Changing Places

Richard Moe, Author, Carter Wilkie, With Henry Holt & Company $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4368-6
America's failure to value our existing built environment has left us vulnerable to unappealing, economically dangerous urban sprawl. In this intelligent, engaging and well-supported history of the forces that shape the development and disintegration of communities, Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Wilkie, a speechwriter and political adviser, examine past mistakes and explain the high cost of continuing to ignore valuable assets. They argue that for lasting effect, communities must encourage the recycling of existing buildings, rather than grant developers tax abatements to drain the naturally evolved commercial and cultural centers. They offer hope for successful transformation through examples from small towns in Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as such cities as Denver, New Orleans, Memphis and Pittsburgh, that have transformed abandoned urban areas. ""The problem facing most cities today is not congestion,"" they write, ""but emptiness--how to fill in the empty holes."" Much of this work results from a shift within the preservation movement from honoring significant buildings to playing a more active role in helping grass roots development projects that span socioeconomic groups. Showing how federal government programs have failed local needs, they close with a reasoned argument for appropriate intervention at the state level. Moe and Wilkie warn that reconstruction of individual communities is as complex as the forces that created them, but we must decide the direction development will take, or risk having it decided for us. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997
Release date: 11/01/1997
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-8050-6184-0
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