This week, in honor of the centenary of the birth of Jane Jacobs, we asked you to help us mourn the effects of urban renewal by sharing photographs of urban renewal sites in your city with the hashtag #UsedToBe. The response was outstanding! We received close to 100 submissions from across North America.
What was really cool is the mix of historic maps, archival images, street view screenshots and personal photographs that were shared. The depth and breadth of the submissions demonstrates the lingering impacts that top-down urban renewal has had, both on our urban landscape and our social psyche.
Here is a selection of some of the submissions we received this week:
Now and Then
Aerial Photos & Maps
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of #girlboss #JaneJacobs, @strongtownspics is asking people to use the hashtag #UsedToBe to talk about the effects of #UrbanRenewal. It's important to remember that even our small cities didn't escape the wrath of the urban renewal movement. Lock Haven, PA - population ~8,000 - lost its historic ethnic neighborhoods (full of circa 1850 single family dwellings) with the construction of the five lane Paul Mackey Boulevard. In a tale as old as time, the project was intended to connect the new highway to the downtown. Instead it made it possible for downtown residents to move outside of Lock Haven to larger neighboring communities, inevitably leading to brain drain and economic collapse. #thiskeystonematters #thisplacematters #historicpreservation #preservationmonth
What we lost...
...and what we have now.
This is only a small sample of the images that were shared. You can view the others in the feed below. Thank you to everyone who participated.
Our work to highlight—and mourn —the effects of urban renewal isn’t over. Please continue posting pictures of urban renewal sites to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #UsedToBe. Be sure to include a brief description of what was there before it was turned into a highway, stadium, mall, parking lot, or what ever is there now. You can also let us know what you would like the site to become in the future.
You can visit our Jane Jacobs page to learn more about Jane Jacobs’ activism, including her battles against large-scale "orderly but dumb" demolition of vibrant neighborhoods, the need for financial solvency in American towns, her insistence on local decision-making instead of top-down proclamations and her “chaotic but smart” approach to improving cities.