More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 3:22 PM

click to enlarge Futurama, a one-acre diorama built by General Motors for the 1939 World's Fair in New York promoting a network of highways.
  • Futurama, a one-acre diorama built by General Motors for the 1939 World's Fair in New York promoting a network of highways.

Vox, a news website that concerns itself with energy and other issues, has a fine piece, including before and after images, on the history of the U.S. interstate system and why roads were built through the middle of cities (unless people of influence stopped them — see Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) It's a remarkable history of available federal money for urban renewal and road building, the desires of the automobile industry, and the notion that blasting away neighborhoods would wipe out blight.

Author Joseph Stromberg writes:
State and city politicians accepted these plans for a variety of reasons. In an era when suburbs had just begun to grow, [Professor Joseph] DiMento says, "local politicians saw urban freeways as a way of bringing suburban commuters into city." Some local businesspeople supported them for similar reasons.

But an unmistakable part of the equation was the federally supported program of "urban renewal," in which lower-income urban communities — mostly African-American — were targeted for removal.

"The idea was 'let's get rid of the blight,'" says DiMento. "And places that we'd now see as interesting, multi-ethnic areas were viewed as blight." Highways were a tool for justifying the destruction of many of these areas.
Yet, as Stromberg illustrates, the destruction led to more blight, more crime and sprawl.

Highway builders will never be convinced that their dollars are better spent shuttling people around urban centers and supporting public transit. Quality of life does not fit into the equation. Thanks to the 30 Crossing project to widen I-30, Little Rock is about to relearn old lessons that didn't apparently didn't take the first time around — unless city leaders get the gumption to insist that alternatives that address vital urban issues are considered and tell the state highway department to back off.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

Readers also liked…

  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016
  • Mitch Landrieu on the removal of Confederate tributes in New Orleans

    You want to hear the words of a strong mayor? Read the speech delivered by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal of the last of four Lost Cause tributes in the city. THIS is a strong mayor. Brilliant.
    • May 22, 2017
  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation