Sprawl Killed My Hometown

Angie Schmitt has a very good post up at Streetsblog about the devastation that suburban sprawl has brought on the city of Cleveland.

(from Flickr user gwdexter)

When I lived in Cleveland, I often felt like sprawl wasn't an issue that was discussed openly and objectively enough. Bring it up, and the conversation would often regress to a simple defense of suburbs. To me, one problem was that few people were willing to stick up for the city. It was generally accepted that well-to-do people lived in suburbs because suburbs were objectively better. People preferred them over the city. It was just a better place to be. Not to mention that a good chunk of the few people still in the city wanted to move to the suburbs too.

Here's the thing... every American city has suburbs and every American city has sprawl. New York City has sprawl. Washington DC has sprawl. San Fransisco has sprawl. What Cleveland has is donut sprawl - nice suburbs surrounding a hallowed-out city. Cleveland has suburbs just as quiet and safe as I've seen in any other metro area. That's not the point. The existence of such a weak central city is hugely problematic. It ultimately hurts the entire metro area.

As Angie writes, maybe the federal government can guide Cleveland in the right direction, but the future still looks blurry.


    On September 19, 2010 bulldog_nation said...

    Overall I think you are right about the situation Cleveland is encountering. I do not think the federal government should become too involved, as that would be a step toward socialism. Cleveland really needs to attract some sort of business ventures to create more jobs. The local and state governments should definitely put more effort into reviving Cleveland. Tourism can also help boost their economy. With an improved economy, the sprawl of a failing city won’t affect the upper level suburbs they have to offer. Left unattended, Cleveland could become the next Detroit.