Let’s learn from past

Macclesfield Express - - BARLOW’S BRIEF -

DUR­ING the 1950s many neigh­bour­hoods in New York were flat­tened un­der the guise of ‘ur­ban re­newal’.

Res­i­dents were promised new and im­proved hous­ing to re­place their old, over-crowded brownstone apart­ment blocks.

Ameni­ties pre­vi­ously de­nied them would be made avail­able to all. Life would be bet­ter for work­ing fam­i­lies. De­struc­tion of the old would make way for the new.

What res­i­dents had in mind were mod­ern homes and, in the main, they got them. What they didn’t ex­pect was for those homes to be 20 miles away in a bland, new sub­ur­bia.

Neigh­bours who had sup­ported each other through war and eco­nomic de­pres­sion were scat­tered across the land­scape. Fac­to­ries took ad­van­tage of gen­er­ous re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages, mov­ing South and West where labour was cheap and the work­ing class of New York lost their em­ploy­ment.

Mean­while their old neigh­bour­hoods be­came free­ways and sky­scrapers, mak­ing huge prof­its for devel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tions which clev­erly with­held land un­til de­mand forced up the price.

The de­struc­tion of the mag­nif­i­cent Penn­syl­va­nia Sta­tion fi­nally gal­vanised sup­port for ar­chi­tec­tural preser­va­tion, sav­ing fur­ther NY neigh­bour­hoods from oblit­er­a­tion.

The phi­los­o­phy that new was in­trin­si­cally bet­ter than old came to be seen as wan­ton des­e­cra­tion. Some of those sur­viv­ing neigh­bour­hoods now form the most thriv­ing parts of the city.

Maybe be­fore we de­stroy ev­ery­thing that’s good about Cheshire, CEC may want to take stock? His­tory can be a harsh judge.

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