. Anybody ever notice in new multi-building developments and landscaped outdoor areas (like on college campuses with "quadrangles"), the side walks are rarely in the right places? There are always those dirt paths where everyone goes off the pre-planned sidewalk scheme in order to walk more directly to their destination.
If architects can't even foresee where people are going to walk in between buildings, how do they arrogate to themselves the ability to plan cities? But the concept of planning whole socially engineered cities almost from scratch still appeals to a certain kind of people. And those are people who should never hold any kind of power.
she probably got her training in city planning by playing a hacked copy of SimCity with the disasters turned off :)
this country doesn't practice free-market urbanism. it's strictly command-and-control when it comes to our cities, but of an arbitrary sort. this byzantine overregulation results in a situation where only the well-connected developer with the city council in his pocket and lawyers at his command has a chance of getting anything done. with usually terrible results for everyone but the developer and his buddies. that, plus the occasional vanity project by an arrogant mayor.
in truth, the only places where that sort of urbanism (free market) still happens are developing countries. the govts there are too poor to enforce the regs, so you get organic growth, a city expanding house by house and block by block. a user-built, truly democratic city.
Steven Crowder also has an excellent video on Detroit at his site.
There was on architect who did the sidewalks for an office complex differently. He didn't plan any, but told the owners to plant grass and let people walk where they pleased. After a period of time he told them to pave the paths.
There was/is a city planning philosophy that proposed if you improve an existing neighborhood the existing people will improve their behavior. (It proves the old addage of only having a hammer every problem is a nail.) This landscape architect is of that mindset -- lets build something and the X will change. Many liberals have this attitude because it avoids the messy process of working with people and the economy. JP
The architect who did not put in sidewalks until the paths were worn in the grass was Christopher Alexander.
We still need to deal with the obvious. Clearly this woman "leader" with a mid level degree from some backwoods university program (could well be a bad program in a major school) has never been challenged by her intellectual superiors. She never had to stand and defend. All she had to do was cut/paste and whine to her female mentor and the castratos in her "landscape architecture" program passed her on through. Then the Dems put her in an "elected" (by ACORN?) position and now WE THE PEOPLE have to put up with her ignorant and arrogant blind obedience to "The party". Too bad she never really learned anything out all about design.
How low does Detroit's population have to drop before she loses her incorporation?