There is something heartening about someone having it worse than you. As I read through article after article about urban Renaissance from coast to coast, and about developers really understanding the idea of putting people first, and about cities doing away with parking minimums, I realize that here we are still fighting the battles of 1963; there are still people who would contemplate razing a perfectly good historic building at the 100% corner of a major metro center…for a parking lot…albeit as part of a plan to restore a different historic structure.
Some places, thank goodness, are even more backwards than we are. Perhaps.
As a share from Chuck Marohn on Facebook I read this piece about tearing down an amazing structure in Dayton, Ohio. Razing this in Dayton because it’s empty:
is much worse, I must admit, than believing that you must remove this:
to save this:
That said, there is too much parking in downtown Springfield, it is demonstrably true. That parking lots and garages are positively correlated to failure, poverty, and decline is also demonstrably true. But we live in a time when bad ideas trump better ideas because lived reality has not yet caught up to the inevitable, that is also true.
For years I would spend time at the Quadrangle here in the downtown with dozens of Russian speaking immigrants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other of the former Soviet Republics. I was talking to a friend this week about those days and he responded that “they all live in Agawam (a suburb) now.”
“Yes”, I said, “but they will have to return some day. We won’t always be able to drive 2 ton vehicles 4 miles just to buy milk!”
He looked at me as though I had just chanted some sort of shamanic incantation. John Michael Greer says it is like telling a medieval peasant that there is no God. Kunstler describes it as touching on the “master wish” which is to “drive to Wal Mart forever”.
Even if you believe that renewable energy and electric cars can and will perpetuate the American Way of Life in some way (I don’t), it must be apparent that it will inevitably make us uncompetitive. A society in which no one can do anything without the use of expensive prosthetic devices requiring huge amounts of energy and tremendous and perpetual expenditures on infrastructure will eventually lose out to societies which minimize those demands.
Things that can’t go on forever, don’t. Even as that becomes undeniable regarding automotive dependency a great many people will reject the obvious I have no doubt. If you don’t believe me, there’s an Ark Park in Kentucky you can visit; medieval peasants everywhere!