Vox writes more about how freeways have transformed American cities — not for the better — and includes some dramatic photo evidence.
In the 1950s, tearing down neighborhoods for “urban renewal” and freeways was seen as progress.
But tearing down a struggling neighborhood rarely made problems like crime and overcrowding go away. To the contrary, displaced people would move to other neighborhoods, often exacerbating overcrowding problems. Crime rates rose, not fell, in the years after these projects.
By cutting urban neighborhoods in half, planners undermined the blocks on either side of the freeway. The freeways made nearby neighborhoods less walkable. Reduced foot traffic made them less attractive places for stores and restaurants. And that, in turn, made them even less walkable. Those with the means to do so moved to the suburbs, accelerating the neighborhoods’ decline.
Little Rock, as we’ve noted many times, provides stark evidence, particularly in the sharp dividing line between prosperity and poverty thrown up by the Mills Freeway.
Vox writes to focus attention on the work of Shane Hampton, a researcher at the University of Oklahoma, who has compiled before-and-after images of freeway impact on many major cities. They illustrate the neighborhoods leveled for freeways and big interchanges. Sorry to say Little Rock is not among those in his collection. But it differs little in substance.
Take some photos to coming meetings on the 30 Crossing project to widen the concrete gulch that tore Little Rock and North Little Rock asunder, widening necessary to get people out of town faster to the suburbs at the expense of existing neighborhoods.