Lately there’s been a flurry of bike/ped/urbanist social media comparing old aerial photos of cities against those same vantage points today. The difference is alarming. Where once compact, connected neighborhoods comprised most of the city space now reside deep freeway scars, endless seas of parking lots, and barren blocks. Be glad the ‘now‘ shots are taken from space – you’re spared the sight of smog.
This didn’t happen overnight. If it had, there would have been mass rioting in the streets to protect peoples’ homes (a few did). Eminent domain was only supposed to be used if it served the public good. Today you’d be hard pressed to find a planner who’d vouch for urban freeways as a ‘good’ at all.
Over the decades of so-called ‘prosperity’ following WWII, auto-centric infrastructure was prized above all other considerations. Hundreds of thousands of homes were wrecking-balled, deep grooves were dug into the Earth. Likely millions of Americans were eventually displaced. The end result honestly makes one want to weep for what we threw away for the sake of the car.
— Eric Budd (@ericmbudd) October 14, 2014