Wednesday, May 10, 2006
What kind of urban development projects destroyed the central city neighborhoods? Urban historians often point to interstates and other highways, which were dumped down in the middle of cities --- often the poor and black sectors, of course --- with the loss of thousands of homes and the destruction of entire neighborhood fabrics. After all, the most pressing policy issue for local governments in the '50 seemed to be helping the commutes of new and influential suburbanites. Robert Moses even planned the pulling down of a large chunk of Manhattan’s now-super-hip SoHo for a freeway.
A new exhibit here in Tampa, however, shows a more modern story of urban demolition. In a pair of striking photos, the Ybor City State Museum shows how Tampa’s famous Ybor City, once home to thousands of Latino and Italian cigar rollers, actually survived the running of Interstate 4 along its edge in the ‘50s. By 1966, Ybor was still home to hundreds of wooden shotgun houses (prevalent in many cities of pre-air-conditioned South) around the bustling cigar-shop and retail 7th Avenue.
But this wasn’t enough for the urban “renewers.” In a plan not completed until the ‘70s, nearly all of the shotgun houses were bulldozed, in large part through eminent domain. Unsafe, they said. Slums, they said. By the second photo, in 1976, Ybor City was nearly completely a wasteland of empty lots. Carpet bombers could not have done a better job. (Today, a few remaining shotguns in Ybor can go for as much as half a million.)
There may have been a lot of reasons for the ‘70s urban destruction –-- a sincere but misguided belief that older housing “caused” poverty, the racist fear that Ybor was attracting too many African Americans as the Latinos moved out, and the desire of government and other institutions for some inchoate projects (a junior college, lots of parking lots, and a new condo complex were eventually built on the land).
The sad lesson of Ybor City is that cockeyed urban policies lived on until quite recently. There was hardly a blink between “tear down the slums” and “revitalize the old neighborhoods.”
This blog is an Amazon affiliate. Help support Land Use Prof Blog by making purchases through Amazon links on this site at no cost to you.
- Katherine Dentzman on A Coordinated Approach to Food Safety and Land Use Law at the Urban Fringe
- Jesse Richardson on Local Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing
- Jamie Baker Roskie on Local Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing
- Samuel on Schleicher and Rauch on local regulation of the sharing economy
- Timothy Wayne George on Is Reed v. Town of Gilbert an important sign case?
- Water Down Under: A Report from Australia by Barb Cosens: Post 2: Comparative Water Law: Australia and the western United States or Conversations with Claire
- APA Planning & Law Division's Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition now accepting entries
- Jan 30 - Boston U Law - The Iron Triangle of Food Policy - AJLM Symposium
- "Basic Human Right" to Farm Your Lawn?
- CFP: Fordham Law: Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy