Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ruins of an Empire

To go with that story about Buffalo, here's a video of Detroit, a rust belt city that's declined in much the same way. What can we do with the ruins of a bygone industrial era? I wish I knew.


Brian Dunbar said...

Hold a really big bonfire - bring marshmallows. Lots and lots of marshmallows.

Or ..

* Put the unemployed to work salvaging the ruins for recyclables.

* Then let the land go fallow and nature reclaim the ruins.

Rufus said...

It's funny- I've always wondered what would be the big deal with letting some of these places become ghost towns. It seems like, in the absense of a large manufacturing economy, most of them have outlived their usefulness.

Generally, it's not good for economic growth to have a shrinking population. But you have to wonder if the best hope for places like Buffalo or Detroit wouldn't be for the state government to buy all the houses at a good price, encourage people to move out entirely, and close shop.

Incidentally, what does Milwaukee look like these days?

Holly said...

There are some cities in formerly East Germany that are doing this natural reclamation thing. They've got such chunks of post-industrial wasteland and such low population density that they're scraping whole sections of town down to the dirt and letting nature do its thing. When they can afford to, they do some greenscaping, but mostly they're just letting it turn back into undeveloped land.

Which is fascinating because not only does it make it more interesting to think about living there--you could have a high rise apartment surrounded by acres of essentially park land--but also, the infrastructure is all still there and accessible (water, power, etc) if later urban in-fill becomes warranted.

(There was a documentary about this I caught a couple of months ago).

Brian Dunbar said...

Incidentally, what does Milwaukee look like these days?

I'm not sure, to be honest.

Up state we don't seem to be doing so bad: locally our company is expanding - a new office building, expanding manufacturing locally, expanding our facilities in China, in early talks to expand in Eastern Europe.

Our CFO put it this way - if she thought there were going to be problems they wouldn't be expanding capacity they'd be pulling their heads in and sitting it out.

Rufus said...

Holly- It's good to see that they're thinking about this. Most of the Western industrialized world is experiencing population decline. Actually, the United States population is going the same way, but high levels of immigration are making up the difference.

It's hard to know exactly why people aren't having kids, but being of childbearing age myself, I'd imagine it's the sense that having kids is an investment beyond our emotional and financial means.

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