Saturday, October 30, 2010

Snapshot of Landmarks

We move from our neighborhoods, move onto bigger things, and look back with nostalgia.
We shamefully shake our heads, wondering what happend to our communities?
The buildings are turning to dust, and vacant lots stand naked in once dense urban blocks.
There are jokes make about bison taking back their land, and people around City Hall giggle at the prospect of becoming urban farmers.
Although, it doesnt seem so funny.
Children walk past boarded up buildings. The smell of stale air filters past their tiny noses.
They are forced to wear black and white uniforms, as they pass by burnt out shells of once great apartment buildings.
There are only faint lines of crosswalks graffii on the pavement.
Empty schools with demolision fences.
Empty schools with no prospects.
It is a wonder how we have let our communities go so far into disrepair.
I attended a landmarks design review meeting the other day... a landowner, business man, begging the board to let him demolish a house on his business' property. His business bought it twenty some years prior just for extra parking. After twenty some years of renting, and probably not much effort into maintaining it... the business wants to plow the greek revival cottage into a flat vacant lot.
Kind of amazing, right? America boasts itself on being able to own property, but noone wants to keep it up. Only make the biggest buck off of it, and then tear it down when the times are tough.
Yet, if things were developed to be sustained... would we be in this spot?
It makes me want to landmark everything, if not just for the record of it being there.
The more I research the more I see the imporance of someone in the future being able to find this little blurb about a random house on a random street. To see the random owner, and their century old history.
It does bother me that someone like that business owner who wanted to demolish their property could be so empty, but I realize that ignorance is the real battle.
We self-absorb to the point of having no reference for anything else. We dont want to take the time to fix up a property so that someone else may enjoy it, because after all that renter is the real plight of the community.
What I learned this week is that while ignorance will ultimately be the biggest hurtle to overcome, there is intelligence out there... it is just going to take a little effort to get everyone back on the same page.

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