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sean mcdaniel

I remember reading an article in the NY times a few months ago (maybe 6 or so) about how NYC and other thriving residential downtown areas are fast becoming childless. The same will probably happen here too. I don't imagine many young families will move to any of the (unfairly subsidized) housing projects underway. And if they do, most of them, like so many families do, will head to fox chapel, bradford woods, bethel park or some other suburb that offers a better (and safer — always a tacit understanding) school district for their kids...try to families on the mexican war streets...on in the new and rehabbed places on the south side....i'm not saying it's a plus or minus having upscale childless singles and couples living in the most desired neighborhoods, just pointing that out.

as for that commute distance...you probably knew more than a few in baltimore who commuted to DC. i had a friend who lived in frederick and worked in baltimore. a few weeks ago i met a guy who worked in SF but lived in Lodi, 90 minutes away. another guy i know lives near lehigh university (close to bethlehem and allentown) and have neighbors who ride two hours each way to work in NYC. the horrors of commuting are lost on us around here (well, i work at home). but the workadays here who gotta travel to their jobs think that anything over 23 minutes is a hardship...and maybe it is...but the reality is that in so many other places, it takes you that long to travel to the closet interstate entrance.

Sam M

Sean,

Agreed. People here have a pretty strange view of what counts as a "long commute."

And I wonder: Do people REALLY want things to change? What happens if Pittsburgh lands some huge industry--or a series of industries--that will bring 200,000 jobs to the area in the next 25 years? What do you think the Parkway East would look like? I don't care what you build in the Fifth Forbes corridor.

What seems strange to me about Pittsburgh--although perhaps it shouldn't--is that there does appear to be sprawl despite anemic population numbers. Yes, I know the metro area has been relatively steady, meaning that a lot of people have moved to the 'burbs. Which accounts for a lot of it. But still, isn't it kind of shocking that the same number of people require that much more space? Maybe not.

And to be honest, I think people were probably pretty cramped in the 1930s. It's nice to have your own laundry and your own bathroom.

But back to sprawl: As bad as people might think it is here, like the commute, it has nothing on the Baltimore/DC area. Drive up Rt. 28 past Fox Chapel once. Then drive out Rt. 50 in Northern Virginia. Or anywhere lese leading out of the city. Now THAT'S sprawl.

Which I guess means that Pittsburgh could handle 200,000 jobs a lot easier than Baltimore could. At least as far as housing goes. As long as people are willing to accept the sprawl and the traffic that the Bal/DC corridor now has.

Oh, and it might be worse here. Damn hills.

So I guess mom was right... Careful what you wish for.

We are also on the same page with family housing. And crime (or the perception of crime) is certainly part of it. But so is space. People LIKE living 4,500 square-foot chalets. I don't know why. But they really seem to.

And again, I don't care how much you subsidize it: 4,500 square feet is always going to be expensive downtown. Especiially if the buyer demands a quarter acre and a two-Hummer garage to boot.

And until people stop wanting that...

John Morris

I think that given the situation one can't tell what people really want. I mean ther all kinds of restrictions and econmic incentives there that feed sprawl that one sort of can't even tell how many people want what.

As far as the urban family thing goes. I think that NY is starting to attract more families but they are often small households. This is pretty recent. One major attraction of density is that it's easy to support choice in things like education.

Anyway i think the very high prices in many of the non sprawl places indicate that plenty of people desire them.

sean mcdaniel

okay, i agree with the big housing issue...for today's average family (1.7 kids or whatever) 2,000 square feet seems to be plenty. but i know plenty of people who are cramming themselves into homes of 3,000 to 4,000 sq ft. for 2-4 people...they must all have gps chips implanted in them to keep track of each other. what really makes me laugh are the ones (and yes some are friends and relatives) who bitch and moan about what big oil and hummers are doing to the environment...meanwhile, they're heating, cooling and lighting more space in one hour than the average european does in probably a week.

i've mentioned it before, the continuing sprawl is a puzzlement. but honestly, the people who move downtown won't be the hummer crowd. what you'll find in their parking spaces are bmws and volvos...not exactly gas sippers either.

i love to listen to the hollywood and music types and even locals who spout the figures about america's 2 percent of the world population using 40 percent (or whatever the total is) oil, natural gas and cheez whiz, while they sit in those energy guzzling megahomes of theirs.

and let me say this...if you want to live in what people condescendingly call mcmansions, fine, i don't hate the suburbs....but please don't tell me about your desire to protect the earth and its fragile eco system while the AC is on full blast ripping another hole in the ozone and the lawn sprinklers are washing the fertilizer that the mexican gardening crew sprayed on the sod yesterday into the storm sewers and poisoning the carp in the ohio river. by the way, a lot of people in pittsburgh take the local fish home for dinner.

sam, you know i'm rough what i consider hypocritical stances. whether it's bush and his compassionate conservatism warmongering or seem university types complaing about subsidies (not a slam,sam. just making a point). i'm sure i slip from the straight and narrow ethical path at times, but i really do make an effort to watch my step. liberals, conservatives and everything in between need to stop preaching one thing and doing the opposite. it's that easy. which is why jim roddey's casino license is so disappointing. i really thought the guy was different than most politicians. turns out he's every bit the same. the man is in his 70s and sufficiently wealthy...his wife is ill...and he's worrying about cashing in even more before he checks out forever.

now ask me again why i've lost faith in politics on every level.

Sam M

John,

Well there are some very high prices in some very high-sprawl areas as well. LA. DC. Etc. So I suppose they are desirable as well. And high sprawl in some low-priced areas. Which makes it a wash.

As for families moving into NYC, I am sure it's happeining but I just can't imagine a major influx. This is anecdotal (and from TV, no less) but stick with me. I was watching some show, I think on HGTV, about a single woman looking to buy a condo in New York. She had to go all the way up the the very tip of the island to an "up and coming" neighborhood. That is, it was cheap. She ended up, I think, with 600 square feet, one bedroom, no washer and dryer, no parking and no doorman (which she really wanted, for some reason). It cost her something like $450,000.

Oh, and it was a co-op. Which charged a monthly maintenance fee of $800. Forever. Or until it increases.

Now, obviously, a family with a son, daughter and a dog can't live in that place. Maybe 40 years ago. But people just won't do it now.

So I think that family, on average, would want three bedrooms. Probably four (for a home office.) One parking spot, at least. A washer/dryer.

Oh, and it would have to be in a neighborhood with a good school. Without which they would have to budget for private school. In Manhattan. For 12 years.

How much would that cost? Remember, what that single woman got was $450,000 plus $800 a month.

Normal families do live in NYC, I guess. I just don't know how.

But back to my original point: Yes, cost is one reason people do move to the 'burbs. And sprawl-inducing policies like highways have hidden many of the costs associated with the suburbs--or at least transferred them to society at large.

But I don't think that there is any denying that people like space. People like privacy. People like yards and garages. In fact, may people like such things so much that they are willing to sit in their cars for four hours a day driving back and forth to work--just so they can have a house with 4,000 square feet rather than 3,000. I know these people. I am friends with many of them. And they like their cul-de-sacs and soccer fields.

Maybe some suburb-unfriendly policies might make them change their minds. But not completely. Many wealthy people who could live in the city if they wanted to do not. They spend their $850,000 on a 6 bedroom mansion in Cranberry rather than a spiffy three bedroom loft downtown. Despite the fact that they only have one kid who they send to private school anyway. And they deal with the commute. Why? Because they like living out there. And if it became more expensive they would pay it. Or downgrade to a five bedroom.

Neither of us will probably ever fully understand it. But there it is.

Pittsburgh is a prime example. Pittsburgh is cheap. Even Shadyside and Squirrel Hill are cheap, compared to other cities. So we are not talking living downtown in the hood versus way out in the secluded 'burbs. Fact of the matter is, many people who could afford Shadyside don't live there because they like where they are better. We're not talking middle-class people forced to commute to DC from Culpepper because the city is too expensive. We're talking people who have the cash to make the choice. And they choose the 'burbs. Because they prefer them.

So al I am saying is that, yes, some policies do feed sprawl. But you can;t get around the fact that there is something to be said for life in a McMansion. I'm not sold on it. But a lot of people are.

John Morris

Sam,

Yes, that is what's so gross. The region has anemic growth and growing sprawl at the same time and a lot of this stuff is pretty nasty.
If one loved this kind of lifesyle, wouldn't you choose the southwest?

I think that here a lot of it reflects the history of the region. Most people didn't come here because they wanted to live in a city. They lived in the city or mill towns because that was where the jobs were and these places could be pretty dirty. So when they got the chance to get out and the government was building roads and offering loans they took them.

Also sprawl fits well with the stratified class structure of places separated by wealth and race.


sean mcdaniel

good god almighty, separted by wealth and race? this has always been a mostly white city...with a black population of around 10 to 12 percent. and just like italians, poles, irish and other ethnic/racial/reglious groups congreted in certain neighborhoods, so did blacks. unfortunately, blacks haven't been able to move up the economic ladder here or most other cities (for a variety of reasons). sprawl started as a way for the working class guy with a decent wage (usually unionized) to get out of the city...it was a very democratic thing (many black mill workers moved to the burbs in the 50s and 60s). today, land is too expensive to plop down on a half acre 3 1,500 square foot brick homes that sell for $100,000 each. builders can maximize their investement with one 3,000 square foot job that sells for $400,000-plus. it makes sense to me...especially since all those post-war brick cape cods are still out there and sell for about $100,000 these days. so why build more...builders don't have any moral/social obligation to build homes for the lower income bracket...

by the way JM: do you tell artists that display work in your gallery that a minimum wage worker really can't afford a $500 piece of art made of roofing tar (which i thought was pretty cool)? or is art just a luxury for the affluent? hell, for that matter, should david hockney sell his paintings at prices i can afford? and why does working class hero bruce springsteen (i love him) charge $65 a ticket?

John Morris

Sam,

Now, I never said that these families were poor. These people are pretty or very rich. Going farther out in Queens or brooklyn is the real place where one is seeing the return of families from Long Island and also a boom in imigrant households. It's hard to talk about NY and not talking about imigrants.

But getting back to the market in Manhattan or places like Williamsburgh in Brooklyn. What is so amazing is the huge sacrifices people will make to live there. They find that the stimulation and amount of choice and oportunity in the city is worth it. Also, It does reflect that NY is still a generator of a lot of great jobs.

Sam M

John,

I agree that race has been a contributing factor to suburban flight--both here and beyond. And I think that Pittsburgh does pose some interesting questions.

But to be clear, I also think that this holds true in Pittsburgh and beyond:

All things being equal--living space, cost, racial factors, schools, etc--there is a huge cohort of people who would prefer to live within a 15 minute drive of a Target rather than a five minute walk to an art museum.

There is a huge cohort of people who would rather eat at Applebees than a fine French bistro.

There is a huge cohort of people who would rather go to the local 98- screen Cineplex than sit through a play.

There is a huge cohort of people who would rather drive an hour to work than sit on a train for 15 minutes.

There is a huge cohort of people who, given a fuel-saving technology, would use it to increase horsepower rather than decrease gas consumption.

I am not casting aspersions here. Just on the issues I've listed immediately above, I fall on or near the "bad" side at least a few times.

Rather, i am saying that all things being equal, there is a huge cohort of people who resist high-density living because they hate it. For whatever reason, they just do.

So the question becomes what to "do" about it. Reversing policies that support their inclinations is one thing. And not an easy one. Do you le tthe DC Beltway--or the Parkway East--fall apart? What about the people living in Culpepper? Or Monroeville? Complicating matters is the fact that these people vote, and seem to outnumber people who prefer high-density.

Even more complicated is the notion of using punitive measure to bring them into line. A gas tax? Again, they vote.

Or is the best policy to let social factors and real costs take hold and slowly change peoples' minds? That could take a while.

Or is it to subsidize city so dramatically as to make converts? The problem with that in my mind--to reiterate--is that a whole lot of people wouldn't move out of their suburb for anything.

John Morris

Sean,

Yes,I have never been in an area as divided by class and race. This used to be a very big part of life in NY in the 1970's but there has just been so much change since with the huge inflows of imigrants and stuff. Everything is pretty mixed together. Long Island is pretty chopped up by these issues and is now seeing a charming amount of gang violence.

Areas like Harlem are now reviving in a pretty nice way I think. Some of the big housing progects remain but are being integrated into the area. There are new buildings going up and a lot of the kids go to the same schools. Williamsburgh in Brooklyn is also having stuff like this happening.

Sam M

One last point concerning subsidies: If the goal is really to make this a more centralized city, is spending $100,000 in public money to get one person to move downtown the best way to do it? This goes back to my question: Why privilege downtown?

To wit, if you have $100,000 to spend and you want to get people out of Cranberry and places even further afield, wouldn't you be further ahead to spend that $100,000 to subsidize moves to, say Swisshelm Park or Edgewood? You know--offer $5,000 in cash to each person who moves there. So a family of four would get $20,000. So let's do the math: With $100,000 you could get 20 middle-class people, small families and all, into Swisshelm Park or Edgewood. Or you could get one person downtown. Or maybe a couple.

Which is the most effective use of the money?

Not that I would support that idea. but still, doesn;t it make more sense? There are plenty of houses in those areas for sale. And those areas have discernible, walkable towns that could be "revitalized" in the process, cutting down on the need for Super Walmarts, superhighways, etc. They are closer to transit, etc.

I mean, what would happen if you took all those subsidies going to the Piatts and PNC and rebuilt Braddock? I know it's not in the city, but we are thinking regionally here. Get a critical mass of young families, put in a good grocery store, fix the schools. Etc.

No, that wouldn't do anything to make the Fifth-Forbes corrider a hipper place. But it would seem to be a lot more effective in taking pressure off the hinterland.

In fact, there is a lot of really great housing in the area, but it's falling apart. Why not fix 20,000 of those houses instead of putting Tuscan tile and granite countertops in 1,000 apartments downtown?

The family of four with the Hummer will never move downtown. But it might move to Swisshelm Park.

Sam M

Whoops... forgot...

My larger point: Wouldn't it make more sense to shift 80,000 people from the exurbs to the suburbs rather than shift 2,000 people from Shadyside (or, more optimistically, from Cleveland) to downtown?

I think this has the added benefit of being true to Pittsburgh's history and culture. As I've stated before and I think Sean confirmed, Pittsburgh was never really city with a lot of downtown residential. It was, as they say, a "city of neighborhoods." And it was a successful city by doing that.

So rather than subsidizing the creation of new (and in my mind fake) neighborhood in the Fifth-Forbes corridor, why not pay attention to the empty neighborhoods that already exist? Rather than pulling people out of Shadyside in favor of downtown, this would seem to bring people from Cranberry into, say, Wilkinsburg. Rather than building a $200 million attraction to please everybody in the metropolitan area, why not build 20 $10 million attractions that serve smaller groups?

If we're going to have to have subsidies, I think my plan goes a lot further towards "fixing" things.

That is, it would make Pittsburgh a system of self-sustained "small towns." Like it always has been.

People want to live downtown? Great. But don't pick it as the (only) winner by dumping a couple hundred million dollars on it, all to get a few thousand people there.

By the way, just to be clear, I would vote against my own plan. Only not as vehemently as I would vote against the current one.

John Morris

Sam,

Well, now that is the subject. First, I think that urban areas need to understand this conflict and how it affects them. It doesn't seem like many people in the city realise what a big problem this is for them. Then looking at systematic ways to make people pay the actual cost of thier lifestyle have to be taken. That's a big subject. In a collectivist world stuff like this is so blurred and mixed up.

As to the death of the Beltway and Parkway East. Well obviously that is what I would want to see. One rather facinating piece of NY history was the death of the West Side highway in NY. This was rather nasty piece of elevated highway that cut the West Side of Manhattan from the river. Needless to say keeping this contraption in good health wasn't easy and after years of dis-repair it sort of collapsed. Many people thought this would be a disaster for NY and a huge west side highway replacement was put in the works. Overtime opposition developed and it was never built. The end result was that fewer people decided to drive into Manhattan. Now, with that thing gone and explosion of west side building has taken place. Chelsea, which is the main gallery district has taken off.

sean mcdaniel

according to JM, braddock, swisshelm park and edgewood are suburbs. places people go to escape the city. so forget linking them to downtown with transit. just as bellevue and west view and avalon are foreign territory...even if they are more accessible to downtown than, say, squirrel hill or brookline. hell parts of ross are even closer to downtown then sq. hill.

what JM proposes is a transit system centered in the city...like NYC's subways...they don't extend to the suburbs. I understand that...but even train lines and buses from new jersey, connecticut, pennsylvania and long island do bring thousands/millions? of people into manhattan every day to work and play. and they use that subway system that mainly serves residents. so cool, build a super efficient transportation system that gets people around the city. no problem with that...but is it okay if us suburban scum ride buses in to town to get in on the fun? By the JM: the transit system here is called the Port Authority of Allegheny County, not the PA of the city of pittsburgh. it serves those 2.1 million or so residents who, for the most part, consider themselves to be pittsburghers by identity. keep in mind that many city residents also have little use for going downtown for anything but a steelers game.

i don't think there are many people around who believe that a city transit system and a county transit system would make much sense, especially since some of those city runs would only be about 4 miles long from downtown to the outskirts.

as for the racial makeup of the city...it's always been that way...same economically too. no one planned it that way.

now one last point for now...for all the talk of the miracle of southside, it's not really a functional neighborhood...unless all you do is drink and eat at restaurants. if you want a grocery store, or hardware store and a few other places that provide life's necessities, you'll find them in that nice little shopping complex way back off carson, near the river...a place that looks suspiciously like a suburban strip mall. even squirrel hill has a big old giant eagle plunked down in the middle of it. imagine that?

and how many of your lawrenceville neighbors shop at that shop n save strip mall down the street from you? seriously, do you think a neighborhood is real and vital if it's only chock full of art galleries, coffee shops, retro furniture stores and restaurants?

John Morris

Sam,

The family of four with the Hummer likes it where they are. This is stupid.

The question is whether there is a crowd of people (like me ) who don't drive or who want to live a life in ballance with the city. There is no comparison between the benefits of the two ideas. A large number of people living near the downtown is likely the only way one can have a downtown. I would argue that given the current situation that the chances of keeping any of the major company's offices in the city now is really tough because they know that a lot of thier employees don't live in the city.

The whole idea of the downtowns survival is at stake. There is no way that stores will survive wthout any residents. I mean anything beyond the marginal stuff there is now.

Sam M

John,

Important points. And well taken. But isn't it true that in Pittsburgh, the company's employees NEVER lived in the city? Or at least downtown? Like I said, it seems like Pittsburgh never had a huge group of people living in the Forbes-Fifth corridor. But U.S. Steel and Alcoa, etc. still put their headquarters there. So if they leave, it's not because the workers moved. It seems like in Pittsburgh, the 88 separate downtowns in the 88 separate neighborhoods were always more important than "downtown."
At least in a lot of ways.

So the fact that the Fifth-Forbes corridor is struggling seems less important to me than the fact that downtown Wilkinsburg (etc.) is struggling.

Bringing those 88 neighborhoods back to life might not make the city look like New York. But it never did look like New York--if "look like New York" means "people living where the skyscrapers are."

I am not intimately familiar with the Big Apple, but did New York ever even look like that?

History is a poor substitute for logic, of course. And there might be good reasons to think that's the way things ought to be even if they never have been. I'm just concerned about spending hundreds of miilions to "revitalize" something in a way that it was never "vital" in the first place.

If Pittsburgh operated a central business district without a core of residents in 1930, why can't it do that now? No, people did not use to do their grocery shopping at a Super Walmart way out Rt. 30. But they did do their grocery shopping where they lived. Which does not appear to have been downtown.

Yeah, the old way did support Kauffmans and other huge department stores downtown, but department stores occupy a pretty small part of the retail timeline. Say from the 1920s through the 1960s. Give or take 20 years.

So if central business districts have changed their roles every generation since the early 1900s, why can't they do it again?

Even more interestingly, if Pittsburgh continues without a lot of residential there, that wouldn't be much of a change.

But I do see a problem in figuring out what to do with all the building. Let them fall over? Seems a waste. But is it as much of a waste as seeing Garfield fall apart?

Perhaps the answer IS to let downtown fall apart. Just let it go. And get cheap. In a generation or so all the artists forced out of the revitalized Garfield will move into the empty zone on the Fifth-Forbes corridor and make it painfully hip again. And so it goes.

And you know, perhaps that would have happened already if the city hadn't snapped all the land and insisted on giving it all to one beknighted developer, hoping beyond hope that someday, somewhree in Pittsburgh, shoppers would have access to a Crate and Barrel.

Hmmmm.

Sam M

Oh...

And I think you are right. I think there IS a group of people passionate about living downtown. And I wish the city would get out of their way by selling the URA properties.

Seriously. I agree. Some people really want to live downtown. So much so that I don't think they need the city to magically turn their $300,000 condos into $400,000 condos.

Even better would be selling all the properties off to different developers so their might even be a few $150,000 condos.

That is something that I think people forget. The city has not only not developed the area. In many ways it has hindered development.

Say you owned a building in that area in 1996. Would you have developed it or sold it to Tom Murphy? I would have sold it to Tom Murphy and gotten the hell out of there. Fast.

Amos the Poker Cat

Sam, the link in your original entry is dead.

My experience in Colorado with growth limits are the "People's Republic of Boulder". Yup, 25 sq miles, surrounded by reality. Man, I that place a free circus sideshow. Oh course, all the growth that you don't get in Boulder occures right outside the city boundary. If fact the old 70's era mall in Boulder closed, and lost all its sales tax for the city of Boulder, for lack of business because of all the new sprawl malls just a couple of miles down the road. They were not allowed to build in Boulder. Go figure.

Irony, the NYT has an answer to one of Sam's questions that no one answered. "Where are the toilet scrubbers going to live?" Well if you belive the NYT Cities Shed Middle Class, and Are Richer and Poorer for It, then it will only be MIL/BIL-lionaires and toilet scrubbers.

Amos the Poker Cat

Sean said: "... liberals, conservatives and everything in between need to stop preaching one thing and doing the opposite. it's that easy. which is why jim roddey's casino license is so disappointing. i really thought the guy was different than most politicians. turns out he's every bit the same. ..."

Really, you were surprized by this? How long have you lived in PIT/PA? Do I have to say the "N" word? All in all, I like Roddey. He is better than most. But, it is free legal money just sitting there. I doubt 1 in 100M could turn it down.

Check out the PBT: The two lives of Jim Roddey

Sam M

Amos: Link fixed. Thanks much.

And I have a cousin in Boulder. It's the same today. Only worse.

By that I mean the inside the border, outside the border stuff. Beautiful place. For those who can afford it.

Read: Not many.

sean mcdaniel

Hi Amos,

I've asked JM the toilet scrubber question before, either here on J. Potts' blog. He chooses to ignore where the people who clean up his crap are going to reside.

As far as Roddey, I've known for years about his business investments. That's all pretty much above board stuff. but the casino shenanigans seem like an lucrative kitty open to a select few. Just as when the state house reps wrote legislation to let themselves have a one percent interst in casinos.

Sam: you are right. as i've said before, downtown really hasn't been a residential area in 150 years. The reason major companies settled is because their businesses where nearby...and the railroads run right into downtown to deliver business clients to the magnets' offices.

the downtown business district worked for a couple reasons...a big majority of the county's residents did live within the city limits. And most of them lived within 5 miles of downtown. don't forget that this was a very rich city at the turn of the 20th century. fine stores around the world served clientele here. check out a man's hat from that time and you're likely to find a label with the store's name that included locations in new york, chicago, london and pittburgh. the stores were here because that's where the money was. downtown wasn't for the working class...twilkingsburg and all those other town had strong business districts to serve the people who couldn't afford a $100 suit at one of pittsburgh half dozen of so pricey department stores.

no question in my mind what killed downtown and many neighborhood shopping districts was suburban sprawl...especially over the past 20 years when big steel died.

not too long ago, downtown was vital. so it can be revitalized but in a different form. just as an old noodle factory in bloomfield can return to usefulness as an apartment building for 25-35 year olds who want in a cool neighborhood that's close to downtown, shadyside, e. liberty and squirrel hill — and all that they have to offer.

hmm as for JM's desire to see the parkways crumble...just how in the hell would the city sustain itself? would the four big city parks be turned into farmlands? would the city build oil pipelines to supply fuel for that marvelous transit system that went round and round and round? it would be a boon for shipping and all the docks and warehouses along the river (i know, stick with me)...until the suburban navies blockaded the mon, allegheny and ohio. and airlifts would be tough, too, even if point state park proved to be useful as a landing strip. yeah, pittsburgh as a self sustaining city...talk about an exodus to the suburbs. they'd be leaving in droves. I could make a living transporting people across the borders in my hummer fleet.

John Morris

Bingo Sam,

The bulk of people I am talking about and the core demand I see is for people who are price sensitive. If the city just got it's hands off of the downtown and deregulated the zoning, i think a lot of people would be really interested. Good transit linking the major parts of the city would still be vital.

Most of NY development was not legal. Artist's moved in and just sort of took over. Now that kind of demand is flowing into Philly.

Well anyway this whole conversation has made me much more down. It's kind of Amazing what has happened to the world or at least America. Cities used to just like happen. A core transit line. Some major rail lines to other cities and that is that. London, Berlin,Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, that's how they work. As you go on you ad commuter lines as needed. This is not really hard.

As far as what i have said, about transit to the outlying area. This is what I said. The first priority is to link the city together. Then after that one puts lines out along the high density paths. Stuff like the T to the South Hills.

Metro North, Path and the Long Island railroad did not precede the subways.


John Morris

I do think that one is looking for answers to problems, that looking at history and comparing to similar situations is important. It's also important to look at sucessful situations.

That's why saying stuff like " Pittsburgh is not NY or Chicago or San francisco is not wise. While these cities are far from perfect, they are more sucessful than Pittsburgh. It's also important to know that every city is facing issues with sprawl and some like NY have found out how to counteract a lot of it's negative effects.

As far as how the city functioned before. Most people did live near the city and density levels were much higher-- about double. Lawrenceville had around 23,000 - 25,000 people cramed in as compared to around 12,000 today. I am not sure about bloomfield, but the numbers were around double.

As far as my remark about the Southside, I think I said "semi Sucessfull" , and i will stick with that. The area does manage to support a grocery one can walk to on Carson as well as the one by the river and a decent variety of stores, coffee shops and a copy shop. For Pittsburgh, it qualifies as a wonder.

Does anyone want to argue that the growth of it's suburbs were a free market thing? There was a planned and sometimes forced evacuation.

sean mcdaniel

okay...so path metro north and the lirr came after the subways. i'll trust you on that one. but why...because new york was too crowded. and so that people who conducted business between newark, hoboken and jersey city and new york city had a way to get back and forth without cars. let's just say that the population density of all the cities neighborhood maxes out (not considering that we build upwards everywhere), then what? would people be forced to live in the city, no matter what?

do you know that london was so densely populated in the early to mid 1800 that the average height of a person there shrunk by two inches? i don't know about you, but my gene pool needs that boost in physical stature.

anyway, if our ancestors hadn't gone off in search of wide open spaces in places like, oh, pittsburgh, kansas, wyoming and everywhere else, nyc would be like mexico city today...teeming with far too many people living in squalor. it's the american nature to get a piece of land for one's self. ever hear of a film genre called the western? guess those sodbusters were really the first suburbanites...actually, you can blame all the rich industrialist bastards who built their mansions as far away from their mills and factories as is possible for suburbs, which is what a lot of today's neighborhoods were 100 to 125 years ago, even lawrenceville.

cities are like sea monkeys...you can't drop them in water (or near it) and watch them expand...it takes a little more than that.

John Morris

Yes, NY grew as it became crowded. It grew from the inside out.

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