History

Monday Morning Links

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* Alan Ehrenhalt on the "demographic inversion" of American cities;

* Jack Shafer on what Murdoch wants;

* Ian Fortey on influential crackpot sexperts;

* and just for the hell of it, a socialist defense of disco.

NEXT: Team Obama

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  1. Mr. Ehrenhalt didn’t mention it, but Houston is another city that is showing the beginnings of a demographic shift, albeit in a spotty fashion.

  2. How soon before our central planners come here and take credit for the demographics shift?

    Taking credit for people who decided to move back downtown by themselves because it’s desirable, not because of some mandate. (psst – don’t tell – but’s this is the market at work).

  3. thanks, Jesse for the good reads.

    anon- “urban planners” planned university village. ditto what’s up at Division and Orleans. “Urban Planner” is a code word for you, it seems, and it’s probably a much richer, nuanced concept than the boogeyman scary scary “socialist mandate” you (seem to) describe…

  4. As a naturalist, I find it extremely interesting to track the migratory patterns of various species of hominids.

  5. The moral of Ehrenhalt’s story: shifts happens, so keep the zoning codes permissive.

  6. anon is kinda shrill. ‘Specially on Monday morning!

    re: the article, I do perversely like how cities are becoming demographically more and more like every techno-dystopia novel ever written.

  7. re: disco article

    Damn, I wish I had that kind of free time.

  8. the current inversion is less the result of middle-aged people changing their minds than of young adults expressing different values, habits, and living preferences than their parents.

    Its the market not planning. Just to pile on.

    I also agree with the point about deindustrialization of downtowns. The former pig-slaughter district in Louisville is being gentrified. No one wanted to live near the constant smell of rendered pork, but now that that is no more, the neighborhood is getting upscale shops/housing.

  9. The planner-induced return of the upper-middle class to the central city is certainly good news, but if the revitalization ends there, there isn’t much point.

    It’s important that the neighborhoods around the core downtown see benefits, too, and that the urban downtown doesn’t become just another isolated pocket of privilege, like the suburbs but with a different style.

    (Yeah, it’s wicked awesome how people who don’t know what the term “urban planning” means, but figure it’s gotta be kinda sorta like the industrial planning in the Soviet Unions, jerk their knees at the term. I always get a kick out of that.)

  10. Its the market not planning.

    That’s a false distinction. People in the market are making choices based on the options available to them, and redevelopment planning has expanded and altered the options. Successfully, apparently, since the very options the planners worked to expand are proving, as predicted, to be quite popular.

  11. A few thoughts on the crackpot sexperts. The biographies of Tissot and Graham show that the biology department is likely to have what ever hang ups are wide spread in the general population at the time. Both the oragnic chem enthusiasts and the organic food enthusiasts are human afterall. Graham’s theory about meat and the sex drive might be valid. Recent reports show that soy reduces sperm counts, which makes sense, because soy containts estrogen mimics. Red meat also has plenty of cholesterol, which is the building block of most sex hormones. Given the rampant malnutrition of the 19th century, perhaps people who ate less than average portions of meat would have had low testosterone levels, causing diminished sex drives. Now I know why my great-grandparents made a point of eating meat on the weekends. Thank heavens they did. Otherwise, they might not have become my great-grandparents.

  12. jtuf,

    I think the crackpot part is that he wanted people to not eat meat so they wouldn’t have sex.

    This was all the rage then. Cornflakes were invented to keep women from masturbating.

    Money quote from wiki:

    A follower of Sylvester Graham, the inventor of graham crackers and graham bread and supporter of sexual abstinence, Kellogg believed that spicy or sweet foods would increase passions. In contrast, cornflakes would have an anaphrodisiac property and lower the sex drive. This theory was carried out in the U.S. Army, which not only applied the theory orally, but also processed the cereal as a suppository.

    High fiber diet, indeed.

  13. re: disco article

    Damn, I wish I had that kind of free time.

    Well, it was written in 1979. You had do something while waiting in a gas line.

  14. I think it’s more likely that what’s going on is less an “inversion,” destined to ultimately end in the rich and poor merely switching geographic locations, than an economic desegregation.

    With the exception of the tiny fringe of uber-rich, the well off and the poor were not widely separated, geographically, for most of American history. There would be gentleman farmers’ spreads out in the country next to poor farmers’ little homesteads, and laborers lived on or near the properties of both. Big houses lined the major streets of the cities and towns, but modest homes were just around the corner, and little cottages on the back streets off of those. Even as neighborhoods with distinct economic characters developed during the industrial era, those neighborhoods were always close together, permeable, and linked by an accessible public transportation system.

    The extremes of rich-suburb-poor-city that we’re used to were a more recent phenomenon, produced by the designs of the post-WW2 sprawl era. Now, as the limits of that project are becoming more and more apparent, things are changing. I think what we’re looking at is a reversion back to the norm, and the sprawl project is going to stand out as an eccentric experiment that left its mark, but simply was not economically, environmentally, or culturally sustainable in its unadulterated form.

  15. joe,

    Successfully, apparently, since the very options the planners worked to expand are proving, as predicted, to be quite popular.

    This is like giving economists credit for predicting 10 of the last 6 recessions correctly.

    The planners are “right” and even for some of the “right” reasons, the expansion of options. But, the expansion of options isnt a feat of planning but of the free market, or at least a freer market. With even less zoning restrictions, this change would happen faster, smoothier, and with many cooler twists that we cant predict or “plan”.

    My city has spent countless amounts of money and multiple different “plans” for revitalizing the urban core. Starting from about the time, or just before, I was born. Lets turn 4th street into pedestrian only. Lets reopen 4th street to traffic. Lets build a mall in the middle of 4th street, blocking traffic again. Lets put a fountain in the middle of the river.

    The most recent two, a riverfront park and turning the dead mall into a Cordish area have been more successful. Not as successful as getting the hell out of the way would have been. Oh, and now they are building a new basketball arena downtown. We all have seen the evidence of how well that works.

    BTW, the mall one was my favorite for sheer brilliance. During the 80s when malls were popping up all over suburbia, they decided that since malls were popular, if there were a mall downtown, people would come back to downtown to shop. You can guess how well that would work.

    Oh, I was in St Louis a little over a week ago. The landing area is much cooler than the Cordish crap of 4th street live that we have. Local is the key.

    joe will Im sure distinguish between the “smart” planners and the “stupid” ones and how the stuff I was talking about isnt urban planning. Urban planning seems like a good idea to me if they work for private developers instead of government entities.

  16. The socialist disco article was funny. I couldn’t help but think of these lyrics and also these

  17. Crap. this should have been the second link

  18. robc,

    This is like giving economists credit for predicting 10 of the last 6 recessions correctly. Except that planners, unlike economists, don’t just predict, they act in ways intended to bring about changes.

    But, the expansion of options isnt a feat of planning but of the free market, or at least a freer market. With even less zoning restrictions, this change would happen faster, smoothier, and with many cooler twists that we cant predict or “plan”. Much of the loosening of zoning that allowed projects like the redevelopment of old mill buildings, for example, was pushed by the planners, over the objections of those who were just certain that the shoemakers were going to come back in a couple of years.

    My city has spent countless amounts of money and multiple different “plans” for revitalizing the urban core. Starting from about the time, or just before, I was born. Lets turn 4th street into pedestrian only. Lets reopen 4th street to traffic. Lets build a mall in the middle of 4th street, blocking traffic again. Lets put a fountain in the middle of the river. Gimmicks like pedestrian malls aside, I wouldn’t discount the importance of laying the groundwork for the market’s return. There are reasons that the city is seen differently than it used to be, and a lot of little quality of life projects that don’t seem too important in their own right can add up to a real change.

    Also, there is a big difference between the types of projects done to promote revitaliztion from 1960-1990 and those since then. In the past, there was an assumption that the differences between the city and the suburbs were all shortcomings that the city had to overcome, so you saw projects that added a lot of things like highways and parking lots to the central city – which served mainly to erode the assets the city has over the suburbs. This generation of planners is much more influenced by Jane Jacobs, so their efforts are aimed more at removing the barriers (physical, legal, whatever) thrown up by those who’d tried to make the urban core suburban, and leveraging the physical and historic and cultural assets of the cities and sparks for attracting investment.

    The most recent two, a riverfront park and turning the dead mall into a Cordish area have been more successful. Not surprising. Not as successful as getting the hell out of the way would have been. Of course not. That would violate a law of physics of something. We can know this high a high level of confidence, even though no one can ever point to a “getting out of the way/no public investment” strategy that has ever worked to revitalize a city.

  19. joe,

    With the exception of the tiny fringe of uber-rich, the well off and the poor were not widely separated, geographically, for most of American history.

    I think it was true even for the uber-rich. Before the days of high speed transportation, the servants HAD to live nearby. Heck, even slave housing was near the plantation house.

  20. I’m always struck by how differently the city was depicted during about 1070-1990, vs. before and after that.

    Take Central Park in sit coms. It went from the place where you took romantic rides in a horse-drawn carriage to the place where you got mugged and back again.

  21. I think it was true even for the uber-rich. Before the days of high speed transportation, the servants HAD to live nearby. Heck, even slave housing was near the plantation house.

    That’s a good point, but while the uber-rich could just stay in the big house and deal only with subordinates (be they maids or the managers of their factories), the regular-rich would actually get out and go to a job, and jostle in the streets with other people and buy stuff from the same street vendors as everyone else.

  22. Joe,

    Razing and redeveloping poorer neighborhoods and older buildings means a large amount of money to a local government in fees and new taxes. They make money coming and going during the whole process. Not to mention the fact that a professional class tends to have more in the way of things like medical insurance and job security.

    To what extent does this local government windfall promote a rush to demolition? Or do you think that I am overstating?

  23. joe,

    Of course not. That would violate a law of physics of something. We can know this high a high level of confidence, even though no one can ever point to a “getting out of the way/no public investment” strategy that has ever worked to revitalize a city.

    I can point specific examples of how failing to even get “half the hell out of the way” was a failure. When Cordish came into build 4th street live, they, like they do else where, bring in “national” restaurants/clubs/etc. So we have a hard rock. Sigh. Who frickin cares. They also put in some national chain comedy club. Before that was finalized, Louisville’s local private non-chain comedy club went to them and offered to move to downtown. They would pay the rent, take the spot. They are generally considered by the touring comics to be THE BEST (or at least one of the best) comedy clubs to work. At least outside NYC/LA. Best in middle America. Cordish turned them down. Suggested they sell out to the chain because Louisville isnt big enough for two. They were right, the random national chain club lasted less than 6 months. Comedy Caravan absolutely kicked their ass.

    Now, how does that apply, since this is corporate stupidity not planning stupidity? Well, if the city instead of working with Cordish to plan some big entity had just sort of loosely structured it and worked with local businesses, it would have been filled locally. There were a bunch of restaurants that offered to move to it too, that were also rebuffed. A lot of local restaurants have actually grown up around the area and are probably more successful than the ones inside the complex.

    The pig-slaughter thing I mentioned above is basically happening the way this should have. They are turning the slaughter house into a privately developed thing similar but with local businesses.

  24. joe,

    One more thing. Im not sure getting the hell out of the way would revitalize the city. This comes back to the means/ends argument we have had before. No need to rehash it here. I can say that without public investment the suburbs wouldnt have grown like they did (this is one of your points after all) so that failure to get the hell out of the way did a lot to devitalize the cities.

  25. mk,

    Vastly overstating. For one thing, everyone realizes that old Urban Renewal/Slum Clearance projects have been a miserable failure.

    Second, the middle class coming back to the city are doing so because they want to move to a real place, with a history and the evidence of that history. Razing old neighborhoods where you’re hoping to attract middle-class people would be the ultimate in counterproductive.

    The fees the city gets for a teardown and reconstruction are no higher, or not much higher, than those they get from a get-renovation of the same building. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, the local government would much rather see the renovation.

  26. I can point specific examples of how failing to even get “half the hell out of the way” was a failure.

    Which is, of course, not the same thing as having an example of a successful laissez-faire-induced revitalization. Pointing out that botched surgery can be harmful does not demonstrate that wheat grass and yoga are the best way to remove a tumor.

    But I agree wholeheartedly with your point about local/small scale vs. Big National. People can get all the Big National shite they want out on Route 24. Lots of parking, too. It’s the fine-grained localism where the historic city has a competetive advantage.

  27. I can say that without public investment the suburbs wouldnt have grown like they did (this is one of your points after all) so that failure to get the hell out of the way did a lot to devitalize the cities.

    Investment, and regulation too. Absolutely, the sprawling suburb (as opposed to the streetcar suburb) was a government project.

    I’m glad you pointed that out. I can think of one particular flagship libertarian publication that seems to have an allergy to acknowledging this point.

  28. joe,

    Absolutely, the sprawling suburb (as opposed to the streetcar suburb) was a government project.

    Basically, planners want the same people who caused the “problem” to fix it. I think the free market can fix it better. We just dont know what the solution will look like. I think that is the part the pro-planners dont like. The solution might not look like what they want. Heck, the solution might not look like what I want either, but Im man enough to live with it.

    Basically what Im saying is government planners of whatever type (urban, economic, social) are a bunch of pussy-boys who are afraid of leaping into the unknown. Man up, nancy boys.

  29. That is such a lame argument, as if it doesn’t matter what somebody actually does, if they hold the same job title and somebody who, 40 years ago, did something dramatically different.

    And the rather dramatic turnout in the fortunes of American cities demonstrates the silliness of that argument rather powerfully.

    BTW, the reason you keep harping on “the unknown” is because, once again, there isn’t a single example of laissez-faire induced urban retalization you can point to. No, robc, I’m not willing to condemn cities across American to the quite-well-known outcome that you consider a low price to pay in your quest to bash government. Because, you see, the well-being of cities isn’t a bandwagon I jump on and off of depending on whether it advances an ideological goal.

  30. joe,

    A terminology question that fits your field of knowledge: Is there a special name for a city that has become a suburb of another city? For example, the city I live in was founded in 1797. It wasnt a suburb of Louisville then. Heck, on a direct line to downtown there is another city founded about the same time (I think one year earlier) between us and Louisville. Now, technically Im also in Louisville after the city/county merger a few years back. But I figure there is a term (I think Ive heard it but cant remember) for an old city that has become a suburb. Ring city? I dont know. Thats why Im asking.

  31. robc,

    I don’t know of any such term. Just about all of the towns in eastern Massachusetts fit that criteria. I grew up in what was, when my parents moved there, a small town, and is now a suburb.

    Now, we’ve got a situation where older manufacturing cities have lost their manufacturing base, leaving only the same industrial parks on the outskirts as a new suburb; have seen considerable residential redevelopment in the urban core and old neighborhoods; and most the residents commute to jobs in suburban areas. Can a suburb be a suburb of a suburb? Can a CITY be a suburb of a suburb? Can a city be a suburb of a collection of suburbs?

  32. I figured if the term existed, someone in the Boston area would know it. πŸ™‚

  33. Maybe “suburban towns” instead of just “suburbs?”

  34. Is there a special name for a city that has become a suburb of another city?

    I believe the terms “exurb,” “bedroom community,” and “commuter town” have all been used, depending on the specific circumstances.

  35. “Exurb” being the most precise for what you’re looking for.

  36. Exurbs tend to be far-out farmland that saw surburban growth. It doesn’t really mean what robc was asking, since it applies to both towns that existed and became suburbs, and well as all-new suburbs built where there wasn’t a town at all before suburbanization.

  37. * and just for the hell of it, a socialist defense of disco.

    I did not RTFA because

    A) There is no way scialism can be used as a defense of anything other than poverty.

    B) There is NO possible defense of Disco.

  38. isn’t a single example of laissez-faire induced urban retalization you can point to.

    However, there are plenty of example of urban vitalization. Most cities were originally unplanned/unzoned, especially the older ones. laissez-faire was the rule of the day for most European cities. I know after the London fire, Hooke tried to straighten out and reorganize many of the streets, but he met resistance, especially if a building that didnt burn down was inconveniently in his way.

    There are counter examples. like Venice, I guess. I dont know how much planning went into it other than dumping a bunch of rocks in the water.

    In fact, it appears that laissez-faire tends to cause cities to develop in much the ways that joe, et al really like. I would assume if you went back to unregulated and unzoned it would eventually return to that form, or something similar but with a 21st century twist.

  39. robc,

    You overstate your case – most cities were carefully planned, from the time they ceased to be villages, especially in Europe.

    Somebody with official status laid out the streets. Somebody decided that Boston Common would be here and not there, and that it would be a common. Somebody built the city walls of so many European cities. Do you know where the term “No Man’s Land” comes from?

    But, regardless of all of that, the dynamics of a new city, springing up in response to some kind of economic advantage in a location are quite different from the situation facing a city that needs to be revitalized. By definition, a city that needs to be revitalized is facing some kind of impediment to attracting investment that the market alone isn’t solving.

  40. joe,

    a city that needs to be revitalized is facing some kind of impediment to attracting investment that the market alone isn’t solving.

    In most cases, it is City Hall. πŸ™‚

    The market isnt solving usually because there is too much meddling in the market. Or, maybe the market has determined that Detroit shouldnt exist. Is that a bad solution? Only if you have some sort of irrational attachment to the location. Ghost towns may sometimes be the correct result.

    And I realize I somewhat overstated my comment about European cities. The defense of the cities and the palaces and cathedrals were planned. But the winding streets and alley ways werent planned, they formed more organically.

  41. the middle class coming back to the city are doing so because they want to move to a real place, with a history and the evidence of that history.

    I hear what you are saying. I guess I am seeing this through the prism of my current location, Alexandria, where the historical homes aren’t being bought by the middle-class but the very rich. Outside of what are already designated historical houses and a few “quaint”(expensive) neighborhoods, everything is being torn down and rebuilt.
    Of course this is all driven by the market. Demand here is high. I just find it interesting that there are a few neighborhoods here that are protected for their historical value while nothing else is allowed to become historical.

  42. robc,

    In most cases, it is City Hall. πŸ™‚

    I know this is a beloved trope among the anti-government contingent, but City Hall didn’t make the industrial districts of the urban core less desireable for manufacturing. City Hall didn’t built the Interstates and take down the streecars.

    Deindustrialization, job migration, and the flight of capital to the suburbs were not a consequence of City Hall. There were great changes happening in the mid-20th century that went far beyond municipal government policies.

    And at this point, when urban blight itself is driving away investment – when undercapitalization has advanced to the point of creating a vicious circle – City Hall most certainly cannot be blamed.

    Is that a bad solution? Only if you have some sort of irrational attachment to the location. Or if your understanding of how cities changes includes the observation that the majority of the city gets left behind, ruining the lives of millions. Or if you realize that having a city crumbling into a crime-wracked, dystopian mess causes problems to spill way beyond its borders.

  43. Aww, come’on J sub D,
    There is no need to defend disco music because it is simply FUN music…
    I can just picture you 30 years ago cutting a rug in some tight bell bottoms jeans and butterfly-collar, polyester shirt. It’s OK to admit it now… πŸ™‚

  44. joe,

    Wasnt one of the points of the article that deindustrialization is what is leading to many of the people moving back to the cities? They fled becuase of industrialization (and having the ability to get away from it, financially and transportation-wise). They are moving back because of many reasons, but including that they wont have to live near industry.

  45. robc,

    Wasnt one of the points of the article that deindustrialization is what is leading to many of the people moving back to the cities?

    That’s true enough, but it ignores some important intermediate steps.

    I mean, the stinky industry in the heart of my city was dead by the 60s, but the real redevelopment didn’t happen until the 80s and 90s, and we were a pioneer in this field. That’s because the deindustrialization in the middle of the century left behind rotting, ugly, polluted, vacant hulks. It took quite a bit of effort to convince homebuyers and developers and banks that these places could be good to live. Deindustrialization also left behind vast amounts of poverty and very little economic opportunity, which further took its toll on the condition of the streets, sidewalks and city services, as well as the vitality of the service/entertainment businesses. This made the city even less attractive.

    It took a great deal of effort to turn these things around to the point where private capital strating trickling, then flowing, then flooding back in.

    (When I first moved into my mill, I could look out my living room window, across a canal, and watch guys drive around forklifts in the neighboring mill. It was cool, because they ran 24 hours, and the amount of light coming out of their windows and into mine was just enough to see where you were going in the middle of the night, but not enough to keep you awake.)

  46. joe,

    I think the last post may have a key to it – the market will solve the problem but it doesnt do it as FAST as the planners want. I think its possible to “plan” in a way that pushes the market the way its going anyway, but its still inefficient. Maybe the reason there are no laissez-faire revitalizations is that no cities have given it the time to work.

    Or, maybe, despite the series of plans over the last 40 years, it wasnt that the last one worked but that the market finally got around to it.

    Patience. I preach patience. Same problem Keynes had.

  47. robc,

    I think the last post may have a key to it – the market will solve the problem but it doesnt do it as FAST as the planners want.

    No, the fabric of a neighborhood doesn’t sit around and wait for eventual revitalization. Those vacant mills would NEVER have been considered a good place for large-scale investment, because the area they were in would NEVER have been decent enough to attract that investement – and the presence of the vacant, polluted mills would have guaranteed that.

    You say “as FAST as ‘the planners’ want them to,” as if a few generations of entrenched poverty, or not, is merely an aesthetic choice. There are some things that are more important than your anti-government ideology.

    I think its possible to “plan” in a way that pushes the market the way its going anyway, but its still inefficient. Perhaps an argument can be made that the efficiency of public-sector investments, measured in GDP growth per dollar spent, is lower than that of, say, tax cuts or something else. There are legitimate goals other than overall GDP growth.

    Or, maybe, despite the series of plans over the last 40 years, it wasnt that the last one worked but that the market finally got around to it. Maybe, but that’s unlikely. When the development that is attracted is precisely the type called for in the plan, and when the developers call out precisely the assets (the open waterfront, the arts district, the preserved architecture) that the plan promoted as the reason they are investing here, and when the same basic model keeps being replicated in different places with the same result coming about, it would take a remarkable set of coincidences to claim that the planning and revitalization projects didn’t play a role.

  48. joe,

    it would take a remarkable set of coincidences to claim that the planning and revitalization projects didn’t play a role.

    Wny is it magically working now and not from 1960-2000 or whenever?

    I do think they may have finally found the things the market would have done eventually and just pushed it via “incentives”. Just like with suburbs, there is no doubt that government subsidies can lead people to move. People WANTED out of the cities, the road subsidization made the want affordable. Now people WANT back into the cities, the government spending may make it more affordable. But, in both cases, it was going to happen to a certain extent anyway.

    To answer my question from above – the current younger generation wants it. The previous one didnt, so even with the incentives, the government couldnt make it work.

    your anti-government ideology.

    My ideology is pro-government. It is just really, really tiny and doesnt get involved in things like this. Im not an anarchist. Im a picoarchist. πŸ™‚

    Those vacant mills would NEVER have been considered a good place for large-scale investment, because the area they were in would NEVER have been decent enough to attract that investement – and the presence of the vacant, polluted mills would have guaranteed that.

    Bullshit. Once the ratio of the price of the land to the price of the land around it got small enough, it will have been a prime spot for large-scale investment.

  49. robc,

    Wny is it magically working now and not from 1960-2000 or whenever?

    1960-1990, and because the projects and ideas are very different.

    Spending pubilc money to level a few blocks of houses and storefronts in order to build a strip mall with a big parking lot is going to have one effect on a surrounding city neighborhood. Providing low-interst loans to the owners of those storefronts to make their properties more attractive for businesses who might locate there is going to have a different effect – and please note, I’m not just talking about the storefronts themselves, but the entire neighborhood, which now has businesses where there would have otherwise been empty storefronts.

    I do think they may have finally found the things the market would have done eventually and just pushed it via “incentives”. That’s not quite right. The market may well respond to the presence of some museums and a nice waterfront by building condos, but that’s quite a bit different from saying that the market would have created those museums and opened up that waterfront.

    Now people WANT back into the cities, the government spending may make it more affordable. No, that’s not right. Cities were far more affordable in 1981, but nobody WANTED to move there. Residents, investors, developers, and businesses haven’t returned to the city because it’s become cheaper, but because it’s become more desireable.

    To answer my question from above – the current younger generation wants it. The previous one didnt, so even with the incentives, the government couldnt make it work. The older, pre-boomer generation wants it, too. They got chased out the cities by their decline, and were sad about it, but they didn’t want to move back when they were hell holes. Now that they are decent places again, old “white flighters” are moving back.

    Bullshit. Once the ratio of the price of the land to the price of the land around it got small enough, it will have been a prime spot for large-scale investment.

    That’s where you’re wrong. A lot of big industrial sites actually had negative values. Because of the cost of pollution and demolition, and because the condition of the surrounding area didn’t make any investment in developing those properties worthwhile, it would have taken large cash infusions just to get them back to where they were worth nothing. That’s why so many of them were simply abandoned and fell into tax title.

  50. joe,

    Cities were far more affordable in 1981, but nobody WANTED to move there.

    This just drives home the point about all the idiotic spending cities did trying to get people back downtown. You know, they could have just lowered taxes from 1960-1990 instead. Would have done a lot more good for the cities. My mayor was doing these idiotic things in the mid 80s. He was involved in some of those idiotic projects (mall in middle of road, fountain). He has been mayor-for-life for a long while now.

  51. joe,

    that’s quite a bit different from saying that the market would have created those museums and opened up that waterfront.

    art galleries and a waterfront golf course.

  52. The idea of demolishing Cabrini Green came out of the planning department, and was carried out as part of the Hope VI Program.

    If you make a point of not knowing anything about government except how to spell it, you tend to make really stupid arguments about the government.

  53. Aww, come’on J sub D,
    There is no need to defend disco music because it is simply FUN music…
    I can just picture you 30 years ago cutting a rug in some tight bell bottoms jeans and butterfly-collar, polyester shirt. It’s OK to admit it now… πŸ™‚

    rana, you are an evil person. That is too damned close to the truth.

  54. robc,

    This just drives home the point about all the idiotic spending cities did trying to get people back downtown. You know, they could have just lowered taxes from 1960-1990 instead. Would have done a lot more good for the cities.

    During the economic expansion of the 1980s, the abandonment of urban centers actually increased.

    People with money don’t invest it in places where the market fundamentals don’t make sense. If you can’t make money building condos in Detroit because you can’t sell them, it doesn’t matter what the tax rate is.

    Changing the fundamentals of investing in development in a city – that is, making the city a more attractive place for living and working – has worked to attract capital. The fact that previous efforts to do this didn’t work just demonstrates that those efforts were poorly thought out.

    Pedestrian malls as a revitalization strategy aren’t a bad idea (in most places) because of ZOMG teh government! They’re a bad idea because they don’t actually make the location more attractive for investment.

  55. Yep joe. Urban planners got Cabrini Green
    Urban planners got it demolished. The taxpayers are strangely unimpressed.

    I notice you didn’t address the Brush Park article I also linked to. With your vast and intimate knowledge of all things Moor City, surely you can discuss that wonderful success story.

  56. Should be – “Cabrini Green erected”.

    Perfection continues to elude me.

  57. The link didn’t work.

  58. Nice sunk cost fallacy, though, J sub D.

    Because urban planners were wrong about building Cabrini Green, it is foolish to listen to the later generation of urban planners who recommended its demolition and designed the development that is successfully replacing it.

    Instead, we should listen to the people who said that the planners who designed the replacement of Cabrini Green can’t do any good.

    Because, after all, they work for the government. Ergo, they were wrong, despite how successful their plan has been.

  59. The link didn’t work.
    Lemmee try again. I told you I wasn’t perfect. Especially in internetology. Brush Park, Detroit.

    With a bonus photo (still standing, vacant and rotting).

  60. joe,

    Because, after all, they work for the government. Ergo, they were wrong, despite how successful their plan has been.

    This is the same argument the NASA supporters make too. “Look at all the great things NASA gave us! We never would have had them without NASA.” True enough, but what was the opportunity cost? They never answer that. What would we have purchased instead if the money had just stayed with the taxpayers?

    My personal guess is multi-angle DVD porn before 1980.

  61. joe, the Detroit Lions have sucked for 50 years. It is a good bet they will continue to suck. The idiot fans still believe that this year, they will turn it all around. I, on the other hand, realize that the same clowns are running the franchise as in the past and expect continued failure.

    I feel much the same way about urban planners. Yeah, there have been some successes interspersed with the failures, but even a plind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

  62. J sub D,

    I’ll respond to your ability to find an example of plan that didn’t work by shouting ENRON ENRON ENRON, thereby making exactly as strong an argument about the efficacy of the private sector.

    Which is to say, absolutely none at all.

    I’m against bad planning, and for good planning. Pointing out that there is bad planning means nothing to me.

  63. JsubD,

    Calvin Johnson is your acorn.

  64. joe,

    There were good NASA missions too, like the moon landing. That doesnt mean it justifies its opportunity cost.

    My mom thinks that if only the right politicians were elected, government would be okay. Then she hates all the candidates. She refuses to add up 2 and 2.

  65. even a plind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

    And knowing you as well as I do, you will continue to insist that the successful strategy of urban revitalization taking hold across the nation is simply a number of outliers.

    Right up until you are forced to admit that it is a large enough movement to require recognition.

    At which point you will observe that most of the investment came from the private sector, ignore the fact that attracting that investment was the purpose of the plans from the beginning, and the fact that this flood of private investment only developed after the implementation of this redevelopment strategy, and insist that the whole thing would have happened without planning anyway.

    Oh, and also, you will argue that the cities were destined for decline and abandonment as the market demanded, and that revitalizaiton efforts are doomed and contrary to nature, then switch to arguing that of course the market was going to come in an save them, all on it own.

  66. robc,

    There were good NASA missions too, like the moon landing. That doesnt mean it justifies its opportunity cost.

    If the opportunity cost is “we could have let that city remain a crime-wracked slum in exchange for 0.002% additional GDP growth,” I don’t care. There are goals besides economic efficiency that are worth striving for.

    If the opportunity cost is “if we’d spent that money on tax breaks for city businesses and residents, and it would have revitalized the city better and faster,” I’ll repeat my argument that lowering taxes won’t turn a place that people fear into one they desire.

  67. I should post a picture of a burning tank and insist that J sub explain how we can ever trust general-grade military officers to formulate a battlefield strategy.

  68. JsubD,

    Calvin Johnson is your acorn.

    He’s the real deal, yes.

    So was Barry Sanders, the greatest running back EVER.

  69. joe,

    Other than the general problem of government spending, my more specific problems with the plans done here had to do with attempts to “revitalize the urban core” at the expense of the rest of the county. It made some sense before the city/county merge.

    One thing they did during the late 90s was create “e-main”. It was a Tech corridor along part of main street, try to attract Tech businesses with tax breaks and etc. Out in the county, there was already an area nicknames “Silicon Hollow”, a number of tech companies centered in a couple of business parks next to each other. It had a larger tech community than e-main did. Bigger companies too.

    Anyway, at the time of the city/county merger, I asked a local chamber bigwig if with the merger (which I opposed by the CoC was pushing) if e-main would get moved out to the Hollow, where it clearly belonged. He looked at me like I was an idiot. My point was, and still is, that I didnt see an advantage to any particular neighborhood in the city (like the core downtown) getting preferential treatment.

    They are doing the same thing with the new basketball arena. The obvious place to build it is at the fairgrounds, instead of downtown. It will be cheaper, parking to handle it already exists, its right next to the airport, road systems to handle traffic already exist (its where the current arena is). However, they took about all the restaurants and etc around the downtown arena (which doesnt exist at the fairgrounds) will benefit and blah blah blah. Of course, the people were going to spend that money anyway, but instead of spending it in the downtown core area, it would have been spread around the county. I dont see the advantage of “hurting” 1000 businesses a little to help out 10 downtown. But I dont understand redistibution anyway.

  70. joe,

    I should post a picture of a burning tank and insist that J sub explain how we can ever trust general-grade military officers to formulate a battlefield strategy.

    I wouldnt except they tend to fight against other government generals.

  71. Gosder Cherilus was an acorn, too.

    That guy is a legit starting left tackle, THIS YEAR. No kidding, he’ll be in the Pro Bowl.

  72. Reggie Ball
    Jon Kitna

    Who the hell did Calvin Johnson murder in his previous life?

  73. robc, is your new basketball arena taxpayer supported (AKA corporate welfare)?

    BTW, where do you live? Please forgive me asking, I’m sure you’ve mentioned it previously.

  74. My 4:10 post is filled with typos. Have fun interpretting it. Sorry about that.

  75. Gosder Cherilus was an acorn, too.

    That guy is a legit starting left tackle, THIS YEAR. No kidding, he’ll be in the Pro Bowl.

    We shall see. He is a Lions first round pick though. I’m expecting criminal charges to be filed any day now. πŸ˜‰

    Reggie Ball
    Jon Kitna

    Who the hell did Calvin Johnson murder in his previous life?

    Nuns, I guess. A whole lot of nuns.

  76. robc,

    That sounds like a really dumb strategy. I doubt the planners came up with it.

    Cities have assets that the suburbs don’t have, and in many cases, can never have. Efforts to revitalize cities need to focus, surprise, on leveraging their competitive advantages. Efforts to copy the suburbs are doomed to not only fail, but often to erode those competitive advantages.

    My point was, and still is, that I didnt see an advantage to any particular neighborhood in the city (like the core downtown) getting preferential treatment.

    Because it needs it, in order to be asset for the region, rather than a debit.

    Even if you aren’t moved by the interests of the people in the city (who are also going to be the least able to leave if the city just spirals downward), don’t you see your interest in having New York 2008 instead of New York 1987 nearby? The lower crime? The more fun that you can have? A location where there is enough of an agglomeration of knowledge and creativity that it cane be a cente of innovation (economic and cultural), as cities have always been? And what that would mean for the regional economy?

    It’s not good to have a big black hole nearby. It’s better to have a sun.

  77. is your new basketball arena taxpayer supported (AKA corporate welfare)?

    Of course. I wouldnt be bitching if it was private. They could build it wherever they wanted. If it was stupid, it would be there problem. The primary tenant will be the University of Louisville basketball team. Which answers your other question. They didnt really want a downtown arena, they wanted an on-campus one, but since the fairgrounds and the campus basically border each other, they would have been okay with the fairgrounds. The mayor-for-life wanted it downtown though. The GLINC people (Greater Louisville Inc, our Chamber of Commerce) wanted it downtown. The NCAA wanted it downtown too, they said we couldnt host a regional at the fairgrounds anymore because they wanted a stadium where the hotels and restaurants and postgame partying were all within non-driving range of the arena. I figured for the cost difference in the two arenas we probably could have got a “free” light rail system from the airport->fairgrounds->campus->downtown, which would have solved that problem too, I think.

  78. He is a Lions first round pick though. I’m expecting criminal charges to be filed any day now. πŸ˜‰

    I can only surmise that, somewhere in Division 1 football, there exists a man named who Choster Gerilus, who is a blinding-fast wideout with a history of firearms charges, baby-mommas, and knee injuries.

    Just a little mix-up. That’s gotta be it.

  79. my god joe has made this site unreable. i keep hoping he’ll go away.

  80. joe,

    I dont see what that core needs to be in the location it used to be. Just as a hypothetical, why cant the center of innovation and blah blah blah be in Middletown instead. We were founded in 1797 (as I mentioned) vs the 1780 for Louisville. It aint like that 17 years makes a real difference. If the market shifts things outward for some reason and forms a new center and then it rotates to another part of town 100 years from now then across the river for a bit and then back, that is all okay by me. Or maybe the core can be dispersed relatively evenly. Whichever.

    The more fun that you can have?

    Part of the never-spoken-out-loud-but-everyone-knows-it reason for the creation of 4th street live was that many of the highlands residents were bitching about the Bardstown/Baxter corridor. It was a fun, party to 4 AM, bar hopping, dance club happening area of town. Had been forever. But it was expanding. It wasnt in a suburb either, the Highlands is in the city but outside the downtown core. They are upper-middle class liberals and big supporters of the mayors. They didnt like people parking on their streets and pissing in their yards (okay, I understand the last one). So, simultaneously, 4St Live gets created and a crack down on liquor licenses happens.

  81. I think Detroit might have passed on CJ if he hadnt admitted to smoking some weed. He needed something bad in order to give him a chance to flame out.

  82. From wiki:

    Downtown Louisville began a modernization period in the 1890s

    We are in our 3rd century of this…sigh.

  83. robc,

    For one thing, you need the intensity of use and population to generate the critical mass of spontaneous interactions. You can’t do that in an office park, and you can’t “disperse it evenly.” There needs to be a there there.

    Which isn’t to say that the center of some other little city can’t become such a place.

    Second, it isn’t a question of whether you’ll have such a downtown or have, I don’t know, an open field. You’ve got a city center. It’s going to be something. If a city center isn’t growing, it’s dying. And not “gracefully fading away,” but dying, going through death throes, which tend to express themselves as carjackings, unemployment, arsons, and the rot spreading into nearby neighborhoods.

  84. arsons

    Fire cleanses. πŸ™‚

  85. Second, it isn’t a question of whether you’ll have such a downtown or have, I don’t know, an open field.

    From looking at the satellite images of Detroit, it looks like open fields is an option.

    JsubD?

  86. Reggie Ball

    *curls up in fetal position*
    “No Reggie! Just tuck it and run, don’t wing the ball blindly downfield!”

  87. Butts,

    Hey, it worked when CJ was in the general downfield direction.

    Its the 4th Quarter of the ACCCG. Its rainy and Im miserable but at least Tech is up. We have the best running back in the ACC. So what does Nix do? He decides to rely on Reggie Ball’s arm for the entire quarter. I go hoarse from yelling “Hand to to 22”. I hope he is OC at Miami forever. They deserve him.

  88. From looking at the satellite images of Detroit, it looks like open fields is an option.

    JsubD?

    Downtown is actually looking up, thanks to the Ilitch family and Peter Karmanos (Compuware). Quicken Loans is making noise about moving downtown from the ‘burbs as well. Ever the cynic, I’ll wait until they break ground on the new headquarters.

    OTOH, the neighborhoods (especially on the Easy Side) are reverting back to forest. That is not an exaggeration.

    I’d like to see southeast Michigan admit that the auto industry is not going to grow here any more. And fix about twenty seven other things that are self inflicted wounds.

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