SkyscraperCity banner

21 - 40 of 41 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,687 Posts
Nature didn't technically take over. The city actively cleared that neighborhood for new industrial development. While it's true that people aren't clamoring to build new factories in the city, it's not as if this happened naturally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,687 Posts
I'm just saying...;) Those pictures give the impression that much of the city looks like that. Even in neighborhoods where vacancies are higher, that's not what it looks like. That particular neighborhood is the one and only neighborhood that looks like that and it looks like that because the city made it a point to "clean and clear" that entire neighborhood for non-residential purposes.

That's the problem I have with those types of photos. Those are cherry-picked selections to give the most dramatic possible image of the city. The reality is that most neighborhoods are far more mundane than that.

Most neighborhoods with high vacancy rates look like this:






One street will like like this:


But the next will look like this:


You'll see this:


and then a block later you'll see this:


When people hear the word "urban prairie" they think vast sweeping areas where virtually nothing exists. The reality is that a LOT of people still live in these supposed urban prairies. Condon and Poletown are the two neighborhoods pictured above. They have two of the lowest residential densities in the city.
 

·
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Joined
·
55,632 Posts
^^ Some cities like Buffalo have proposed demolishing many of those kinds of stubborn 'block sentinels' and landbanking the parcels for future uses or for a return to a natural state. But the natural state option is the least likely because wooded lots within blighted areas quickly become havens for crime.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
812 Posts
Does anyone know if there are urban praries in New Jersey? It has a big industrial/ manufacturing past just like some of the more abandoned areas of the idwest, so it seems plausible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
My guess is that the vast majority of those images were taken in the old St. Cyril's neighborhood.
Hi everyone. I'm the photographer who took the images being discussed here.

First, let me thank those of you who had kind words.

Second, I want to defend myself against some of the accusations being leveled here by hudkina, particularly the one above. hudkina is 100% correct about the story behind st. cyril's abandonment (something I have never shied away from writing about myself). In fact, hudkina echoes the very point that I made to Vice Magazine when they came to Detroit to write about journalists and photographers swarming the city for ruin porn. I was trying to make a more subtle point with Vice than the article states, that is, a camera doesn't lie about what's in front of it, but it does keep mum about what's behind it. I explained to them how I was guilty of taking one photo in a particular spot (the ONLY photo in that set from St. Cyril) that ignored the thriving industrial park behind me. I was trying to express how you can portray the city with your camera one way, but it can't possibly transport the viewer to the city himself to see the "complete" picture. . .this is the point hudkina is making and it is a good one.

I have a wide angle lens but I still haven't figured out a way for it to capture the entire city. What these photos show is only one way of telling a truth, which is the truth I am here most interested to tell.

That said, my photos in the "lost neighborhoods" set were taken ALL OVER the city. In fact, despite hudkina's accusations most are clearly identified where they were taken. The only one that came from St. Cyril was the car in the abandoned intersection from a higher vantage point. There are shots in there from all over the east side, from Brightmoor, from Southwest, and even Briggs and Poletown. I actually don't like shooting St. Cyril because most of the infrastructure has been removed and it doesn't look like a neighborhood at all. I do love going to St. Cyril with my birddog for pheasant "hunting." The streets are blocked off with Jersey barriers and the light posts, electrical wires, and abandoned homes are all gone. Even Jane Cooper School is dust now.

Detroit is an amazing city. Parts of it are disappearing and parts of it are just like any other city. My documentation comes from a point of view skewed towards highlighting how nature is reclaiming what is gone, and it is only one part of the city's story. Sadly, if there were more interest in well-kept blocks of suburban-style housing like you see in parts of the west side, I'm sure someone would be telling that part of the story too. And look, here's great article about just such a neighborhood:

http://wunderkammermag.com/politics-and-society/essay-detroit
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,535 Posts
Maybe only in small pockets, but by no means is the vacant land in Saint Louis nearly as widespread as say, in Detroit. The City of Saint Louis is highly urbanized, even in areas that have suffered decline. Sure, there are some neighborhoods with a lot of vacant lots, but they are peppered into the otherwise built-up landscape. Urban prairies exist in East St. Louis and some inner-ring suburbs moreso than in the City.
St. Louis is one of the cities which has lost well over half its peak population. That being so, it's really helped that most of the city was built of brick. Brick cities were built to last, Pittsburgh' another good example. At least they'll be standing in hopes of the next population wave.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,535 Posts
^^ Some cities like Buffalo have proposed demolishing many of those kinds of stubborn 'block sentinels' and landbanking the parcels for future uses or for a return to a natural state. But the natural state option is the least likely because wooded lots within blighted areas quickly become havens for crime.
On the other hand, there's poor Buffalo, it must rank among the top among US cities when it comes to proportion of housing made out of wood. Its just the opposite of St. Louis in terms of housing stock. Both cities are left with well under half of their population. But I'd guess that Buffalo's chances of retaining or restoring its housing stock are are much less.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,535 Posts
I don't think that Hartford has any "urban prairies". Areas with vacant lots scattered abound on the North End, sure, but nothing to the extent like some parts of Buffalo's east side, which I've only been to once and that was through a bus.
That Hartford isn't as depopulated as Buffalo owes mostly to that while its lost a of older residents, its also attracted LOTS more newcomers over the past several decades: Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, other immigrants from the Caribbean, Latin America etc.

Contrast with Buffalo's East Side, lots have left it, but no new big groups have come in since the southern African American migration ended circa 1960s.

It's very much the same story with Cleveland, Detroit, St, Louis & other badly depopulated cities. There's been no big in-migration to replace the outflow.
 

·
registered boozer
Joined
·
1,090 Posts
On the other hand, there's poor Buffalo, it must rank among the top among US cities when it comes to proportion of housing made out of wood. Its just the opposite of St. Louis in terms of housing stock. Both cities are left with well under half of their population. But I'd guess that Buffalo's chances of retaining or restoring its housing stock are are much less.
you make some interesting, assumptions about wood vs brick.

both have advantages. certainly brick does not rot, nor does it need to be painted and sealed the way wood does.

one should remember that brick houses still have wood frames, wood roofs, wooden support beams, etc. if these aren't maintianed in the same fashion as an entirely wood house, they will rot, and render the brick around them weak and crumbling.

you should also consider the affects of extreme climates. wood can flex and expand or contract with weather conditions. brick cannot. over the long term this can place an incredible amount of stress on brick as the frame supporting it will flex, but the brick will not.

consider san francisco, where much of the housing stock is wood. were much of it brick it would not survive the strain placed on it during earthquakes. wood survives quite nicely there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,535 Posts
VP, yes, San Francisco has a significant amount of wooden housing. But as you mention that owes to wood having better flexibility in earthquakes, which are not a problem in Buffalo.

I'm not sure why Buffalo ended up becoming such a wooden city. May have to do with a large lumber mill in Tondawana. Or early zoning ordinances meant to discourage apartment & tenment houses of the type that predominates in NYC.

But whats really pitiful is all the recent houses that have been built in Buffalo, nearly all wooden or vinyl, & wearing out quickly. Rather than any effort to upgrade the housing stock to brick, which in predominant in cities like Chicago, with similar weather conditions.

Seems more like a short-sighted program to keep the contracters in business, rather than creating a more sustainable city.
 

·
registered boozer
Joined
·
1,090 Posts
VP, yes, San Francisco has a significant amount of wooden housing. But as you mention that owes to wood having better flexibility in earthquakes, which are not a problem in Buffalo.

I'm not sure why Buffalo ended up becoming such a wooden city. May have to do with a large lumber mill in Tondawana. Or early zoning ordinances meant to discourage apartment & tenment houses of the type that predominates in NYC.

But whats really pitiful is all the recent houses that have been built in Buffalo, nearly all wooden or vinyl, & wearing out quickly. Rather than any effort to upgrade the housing stock to brick, which in predominant in cities like Chicago, with similar weather conditions.

Seems more like a short-sighted program to keep the contracters in business, rather than creating a more sustainable city.
i agree. the modern woodframe crap that seeing built in buffalo as infill(mostly through low income housing programs) is probably just a scam to keep construction moving along.

from what i've read, most great lakes cities were building predominately from wood, until large fires caused them to change building codes.
because buffalo never had one of these far reaching fires, it never made the move to more brick construction the way chicago or cleveland did.

detroit is still predominately wood, though it may have a higher proportion of brick than buffalo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,687 Posts
I would say Detroit is predominantly brick, at least after 40 years of housing deconstruction. While much of what was built in the 1910's and 1920's is woodframe housing, most of the stuff built in the 30's, 40's and 50's is brick.

A few examples from around the city:







In fact one of the biggest factors in what causes a particular neighborhood to decline is whether or not it was built in brick. The vast majority of brick neighborhoods in the city are in fairly good condition. It's only the areas where woodframe housing dominates that you'll see the stereotypical Detroit abandonment.
 

·
Fresh Coast
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
So I don't know if this would be considered an urban prairie, let me know what you guys think.

The Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee used be an abandoned industrial area off of downtown along the Milwaukee river. But in the last decade the city cleaned up the brownfields, incorporated some of the old buildings into natural parks, and built new industrial parks in it. So now it's cleaned up, partially natural (but definitely planned), with new buildings. Around 60 acres, used mostly for stormwater treatment from the surrounding new industrial parks.











 
21 - 40 of 41 Posts
Top