Friday, May 1, 2009

Taking a cue from Braddock, PA

If Braddock can do it, so can we. That's the message out of Metro Mode this week, which profiles a dying industrial town just downriver from Pittsburgh that's trying to reinvent itself as a dirt-cheap refuge for artists, urbanists, and environmentalists. The mayor, John Fetterman, who looks like he just stepped out of the Old Miami, has set up a website,, that sells the ruined city as "an unparalleled opportunity for the urban pioneer, artist, or misfit" to "create amidst destruction." He seems to be getting some traction, too, at least in the press and academy. He's been interviewed by the New York Times, the Colbert Report, the Daily Show, PBS, and NPR, and he recently spoke at U of M's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

I haven't read/heard it all yet, but I'd definitely like to learn more. What do the current residents really think of this all? Do they buy it? Are outsiders actually moving in? And, as Metro Mode asks, what can Detroit take away from this?

The photo, by the way, is taken from the gallery of "Ruins" on the city's website --- probably the only municipal website in the United States that not only openly acknowledges its urban decay (and its Crips affiliation!) but embraces it, too, as "malignant beauty."

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