Sunday, March 02, 2008

The New Slums

From The Atlantic Monthly, an article about today's McMansions becoming tomorrow's new slums. The message here to locals is: don't panic over the real estate downturn. It will come out to the advantage of city dwellers in the end. Take the long view.

And while urban construction may slow for a time because of the present housing bust, it will surely continue. Sprawling, large-lot suburbs become less attractive as they become more densely built, but urban areas—especially those well served by public transit—become more appealing as they are filled in and built up. Crowded sidewalks tend to be safe and lively, and bigger crowds can support more shops, restaurants, art galleries.

Chicago has definite advantages. Now if we can just get the political machine to focus on something other than the next election. Perhaps then we can be assured of sensible planning, reasonable tax structure, and a mass transit infrastructure that makes this city a shining example of what could be the future.

1 comment:

The North Coast said...

llWell, I've been saying the same thing for years- that suburbs need low density but urban areas really need high-density.

High density in an urban nabe supports the things that make a neigborhood more "walkable" and "friendly" such as a large variety of small-scaled, boutique-type retail and food service; frequent and reliable transit; and other civic amenities like musems, parks, and recreational facilities. High density makes for the "buzz" that urbanites so love, and makes life possible without a car.

One thing: High Density should not be confused with Dwelling Overcrowding, which can produce high pop. numbers for a given zip code or ward, but can easily translate to far fewer households overcrowded with large numbers of people living in poverty, vs. a high number of one-or-two-person households in a given census tract.

For example, Lakeview and Edgewater have very high population density of 31,000 pop. per mile. These neighborhoods are succussful areas where the high density supports a wide array of attractive commercial and frequent transit.

However, in Rogers Park, where I live, you don't have high density so much as Dwelling Overcrowding. RP has many more single family houses and smaller apt buildings, along with high rates of poverty with massive dwelling overcrowding, which makes for a stated density of 34,000 pop.per mile, but is deceptive because we are talking about far fewer households.