Let’s learn from past
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.