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NcSc74

Did urban renewal really kill NC cities history

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I decided to start this topic to give all the chance really eloborate on this subject instead of in a thread about a new project. There are a lot of great discussions going on about this very topic and I just wanted to open it up a little more without annoying the mods.

My hypothesis is that urban renewal fit what NC civic leaders wanted and in some cases needed. One just has to look at NC history to see that in terms of historical significance, commercial economy, regional and national clout NC trailed all southeastern states since it became a colony. With that stigma it is my guess that civic leaders of several cities felt they needed something to get an edge on the first tier cities of the south. It all boils down to wealth. If your city was wealthy then you have the type of developments that could possibly stand the time and become a historical district. How many NC cities had that kind of wealth. Only a one or two come to mind for me. Its no coincidence that urban renewal didn't destroy their history.

There was a underlying psychological need for urban renewal in NC. Never thought of as being relevant and being stereotyped as poor and slow to grow. What better way to try and reverse that trend. I am sure there are varying views of this topic but I can't see why else our cities are so devoid of historical influence as compared to other southern cities. Charlotte and Raleigh are our calling cards but yet we argue on the historic factor so much about these cities. What other explaination is there......

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I don't know if urban renewal has completly damaged North Carolina's urban heritage, but I do know that the cities that have managed to keep much of their older architecture like Winston-Salem and Asheville are the most interesting. While walking through downtown Charlotte recently, I was amazed at how so few buildings from the 1920's-60's still remain. Other cities like Greensboro have managed to keep some of it's older architecture downtown, much of it's density is gone thanks to the urban renewal projects from the 60's and 70's.

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I decided to start this topic to give all the chance really eloborate on this subject instead of in a thread about a new project. There are a lot of great discussions going on about this very topic and I just wanted to open it up a little more without annoying the mods.

My hypothesis is that urban renewal fit what NC civic leaders wanted and in some cases needed. One just has to look at NC history to see that in terms of historical significance, commercial economy, regional and national clout NC trailed all southeastern states since it became a colony. With that stigma it is my guess that civic leaders of several cities felt they needed something to get an edge on the first tier cities of the south. It all boils down to wealth. If your city was wealthy then you have the type of developments that could possibly stand the time and become a historical district. How many NC cities had that kind of wealth. Only a one or two come to mind for me. Its no coincidence that urban renewal didn't destroy their history.

There was a underlying psychological need for urban renewal in NC. Never thought of as being relevant and being stereotyped as poor and slow to grow. What better way to try and reverse that trend. I am sure there are varying views of this topic but I can't see why else our cities are so devoid of historical influence as compared to other southern cities. Charlotte and Raleigh are our calling cards but yet we argue on the historic factor so much about these cities. What other explaination is there......

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I can objectively say it really hurt Durham. Probably more than any other city.

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I happen to think that urban renewal destroyed a lot of neighborhoods - particularly inner-city predominantly African-American neighborhoods. I ran across this article online, which talks about "urban renewal" in Charlotte.

Urban renewal

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I happen to think that urban renewal destroyed a lot of neighborhoods - particularly inner-city predominantly African-American neighborhoods. I ran across this article online, which talks about "urban renewal" in Charlotte.

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I happen to think that urban renewal destroyed a lot of neighborhoods - particularly inner-city predominantly African-American neighborhoods. I ran across this article online, which talks about "urban renewal" in Charlotte.

Urban renewal

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Hmmm, interesting references to Urban Planet and it's management in that article as well...

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The article was not written very objectively as inferred by the author's attitude:

(1) Questioning someone's intellect

(2) Forcing their idea of good urbanism down your throat

Not perfect, but compared to 15 years ago, Charlotte and NC downtowns have made a U-TURN! The fallacy of the author's premise that there was a "mythical urban" Charlotte pre-urban renewal is perplexing. Save a few (New Orleans, Richmond, Memphis, etc), southern cities have not been that urban, so urban renewal had minimal impact.

The relocation of retail (and/or entertainment) to the outskirts diminished downtown activity in many cities. Especially those without the urban fabric to cater to both worlds. No city in NC had that kind of a capacity. I remember shopping and attending movies in downtown Wilmington in the 70s. When Independence Mall opened, theatres, etc., activity was re-directed, thus the "center city" suffered. Plenty of historic bldgs/homes in downtown Wilmington, but downtown was dismal in the 80s and part of the 90s.

Wilmington reinvented itself (part Hollywood, part mini-Charleston, part party town). In other words urban renewal didn't devastate Wilmington, but the way people conducted their business did.

The author focuses on the negatives of new urbanism versus the positives. Plenty of progress happening in downtown Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, etc. People mobilizing to the "center city" or surrounding core.

Crime must be kept under control, people are not going to live near or what's considered dangerous. It's a tough balancing act, attempting to create affordable housing and/or entertainment for all people.

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I decided to start this topic to give all the chance really eloborate on this subject instead of in a thread about a new project. There are a lot of great discussions going on about this very topic and I just wanted to open it up a little more without annoying the mods.

My hypothesis is that urban renewal fit what NC civic leaders wanted and in some cases needed. One just has to look at NC history to see that in terms of historical significance, commercial economy, regional and national clout NC trailed all southeastern states since it became a colony. With that stigma it is my guess that civic leaders of several cities felt they needed something to get an edge on the first tier cities of the south. It all boils down to wealth. If your city was wealthy then you have the type of developments that could possibly stand the time and become a historical district. How many NC cities had that kind of wealth. Only a one or two come to mind for me. Its no coincidence that urban renewal didn't destroy their history.

There was a underlying psychological need for urban renewal in NC. Never thought of as being relevant and being stereotyped as poor and slow to grow. What better way to try and reverse that trend. I am sure there are varying views of this topic but I can't see why else our cities are so devoid of historical influence as compared to other southern cities. Charlotte and Raleigh are our calling cards but yet we argue on the historic factor so much about these cities. What other explaination is there......

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It's an interesting hypothesis, but I'm not sure NC cities are any worse off than plenty of other cities where a large swaths of neighborhoods were decimated by "renewal." I'll give you these: Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Durham.

It's well-documented that the Queen City has very little left of it's past. Building I-277 sure didn't help things, but more than that was the lack of foresight in the city to protect valuable historic resources. Throw in the fact that it grew rapidly during the auto-boom of the 50s-80s, and you can see the results... way too little history, and way too many surface parking lots.

Winston-Salem has I-40. While it still has a lot of historic structures/neighborhoods left, running 40 thru there must have had a big impact. Others might be able to elaborate.

It's also well-known for Durham Freeway (now 147), which ripped through a number of historic neighborhoods near downtown. View the following posts about Durham's lost history, including old Union Station, which was replaced by a hideous parking deck... ahh yes, good ole Moses style urban renewal.

Unlike the other three, Raleigh was barely spared a downtown freeway in the early 70s (thankfully!), but in general, most of the really heinous UR projects have taken place in cities outside of NC, where there was much more to be lost.

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Man..I meant to get in on this topic much earlier. I tend to have the best feel...better than a feel...I can guestimate numbers using what I know used to be there......so going with the title of the thread did urban renewal kill NC cities history? Well, that depends on when you consider it "kill"ed. I like to use the year 1900 as a measuring stick because neither cars nor reinforced concrete were in widespread use. Its kind of the maximum historical buildout for most places and a sort of stasis set in until the 1930's...the teens and twenties saw lots of increase in inner city density though so you were losing some colonial history around this time. Still, of the buildings in Raleigh standing in the year 1900, I estimate that 60-75% of the residential structures are gone and more like 90% of the commercial ones. If you moved the cut back to say the 1872 Drie map of Raleigh, about twenty houses are left, ten or so institutional buildings and 4 commercial buildings. This from about a thousand visible structures in the Drie map. To really answer the question, I guess you would have to pick a start date for urbanrenewal......1946 say? WWII just ended. And another fine point...."kill" infers past tense.....Raleigh still has plans to knock down buildings from the 1870's....I say urban renewal is still killing our history...

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urban renewal did rip up many African-American businesses along East Market St in Greensboro back in the 60s. It was considered Greensboro's "black downtown". There were a number of cafes, theaters and businesses.

Thank God Elm Street in downtown is intact. A former mayor back in the 70s wanted to tear down all the old buildings along Elm Street to build a downtown mall. The Carolina Theater almost became a porno palace.

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urban renewal did rip up many African-American businesses along East Market St in Greensboro back in the 60s. It was considered Greensboro's "black downtown". There were a number of cafes, theaters and businesses.

Thank God Elm Street in downtown is intact. A former mayor back in the 70s wanted to tear down all the old buildings along Elm Street to build a downtown mall. The Carolina Theater almost became a porno palace.

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I think Asheville might disagree with that. They are a city that urban renewal (mostly) skipped over. My understanding is that during that era, the economy out there sucked since I-26 and I-40 had not been completed yet (mountains being among the more difficult parts to build).

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