It’s called “shrink to survive” and it may be coming to a Rust Belt, Midwestern city near you.
The idea is pretty simple. Big is bad in a bad economy. There are too many abandoned buildings and derelict homes in America’s cities, so rather than try to save these industrial parks and neighborhoods, let’s bulldoze them down and give them back to Mama Earth. And the Obama Administration is seriously considering this measure along with several other major metropolitan areas.
From the UK Telegraph:
The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.
Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.
Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.
Most are former industrial cities in the “rust belt” of America’s Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.
In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.
“The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we’re all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way,” said Mr Kildee. “Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity.”
I’m pretty sure my hometown of St. Louis is on that list of declining cities. (If not, it should be.) We have a major abandoned home, derelict building and toxic waste site problems in North City — (Carter Carburetor, anyone?) While I understand it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the notion that big may not be better, the idea of finally cleaning up a nightmare like Carter Carburetor and turning it into a grassy park sounds wonderful. Because, let’s be honest, what would the people of North City like more — unclean EPA Superfund site eyesore the size of a city block and a reminder of jobs they DON’T have or a giant lawn? I’m going with the lawn.
Unless it’s a historical landmark, it ain’t worth it. I say, knock it down.