Hope for Cities

A few years ago I stumbled across some incredible photos of New York City on the SkyscraperCity discussion board. The photos are so stunning for the simple fact that New York, during the 60s and 70s, looked like nothing short of a war zone; and if you look closely, there are several photos where you can easily recognize streets and blocks that are now some of the most desirable in the city.

(from meophamman on Flickr)

These photos are the reason why I don't believe you can give up on a city, any city, no matter how hard times have gotten there. Someone looking at these photos at the time when they were shot would have been completely justified in believing that New York was hopeless, doomed, and would forever be a brutal, dangerous place where people wouldn't go. Time has show that to be anything but the truth.

3 comments:

    These photos are the reason why I don't believe you can give up on a city, any city, no matter how hard times have gotten there.

    New York isn't any city. Much urbanist discussion tends to be very NYC-centric, and I sometimes wonder if there are any lessons you can learn from NYC that are actually applicable elsewhere.

     

    New York probably isn't a good model for generalizing. It has above-average wealth concentration, economic opportunity (lots of jobs that don't require English proficiency or abstract skills -- think cabs and restaurants), public infrastructure, and political commitment to social programs. And density.

    I can't think of a way to save dying cities unless they can figure out a new kind of economic engine.

     

    It has above-average wealth concentration, economic opportunity ...
    And a really strong attraction to many many people, beyond the economic opportunity.