You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Long-Gone Minneapolis

Posted in History, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on May 9, 2005

This is a student blog, so you shouldn’t be too surprised at the lack of posting during finals season. I’ve got one thought, though, and a link (unrelated) for those who are more thoughtful about their new urbanism, or who just like old pictures.

1.) About the political process of planning – because it’s all about politics. There are a couple of essentially disconnected trains of thought in the planning profession.

First, most planners subscribe in at least a general way to the notion of new urbanism. We’ve all grown up around 60s-era modernism–we’ve seen it, and that it was bad. Even if we don’t romanticize the prewar cities, we like today’s Georgetowns and Manhattans and figure most everyone else would, too. Call this the architect’s view, since that’s where it mainly emanates from.

Second, researchers have shown that the always-frustrating, NIMBY-ridden zoning and planning process, which always seems to spit out more sprawl regardless of what the initial input is, does in fact have an economic landscape.
Describing this landscape (as William Fischel has done) should enable planners to move beyond hawking walkable downtowns to finding real strategies to make our land use goals palatable to stakeholders, especially the poor homeowners whose life savings hang in the balance with every decision.

2.) Most people today live in suburbia and have rarely seen an early 20th-century downtown. If you have, you probably think of it as a place to go out for a good time, or a classy setting to try to impress dates or family and friends from out of town. So here’s a collection of photos of a working city (Minneapolis) from that era, with some witty and insightful commentary. Enjoy!

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