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Is Progress Tearing Down Parts of Our Cities?

June 24, 2009

Do you think "rundown" parts of a city should be saved or destroyed?

Do you think 'rundown' parts of a city should be saved or destroyed?

Back in the 1990s there was a term called “urban pioneers.” These were people who purchased homes or businesses in rundown, impoverished, or abandoned parts of a city. They would then renovate these properties to live in them, rent them to businesses, or gamble that one day they could sell them for a profit. Some sociologists would argue this entrepreneurship resulted in a revitalization of these rundown areas.

Today, urban pioneers are taking different forms. For example, painters, musicians, novelists, and poets are purchasing abandoned homes at auction for as little as 100 dollars. The artists then repair and move into the homes—not with the intention of selling them at a profit—but to live in their own properties within their very small budgets. What results are unplanned urban artists’ colonies.

Some local cities have a different plan. One plan in Flint, Michigan, is to bulldoze certain abandoned buildings and houses. Some of these locations have become fire hazards and/or drug houses, and have devalued the remaining structures. The President has remarked that other cities might want to look at this strategy as well.

Would you like to discuss this topic? If so, please respond to one of the discussion topics below:

1. Some people object to the idea of destroying abandoned buildings because it might increase the costs of rebuilding areas by reducing opportunities for entrepreneurs. What do you think?

2. What other strategies do you think could be employed to revitalize urban areas in today’s economy?

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