A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

They Bulldozed It

Above: Franklin and Oxford Streets in the 1950s. The other historic photo (below) shows another stretch of the long-lost Franklin Street (historic photographs courtesy of Maine Memory Network)
This photograph here is what the corner of Franklin and Oxford Streets looked like about 50 years ago, before the WASPs on the City Council noticed the Irish name on the corner store, called it a "slum," and bulldozed it all to create the hated Franklin Arterial.

Below, another photograph from the same site of another spot on the former Franklin Street. It's hard to know exactly where, since the buildings, shady elm trees, and even the sidewalks have been gone for decades. For those readers who have never been to Portland, here's what urban renewal gave us instead: a grass median full of garbage, some scrubby trees growing over the old neighborhood's rubble, and four lanes of traffic unencumbered by crosswalks or sidewalks. Here's a photo (the Franklin Towers, Portland's tallest building and a fine example of Soviet Sentimental architecture, commands a fine view of the no-man's-land):

Note how all of these "slum dwellings" in the old photos bear striking resemblance to historic homes that now sell for over $1 million in surrounding neighborhoods. Way to invest in real estate, you jingoist highway-engineering dipshits.

Here's some good news, though: my new buddy Patrick writes about schemes to repair past urban renewal idiocy with a new Franklin Boulevard in the Bollard this week: read about it here. Tomorrow at the Franklin Towers will be a "revisioning workshop" to brainstorm new ideas for the blighted pavement - perhaps I'll see you there. Finally, here's a previous post about fixing Franklin Arterial.

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