Urbanism and its end

National: A recent conclave of urban-renaissance advocates in Dayton was convened to brainstorm alternatives to the pervasive decline which Rae calls "the end of urbanism" which is exemplified by such 50% population-loss basket cases as Detroit and Youngstown. One recommendation: urge the media not to call them basket cases. Another: bring in street theatre and puppet shows to emphasize the "creative economy". A third: level the abandoned buildings, sell the scrap lumber and brick, and plant subsidized gardens. And a fourth, from Dayton's Mayor: "we are developing a boutique city". She declined to elaborate. On her behalf, I will.

I'd guess that iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright's advocacy for, and prediction of, the total disappearance of the traditional (think cubistic high-rises, brick-paved streets and light-rail trackage) city and its replacement by a very green and low density Broadacre City with no centers, is over-stated, and that small to mid-sized urban cores in particular can survive and prevail by offering small-scale industry, research, business, commerce, and professional services. Maybe that's what she calls "the boutique city" but then chooses, in a nation-wide venue, not to describe.

The conference chose not to recognize the serendipitous and synchronous urban-future news event of the decade: the first step in the departure of the New York Stock Exchange from lower Manhattan in downtown New York City. A decade ago, NYC paid the NYSE a more-than-half-billion bribe to stay, but now, in the first tranche of its exit-by-stages, the Exchange's fast-trade hub is about to depart for exurban Mahwah on the New York\New Jersey line.

Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.

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