Sunday, November 27, 2005


Today's New York Times magazine had an "Idea Lab" on the banlieues in France, and the debate over whether the location of the French projects or the architecture of the French projects caused the riots in France. The article discusses the projects in Paris versus those in Marseilles, as well as comparing the projects of Amsterdam to the projects of Rotterdam. Their conclusion? The high rise projects in Paris and Amsterdam don't work. Also, this quote:

In the course of the October uprising, French observers called this slum-based sense of place a "nationalisme de quartier." It is a problem. Residents of some of the most dismal projects have often proved unwilling to relocate, even when the government has promised to move them into much nicer places. Perhaps they have grown attached to their dangerous homes and neighbors. It is more likely that they're leery about accepting the promises of any government that once stuck them in such a depressing spot to begin with.

Thank goodness we have the clever people at the New York Times staring intently at Europe for this sort of insight. Meanwhile, in Chicago, we have been tearing down high rises since 2000. People have resisted relocating to mixed-income townhomes in the same area. The residents talk about the "community" they felt in the high rise projects.

In other words, back when Europe was still reeling from Clinton being replaced by Bush, Chicago was acting on what Europe is now contemplating. Unfortunately, this all happened in fly-over territory, so nobody thought of it until France burned...


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