By - XxJoedoesxX
One of the biggest problems with american cityplanning is, that you have built huge malls outside the citycenter. This drains the citycenter from shops, cafés and just results in dead citycenters. In Denmark, where I live and work as a cityplanner, we try not to do the same mistanke. Only now we are facing huge problems with online shopping instead. So we need to re-think the function of our cities to keep them alive and interesting to visit.
In Japan, we rely on a lot of public transportation so around the stations are shops and restaurants and even malls. There are so many pop ups, small shops, events, and parks to draw people into different places.
Love that about Japan. Lived in Tokyo for an year and never once thought about needing a car. Even traveled outside Tokyo a lot. My wife is from chiba and she never drove a car either
iirc tokyo has the lowest rate of car commutes among metro areas at about 10%, thats better than amsterdam which a lot of people jerk off to
Amsterdam has better bike infrastructure. Tokyo still has most people cycling anyway despite that, and there's plenty of bike parking available, but in terms of the experience of actually cycling, it's really popular in Tokyo more because it's extremely practical due to the distances being in the sweet spot rather than it being actively encouraged by urban planning, unfortunately.
Otherwise though I think Tokyo does fantastic with mixed-use neighborhoods and definitely has most places beat in public transport convenience. Station spacing is usually on ten minute walks, with an abundance of high frequency rail, and many connections making up more of a web of rail rather than being overly core-focused.
i also think housing might be cheaper in tokyo compared to amsterdam but housing is something japan does well on compared to other developed or developing nations
The zoning is very permissive and there aren't really a whole lot of protected historical buildings in Osaka or Tokyo, plus incentives to tear down old buildings in order to build things to higher earthquake standards. Definitely agree.
A YouTube video taught me that while land was valuable the actual housing is not treated as an appreciating asset like USA/Canada? It is more utilitarian, depreciating asset like a vehicle in the US. Does this sound accurate?
Also a shrinking population and near zero net immigration probable means less pressure on housing demand?
The cost of rail ends up being weirdly prohibitive in the Netherlands. I think round trip between Utrecht and Amsterdam (40km) is around €20. As you scale that up to houses with more people, cars end up being cheaper for incidental trips.
It's very frustrating; I would much rather take a day trip with my family by train, but as my kids aged out of the €2,50 day passes, using a shared car subscription started to become the more affordable option. Sometimes half the cost.
Is it better in Japan?
That is positively cheap compared to taking UK trains. I'm a bit jealous
That was exactly my thought too. Would love a £20 round trip, even with a rail card I can't get to the next major city for under £30
Nah, taking trips is also where it starts to get kind of expensive in Japan. I haven't lived there extensively but I've been there enough to kind of know. Hakone is a pretty great day-trip from Tokyo and I think it's pretty affordable but even if you only take the local fare it's somewhere around 1000 yen per person each way I think.
I think many families tend to rent cars to go longer distances for day trips with the whole family, if they can, because it does save a bit of money. Though Tokyo has lots of road tolls too so you have to consider that.
There's also lots of highway buses which can be cheaper if you really want to save money.
Still I think if you're at the point where you're considering taking 4 people in a shared car instead in order to save money, you're kind of utilizing cars well.
Sadly the same in Germany. The 9 euro ticket here is an absolute game changer in that regard, so I really.hope something comparable will continue.
But in any case, a lot of regional rail infrastructure is in dire need of investment and modernisation with 25 minutes delays on a 20 minute journey or absolutely overcrowded trains.
How did they manage 25 min delays?
price for roundtrip is 16.80 euro, not 20 but i get your point and indeed you are right.
still car sharing used by 4 people is better than the usual "truck drived alone" . the trick with car sharing is that you don't need to pay for parking.
for trains, ns does some discounts but you need to spend some time on their website, finding the right offer.
in Japan the average family size is a bit smaller then the Netherlands, also Tokyo is kind of different from the rest of the nation, so the whole discussion becomes a bit more complicated
Indeed Amsterdam is a city where lots of people take car AND has a wonderful, extensive and secure bike infrastructure.
on top of that there's also a good public transportation but coverage in some areas is a bit meh
I like that you can always find a car rental service for road trips too. I’ve rented a car for $30/day. My in-laws recommended me not to buy a car unless I moved to the countryside. The maintenance, insurance, car payments, and yearly inspection ($1000+) is not worth the amount of times you’ll use a personal car.
I’m curious. What are some of the things you’re doing to combat that and keep them alive? Also how big of a problem is online shopping and food delivery services actually having?
Rezone and let more people live in the centre? Let the centre naturally cater to more restaurants and coffee shops which aren’t as vunerable to online shopping? More public meeting spaces
dunno about denmark in particular but i think a lot of european countries already let people live in the center by right, so rezoning wouldnt change much if anything
Also people in city centres use online shopping and food delivery also.
They don't care. They realized that they can just hide in their country clubs and private yachts.
The USA destroyed itself to be racist pathetic lol they hated non white so much they ended up destroying their own cities and quality of life.
Truth be told if you want to deal with bad design you need to point out that it is a negative to Everyone. Cause racism is ethno nationalism self destructive to everyone involved
Delivery services can eat them up too.
Not entirely. People and groups generally still want to meet in public spaces. It’s very intimate to invite people you don’t know well to eat food in your home (and strange if it were cooked elsewhere)
most of those huge malls are derelict or going that way, partially thanks to online shopping. are you talking about strip malls because those are smaller and are a big part of american sprawl
Most but not all, at least. I actually like malls, in that I like being out of the weather and easily able to window shop and visit dozens of stores. And with snacks available.
It's the location and sometimes the scale that are the problem. I've been to some vibrant downtown malls that don't necessitate a car, and those can be great. Hell, I used to walk to one to get my hair cut, buy a pretzel, and browse on any random day.
Pretty bad for the environment
The air conditioners never stop running
Still I like that you can go with family/friends to have a good time
air conditioners by themselves are not a bad thing, like you could easily power those a/c units with clean energy, it just takes a bit of effort. and even if you dont want to do that, there are some novel ways to cool spaces while using even less energy than an a/c uses
Us malls usually have giant roofs that would be perfect for solar.
Not just malls but massive stores as well. American infrastructure kills small businesses and benefits big business
big businesses will always have the economies of scale on their side, its why chain stores are in pretty much every country, like ikea was founded in sweden after all lol. so its not just an american infrastructure thing
It encourages people to overconsume cheap things they don't need and instead of making meaningful purchases at higher quality, unalienated, socially integrated local businesses. Quantity over quality in multiple levels. The whole world economy is based on moving stuff around before quickly throwing it away whereas back in the day things like furniture and houses were repaired and lasted centuries. What a waste.
And funny how in OECD stats we are all richer than our ancestors because we have two dozen pairs of shoes rather than the one which needs resoling every so many years. Truly the cost of everything/ value of nothing phenomenon.
Find me the money to pay for everything high quality
The point is that instead of spending money on things they don't need, people should spend that money on fewer things of higher quality.
You can't open big businesses In small business zones where you can have small shops close to residential areas. In America if you need to buy things you need to drive so you might as well go to a big box store whereas in other Countries you could just walk to a nearby small business because it's more convenient. Big box stores will always be cheaper but not always more convenient depending on infrastructure and zoning laws.
I just think American infrastructure and zoning laws give a lot more benefits to big businesses and encourages people to shop at these places more than small businesses.
Oh gosh, have you ever read Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man. There is a whole side arc that is basically about malls sucking the life out of cities.
>So we need to re-think the function of our cities to keep them alive and interesting to visit.
Out of interest, as a city planner, what conclusions are you drawing about future city functionality?
It strikes me that cities have the opportunity to become extremely pleasant places in the absence of consumerism. We can focus more on building big, open public spaces full of vegetation and other wonderful things, and place more emphasis on the emerging decentralised economy via affordable coworking spaces. The fundamental purpose of a city is to bring people together after all!
Furthermore, it's an opportunity to harmonise architectural styles and create places of beauty rather than the dystopian concrete jungles of competing brands. Florence, Rome, and Freiburg are examples of cities that look and feel beautiful due to the aesthetic synergy of buildings/structures complimenting one another rather than competing.
>This drains the citycenter from shops, cafés and just results in dead citycenters.
Is it really that straightforward? I know it appears to have happened in many places but I also think that nowadays, as more and more people shop online, the dynamics should be reconsidered.
What’s wrong with fisketorvet?
We call that "White flight" in these parts
If you put a lot of shops in the city center how do you guide traffic to stay outside?
You make sure that you easily can lead the cartrafik around the citycenter, and you make sufficient parkinglots/buildings connected directly to these roads. This makes is possible for the visitors to park outside the center and walk to the center. If it's a bigger city, you need good public transportation to the center to strengthen the infrastructure. Also it has to be "difficult" and expensive to drive /park the car in the center. Otherwise nothing will change since most drivers want to park their car as close to the shop as possible. Many older european cities are planned with a natural dense center with a citywall around it (look at Verona and Wien) which makes it a little easier to keep the cars outside (if you really want to). A lot of modern cities (USA) are build as a huge grid, which makes it more difficult because the center is more spread out, and the distances larger.
Here in my hometown, northern germany, they've built a mall in the city center in the 70s. Now it's abandoned thanks to the willingness to drive 50km to the next big city to shop there instead. Sadly, only a few shops are still open outside that mall, but inside city center, and mostly they are turkish fast food stands or bakeries and cafés. Only two clothing shops survived here
Is that even the result of planning in America? It seems more like capitalism doing its thing. Some developer comes along, buys some relatively cheaper land outside the city, and builds a mall. And if this proves profitable for the developer, then it will be replicated all over the country. It doesn't seem like city planners can do much about this - I imagine you'd need big changes to laws and so on to be able to stop it.
Right. Under our system of capitalism, there's a strong financial incentive to build a new structure nearby rather than reinvest in an existing one. And we've gotten used to abandoning old spaces for new ones. There is a period now when those malls are being abandoned, in some places the inner core are was rediscovered as a "new" area, so the inner core's been seeing redevelopment (and of course, displacement). It's a pretty destructive cycle, when in theory neighborhood could grow and adapt regularly and incrementally over time to stay current. But you don't see that a lot in the US anyway.
How do you get into city planning?
Connect em malls and build a huge inner city.
Shopping for unneeded things should not be the point of a city center. I've lived in the suburbs of a big metropolitan area my entire life, I've taken the train into the major downtown so many times throughout my 30-something years and never once has it ever been to go buy a random thing in the big streets upon streets of shop after shop. I always go for something I need to do from the government, or to visit a museum, or to eat/drink at a recommended restaurant/cafe/bar, or go to an event (like a concert or festival). All these things still cost money and contribute to the city economy. Never ever have I gone to simply "shop" for clothes or knickknacks (even before online shopping was a big thing), nor do I know anyone else who does. IMO it is a massive waste of space. I may be in the minority but I feel it's something I should bring up.
McKeesport died because of the steel industry
That the key to this photo. Thousands and thousands of jobs disappeared in the time between when those two photos were taken. People had to move away to find jobs. Braddock, PA, a few miles up river, suffered a similar fate.
Mixed use and the ability to \*walk\* to most things, with public transit enabling you to see friends and go to work further from home.
That... seems to be it. Rural and suburban Americans find cruise ships and Las Vegas fascinating... because cruise shits and Las Vegas have walkable neighborhoods, so to speak.
Americans spend a \*gargantuan\* amount of their money on cars, commutes, and the infrastructure needed to make that remotely possible. Design something to be pleasant without cars, and you've mostly already won.
Which ever university professor(s) told you that has the cause and effect completely backwards.
Migration out of the major urban centers in the US began immediately after the end of WWII and and accelerated post Korean and Vietnam wars. Soldiers returning from war and the families they were returning to who'd endured the trauma of those periods wanted peace and quiet and had money and jobs that allowed them to escape the problems; crowding, crime, poor housing stock, poor public services, poor schools, corrupt political machines etc. that were typical in cities and getting worse. The "huge" enclosed shopping malls you're talking about didn't start appearing with regularity until the 70s and were in response to the rapid development of suburban housing tracts and the relocation of resident from cities, not a cause of that relocation. In fact the very first large enclosed mall in the US, Southdale Mall in Edina Minnesota, wasn't built until 1954 and well after the exodus from cities to the suburbs had begun.
When I was child in the 60's my parents moved us out of the city, bought newly constructed home on a large lot (nearly an acre) in a typical suburb development and it was nearly a decade before a large enclosed shopping mall opened in the area and only after the suburban area we'd moved into had more than quintupled in population since we'd arrived.
The huge malls you're describing started popping up in the areas former city dwellers had already moved to and American city centers had started dying decades before then.
The narrative American city leaders created and promote where malls popped up in rural areas and people abandoned cities to move near them is a false one that they use to shift blame from themselves, avoid facing up to and dealing with the problems in their cities that cause people to leave in the first place and why people continue to move further and further out from them.
It wasn’t a mistake here they did it on purpose. Also this picture of McKeesport is being charitable other parts look much worse. The downtown is almost entirely abandoned. Fuck cars bro :,(.
Philly is like 75% abandoned or condemned buildings tbh
McKeesport is a suburb of Pittsburgh, not Philly. Wrong side of the state.
My dad grew up nearby, in East McKeesport, and so we visited all the time, but I missed "peak McKeesport" by at least a decade, I'm sorry to say.
Readers of this sub may be interested in Braddock, PA, very close by McKeesport and subject of a lot of interesting analysis. Including the film Lightning Over Braddock, which chronicles its decline. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097752/
I didn't see this post before I just mentioned Braddock upthread. A lot of similarities between the rise and fall of both towns. Today it's impossible to imagine that both towns once had multi-story department stores.
Blatantly false but ok
As someone who just biked the entirety of Philly, it most certainly is not. There are pockets of abandonment in the North Philly "Badlands" - old industrial neighborhoods of unkempt row homes. But that's a symptom of racist redlining practices. Otherwise Philly has ideal bones for a new urbanist cycling city, it just needs to implement those principles.
Nobody is asking for a bike lane in McKeesport
The People's Building is not condemned. I was literally inside it on Friday. It's gorgeous inside and still going through renovation.
This is entirely false. They are parking lots because nobody wants to build anything in mckeesport. Its not because of cars.
I grew up near McKeesport. It literally lost more than half its population during the White Flight / Urban Renewal decades. It's a real shame too. Back in my grandfather's time, it used to be a rather nice transit-oriented, mixed income inner suburb of Pittsburgh. With enough political will, it could become that again.
It's more like 2/3rds of the population lost! I hadn't ever heard of it so was looking it up on Wikipedia. In 1940 the population was 55,355 and in 2019 the estimated population was 19,009 (34% of its peak population).
> enough political will
Ha. I was talking with an American friend about how political will implemented could literally make America great again. Except, at this point, it's absolutely a pipe dream.
Universal health care, improved education all across the board/free higher level, good public transit, good infrastructure, good urban planning. ALL of these are things that a top-tier society enjoys, and America has NONE. It's actually kind of astounding how America is a global superpower when at this point, there's like.............nothing.
Did you see how well Top Gun did? That's all America has left to be proud of. Our shiny jets go zoom.
I lived in Pittsburgh in the early 90s and never owned a car the whole time I was there. I lived on the north side, east liberty, and squirrel hill. I took the bus everywhere, everyday. Occasionally you'd have to take more than one bus to get farther outside the city.
At the time it seemed like there was a mix of all types of people on the bus, not just working class and college kids.
I haven't been there since 95, so I'm not sure what it's like now. I thought all big cities were like that. My next move was Orlando, and it was hell to get around.
My grandmother (b 1920) never learned to drive. She took the bus everywhere from her home in Morningside (a Pittsburgh neighborhood, for those not in the know) and got rides from friends and family when necessary. It was not a problem for her and she taught me my love for public transport.
The decline of the PAT bus system is a travesty and I’m glad that our new mayor actually cares about building it back up instead of replacing it with driverless cars.
I’m not understanding the connection between McKeesport and “fuck cars”
McKeesport is a lot like the other towns in PA. They went bust when steel was outsourced and unions were shit on
All the buildings torn down in this picture where replaced by parking lots.
I know it's bedtime because I've been staring at the two photos and trying to work out how the circled building had changed, not noticing that all the other buildings were no longer there!
It’s also possible that due to the population decline and crime in the area, no one wants to be in those buildings, so they in turn became dilapidated, run down, and rather than keep with with the infrastructure, were torn down and turned into a parking lot, which are easier to maintain
All caused by cars
As someone who’s actually met people from there and lived in the state, no
White flight. Thanks to freeways and cars
I grew up in the area. If this was caused by cars, it was very indirectly. The other commenter is right. The real reason for the demise of the city was the closing of the steel mills.
Those buildings weren't torn down though, they were destroyed in a fire.
The county as a whole did lose about 25% of its population, but that pales compared to the 60% that McKeesport lost. The county as a whole is wealthier than it has ever been at any point in history, while the poverty rate in McKeesport is higher than it was in the 1950s. PA didn't just collapse. There were clear winners and losers in the decline of the steel industry. In terms of towns, the trolley suburbs of the South Hills, and the green-field developments of the North Hills have thrived. The blue collar riverside neighborhoods were torn apart and given up on.
See table D of the [McKeesport Zoning Ordinance](https://www.mckeesport-pa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/208/McKeesport-Zoning-Ordinance?bidId=), at the very end of the doc. It's a chart of minimum off-street parking requirements. For example, for restaurants and similar businesses you need 1 parking spot for every 50 sq ft of business. When land is cheap or buildings are dilapidated, minimum parking requirements lead to demolishing buildings for parking.
I don't think the reason those houses were demolished and replaced with parking lots is just the collapse of industry. That happened here in Germany as well, but it didn't make cities less dense, just poorer. I would guess that the reason in why these buildings were torn down and replaced with parking lots wasn't the industry collapse of the late 70s and 80s, that's just the root of the poverty. I'd guess the reason those parking lots were build was suburbanization and increased car dependency from the late 60s onward, since all the car-dependent suburbanites needed places in the city to park their car and even within cities people became more car-dependent. The collapse of the steel industry and the economic collapse was, so to speak, just the "cherry on top".
The reason is rather complex, but this happens even in areas that are still well off today otherwise. What happens is this: for reasons, possibly white flight, possibly something more like "affluent flight", people started moving farther from the city center. This was subsidized by the government via, among other things, the 30 year mortgage and immense funds to build highways. This made it possible for a lot more people to move out to suburbs. As a result, a lot of influence to upkeep the suburbs now springing up emerged. This diverted tons of money towards these areas, and also led to demand for car friendly infrastructure. Over time these forces won to the point that many cities look like McKeesport today. This wouldn't be as much of an issue though if these suburbs generated the revenue for the city. The fact is, these suburbs do not. The cost of maintenance is not covered by the revenue from property taxes, additional sales taxes, or what have you. It simply isn't. This means that money has to be pulled from other places in order to cover the shortfall. Hence, cities get butt fucked as necessary maintenance and investment is diverted. Hence McKeesport. But it's a common story, all too common. Safe to say the suburban experiment has failed
Isn't it ironic that somehow, despite suburbs having on average wealthier residents, and richest paying, at least in raw numbers, most of the taxes, we still have a system where the poor subsidize the rich? It's brilliant really. Because of the way taxes are structured, it seems like it's the other way around. But a closer look from a different lens paints a completely different picture.
It really is. When you put it that way it sounds so much worse. And you gotta ask, how can this ever be fixed? The numbers could not be more clear. I'm sitting here wanting to tell everyone I meet about this
> What happens is this: for reasons, possibly white flight, possibly something more like "affluent flight", people started moving farther from the city center.
We should not forget the [redlining](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining) that prevented many non-white people from moving into areas outside the city center.
>In the United States, redlining is a discriminatory practice in which services (financial and otherwise) are withheld from potential customers who reside in neighborhoods classified as 'hazardous' to investment; these neighborhoods have significant numbers of racial and ethnic minorities, and low-income residents. While the most well-known examples involve denial of credit and insurance, denial of healthcare and the development of food deserts in minority neighborhoods have also been attributed to redlining in many instances.
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Oh yeah for sure. Although even that, to me it seems like the urban core was never able to get loans to build stuff. Like there was never a 30 year mortgage for an individual to build something downtown
Exactly. Empty unused buildings eventually become blights and have to be torn down.
Like I know this is fuck cars but damn, McKeesport is a ghost town because it’s jobs were sent overseas and the buildings got emptied. Those buildings aren’t there due to a loss of jobs, not because of cars
I grew up in mckeesport and moved out in 2018. It never got better.
Deindustrialization has caused Pittsburgh's population to hemorrhage since the 1970s.
Believe me, I know. My point still stands. Look up Dormont or Lawrenceville. Pittsburgh has quite a few neighborhoods that are very desirable despite being not at all wealthy -- because they either never got torn down in the first place (like Dormont) or because they reimagined themselves as modern, dense neighborhoods (like Lawrenceville).
Crazy to see McKeesport on Reddit. My dad’s parents grew up there and had nothing but good things to say about their experiences living there back in the day. One great grandfather owned a prominent car dealership in town and the other worked as a tin smith for a sheet metal shop. There used to be three(!) breweries in what was a fairly small city and the folks there enjoyed a solid local economy. There was so much steel produced in that area they paved roads with slag when they couldn’t pile it any higher.
After all the mills closed the town imploded and a lot of people, including my grandparents, moved out. The only time I ever visited was for my great grandmother’s funeral. The whole area smelled of rotten eggs and burned out, gutted cars were on every street corner. Entire blocks of houses were abandoned, giving neighborhoods an apocalyptic feel. It was pretty tragic to see how far it has declined since the heyday.
Forgive me, but what is the circle supposed to be drawing my attention to? Are the pillars different or something?
It's supposed to show you what buildings actually remain between the two eras. The evidence it's the same street and not two random streets pulled for comparison.
Omg. This is a crime
Ugh. Parking lots.
All of those buildings caught fire and burned down. This has nothing to do with cars.
In lieu of erecting another building, they built a parking lot.
To which I say, "Ugh. Parking lots."
Well, who was looking to build and occupy a new building in downtown Mckeesport after the Famous Fire? The city lost half of its population and unfortunately has only gotten worse.
Welp, unfortunately we may never know.
However we do know that people can occupy buildings in a way they cannot occupy parking lots.
To which I respond for the third time, "Ugh. Parking lots."
>Welp, unfortunately we may never know.
I live a block from this picture. I can tell you it would never have been occupied because the sad truth is at least 90% of these buildings are *still* not occupied. They're finally knocking down most of what is left, I'm hopeful for redevelopment, but we have a lot bigger issues than parking lots.
Yeah! Hey hopefully it can be properly redeveloped and subsequently repopulated for a the folks to thrive without the need of cars on the day to day.
Because, say it with me now, "Ugh. Parking lots."
Lol I agree man, I'm hoping the investments in the public transport hub is the start of something better. Just here to point out parking lots are not the tragedy of Mckeesport and not anywhere near our biggest problems. Violence, shrinking population base, and a bad school district are much bigger. I'm not concerned about the lots until we have momentum to fill them.
Cheers, friend. I sincerely hope we get a beautiful, thriving Mckeesport in the future as well!
“bUt aMeRiCa wAs bUiLt FoR tHe CaR!”
That is true, it was built for the car, at the expense of everything
America was demolished for the car
"America wasn't built for the car. It was bulldozed for the car." - Not Just Bikes
Appears to be unmentioned in the comments, but a fire destroyed about ten buildings on that street in the 70s.
And the steel industry collapsed
This seems important
What are you talking about, that looks lovely...oh wait..that's the BEFORE picture, my bad.
In the 1960, McKeesport had 10 of thousands of workers in Steel plants within walking distance of this corner. Today there are no major employment opportunities within McKeesport. That caused more of the change than removal of street cars or reliance on cars
McKeesport and most of the rest of the Mon Valley suffered a full-on economic collapse. The industry dried up and blew away and left behind nothing but severe poverty and drug problems. You can't really blame this one on cars, just on capitalism.
The town actually has a pretty nice little downtown remaining (and a good bike trail), it's just a total ghost town.
Edit: There is actually a lot of steel still produced in the Mon Valley, but the mills employ very few people at this point and US Steel gives absolutely nothing back to the communities where these mills reside and pollute.
You can't blame it on cars I agree. To me, cars are actually a symptom of far deeper problem. Cars, or more specifically car centric infrastructure, was built because we subsidized a development pattern that necessitated them. This works when you have emerged from a world war as the sole world power and have money to burn, but this development style does not generate money. It's a huge financial nightmare. Its very expensive to destroy a streetcar, widen roads, build parking lots, etc. You wouldnt expect that if the city collapsed financially, you'd expect a ghost town with the old infrastructure remaining. Instead, my argument is the other way around. The suburban development pattern actually destroyed the wealth and led to the collapse of the city, not the other way around. We really did destroy our wealth to build the suburbs, and now as the suburbs are requiring more and more maintenance while not generating the tax revenue to cover it, we are staring down the barrel of insolvency in a number of areas. The rich areas are fine - for now. It's the areas that appear to have collapsed that are having a crisis. That crisis is only going to get worse unless we completely abandon the suburban experiment and go back to the way we used to build cities. That is, middle out
I don't disagree with the main principles of what you're saying, but that doesn't apply here. McKeesport is part of a long string of towns and small cities stretching up the Monongahela River which were built to staff the steel mills of US Steel and other large industrial corporations, as well as the various smaller industries that supported these giants. In the 1980s, these large corporations closed their operations and left, moving much of their business into nonunionized areas of the South. The towns have fallen apart because there's simply no reason left for anyone to live there; everyone with the means has left for greener pastures. The buildings themselves were abandoned and subsequently demolished as unsafe. There's no great demand for parking lots in the area, they were just built to put vacant lots to some sort of bare minimum use.
It's true that with investment in public transit, these towns and cities could see new life as walkable suburbs of Pittsburgh. Despite the pictures, there's a lot of good bones still left behind, and it would help alleviate the housing crunch that Pittsburgh is currently suffering. That's pretty unrelated to why the area declined so harshly, however.
Had they not given up the streetcars and livable areas, the people who are moving into the city now would have moved there instead opting to drive in from even further out.
People left because there were no jobs; infrastructure collapsed because there were no people to fund it.
The streetcars were probably gotten rid of because they reached their end of life and ridership was down. Street cars are a more efficient form of travel, but they require high capital to replace and a bunch of money to maintain, which isn't very easy to do if nobody is riding them and the city has money problems.
one of the big causes for their maintenance woes is because cars are usually allowed to drive on the tracks. take that out of the equation and it would be a fairer picture
Streetcars were destroyed by the car industry (Ford). This is proven.
But why would they destroy the street car and make a parking lot if the area was falling apart? If there was an economic catastrophe I'd expect the area to be more abandoned, not destroyed. It's nontrivial to build and maintain the roads we see in this picture. Someone was driving to this area, and the city accommodated with investment. That screams to me they were yet another victim of the suburban experiment. Why else would they rip up the streetcar?
Most US Steel employees don't live in the zip code. You can blame cars for that.
I mean, I wouldn't want to live next to a steel mill either. Braddock is one of the most polluted places in the whole state. People living near the coke plant up the river have crazy high rates of certain cancers. That's all US Steel's fault, not cars.
The larger point is that there's like 200 people working at those plants, which is not the sort of employment that can support a community of any appreciable size.
Bottom pic is low key depressing
Awesome view! Yes, cars don’t do much good. :( It’s to do with ‘superiority’ imo. And laziness.
Imagine no run to suburbs. We would have iconic cities across the usa..like Europe.
Wow the contrast is crazy. One is scaled for human and the other for the car. Tragic
I've actually *been* there. Cars / road designs are a big part of the issue, for sure, but it's not shown well here, since the city's road design here didn't radically change. There's a huge highway nearby that's the root cause, but OP I don't fault you at all since that can't really fit into the frame.
Rode past it on the GAP. McKeesport is a total shithole.
Wow this is fucked
Note how the top picture has all white people. When that is the powerful were living, they were happy to invest in infrastructure.
It is after the CRA that things changed. When white people couldn't discriminate anymore is when they started filling in the public spaces and privatizing everything so they didn't have to let lessers benefit from taxes.
This picture really shows how car centric infrastructure literally destroyed those shops and businesses.
This picture really shows how economic collapse literally destroyed those shops and businesses.
Plenty of cars in the first picture
I think the loss of the local steel mills had much more to do with McKeesport's decline then city planning. Its a suburb of Pittsburgh and its one of many that look like this. Homestead, Wilkinsburg, Aliquippa, etc.
Why does every mid sized American city look like a collection of beige rectangles?
muricans ruin a lot of what they touch or freedom
To be fair, the second pic is taken with a much wider-angle camera, which stretches things out and makes it look more desolate. Look how much further away the third building looks in the second picture.
It's still ruining your own city, but the two photos aren't exactly a fair comparison.
Some additional info for those curious about the effect, it's not actually the angle/fov of the camera that causes this, it's the *perspective distortion* from being closer or further away from a subject. The first pic is taken from much further away and zoomed in, whereas the second pic is very close to the action. They use this concept in film with a camera movement called a "dolly zoom" which can help shift the emphasis between environment and subject.
I like how the wide angle added parking lots and removed people from the streets.
The massive fire did that, actually.
How is fire an excuse for not re-building.
When a fire destroys a lot of buildings that at that point we’re already in decline, and no business are interested in moving in because their is no industry there anymore, who is going to rebuild when there is no money to make by doing so?
Love the old timey clock post in front of the parking lot now, really gives you that old Main Street character
You guys should check out Des Moines before the Interstate…holy shit is it heartbreaking
Love did her in.
What is being circled here
When buildings and roads could be put together like Lego and be moved around, a lot of these issues will be fixed.
I live in omaha and our downtown is nice in some parts but around the freeways where all the parking is its a desolate dilapidated shit hole, it's always sad walking through there seeing something that used to be thriving and walkable torn to pieces but they do seem to be very slowly revitalizing it and the city seems to have some long term plans for a freeway lid park that would be a nice addition as well.
Thank you big red circle, I couldnt have figured it out these are the same buildings
Crazy how war flattens cities. Oh wait
Link to the [tweet](https://twitter.com/PoliticsAndEd/status/1537844679865008128). Really interesting account- seems worth a follow.
Is there any Youtube channel or similar that documents things like these?
I don’t understand what this demonstrates
That a massive fire and major industry leaving a town will destroy a street
Oh I guess the circle just proves that it’s the same place. Okay cheers.
But if no one drove it would ruin our cities economy, look at all those small business that would disappear if we couldn't drive to them...
Not ice the streets are empty in the second picture.
When Republicans idolize the 50s, I wish this was what they meant
Saddest thing here to me is the trolly being removed. Oil companies paying nothing to dig up these lines in the early 1900s forcing people to buy cars. Our city used to have 3 lines back in the day taking people a few miles in and out of the downtown area, can’t imagine what that would be like today if they were still in place.
We? Nobody asked us.
*the capitalist class interests ruined, most Americans had no say in this
The first pic is better for pedestrians, transit AND cars. The second picture is a hollowed out husk.
I am an architect from copenhagen and graduated in the departement of "city-building", which is a sort of cityplanning. After finishing school I have worked for different city counsils since then.
Remove streetcars, add parking lots
This wasn't explicitly the result of cars. The real culprit was globalization. Making steel overseas was cheaper and, for some reason, no one cared about the inherent risks and costs of deindustrializing your society. Shuttered mills means less jobs, less jobs means less people... suddenly you have a 2/3 flight from your town and all that's left is crippling depression and drug addiction.
P.S. I'm literally from the town right next to Mckeesport.
Also, apparently, a massive fire destroyed a lot of the buildings too. No need to rebuild (or money to do so) when 2/3 of your population just left/is leaving.
I live down the road from here. Most of those buildings are empty now sadly.
Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport could be utilized to kick start tech start ups, this is a strategy used by universities and cities to revitalize older neighborhoods. McMaster University in Hamilton another steel city in Canada does this effectively and has spawned over 3000 start ups some of which have gone mainstream creating new jobs and revitalization. Lots of old condemned buildings are getting reused as working space for these start up, all young kids wanting loft apartments and restaurants and clubs to cater to them.
The removal of streetcars ruined alot of cities and suburbs
Born and raised in McKeesport. Fire and industry collapse did this, not cars. The clock on the right was where an old department store sat, but it had been out of business and dilapidated for a long time before they tore it down, and the parking lot was close enough to be able to park and walk to the surrounding businesses.
Also, if you look at a topographical map of McKeesport, you’d understand why cars are needed there.
Corporate greed is what killed McKeesport.
Cars did not ruin McKeesport, the big fire and the steel industry going away are what killed McKeesport. https://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2016/05/16/McKeesport-s-Famous-fire-remembered/stories/201605160010
Im not sure this fits. McKeesport is a town that was hit hard by the collapse of the steel industry. Most likely the buildings were condemned and there was no interest in development to replace them.
Most of the buildings in that picture are still there. The lens is just extremely wide for the 360 shot so they aren't as prominent.