Originally posted by Ian Anderson
In the spirit of the coolest website out there, "Jump the Shark," located at http://www.jumptheshark.com, can we identify when and how specific cities may have jumped the shark? This could be a humorous thread, or it can be a sobering one, or perhaps both ("irreverent yet insightful"). The goal is definitelty to have a lively and interesting discussion, as always!
The question posed by Dan Tasman in the Buffalo thread in this Planning Polemic folder is similar to the jump the shark phenomenon, however, we are looking for a specific moment in time for city decline, not for when a television show began to tank. But perhaps you are still wondering what exactly "jump the shark" means. I'll let the FAQ sheet from the jump the shark site do the explaining:
"Q. What is jumping the shark?
A. It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark." From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.
The aforementioned expression refers to the telltale sign of the demise of Happy Days, our favorite example, when Fonzie actually "jumped the shark." The rest is history.
Jumping the shark applies not only to TV, but also music, film, even everyday life. "Did you see her boyfriend? She definitely jumped the shark." You get the idea."
Okay, it's me again. So, to get things started, I'll start with Detroit, here in my state of Michigan.
In the summer of 1967 racial tensions were high and eventually a blind pig was raided by the Detroit police. Days of rioting ensued, and the army had to be sent in. Since then, the city has experienced massive white flight and population decline. The city definitely jumped the shark 14 years ago (or perhaps not, depending on your status and view of life). More recently, specifically in 1999, Detroit opened its first casino, with two more that opened since then. Has Detroit once again jumped the shark? Will casinos boost Detroit's stature in the global economy? Who knows. The damage, or, depending on whose side you're on, perception of damage, will not be visible for a number of years.
Regarding Buffalo, my hometown, there have been several thoeries tossed around when the metropolitan area "jumped the shark." Unlike Detroit, there was no one defining moment where residents and businesses decided to hightail it out of the metropolitan area. Although the Buffalo metro ares is economically stagnant compared to Detroit, the City of Buffalo itself seems to have weathered the storm fo the past 40 years much better than Detroit.
So, those shark-jumping moments residents usually recall include:
* The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, which permitted shipping traffic to bypass Buffalo via the Welland Canal. I don't believe this is a shark-jumping moment, because many other Great Lakes cities with a large maritime presence continued to decline even without being bypassed by the Seaway.
* The decision by the New York State Board of Regents in 1969 to locate the new University of Buffalo campus in Amherst, rather than building up the existing campus or creating a new campus downtown. Probably more of a shark-jumping moment than the Seaway, but a large college campus isn't the revitalization tool that some see it as -- take, for instance, Temple in Philadelphia, or Wayne State in Detroit.
* The closing of the Bethlehem Steel plant in 1984. Well, big steel was on its way out, anyhow, and the presence of the plant alone wouldn't have saved Buffalo, but rather delay the inevitable.
* The S&L crisis of the late '80s. Banking was bug business in Buffalo during that time, and many of the largest, fastest growing banks in the country were headquartered in Buffalo. The S&L crisis changed all that, and with consolidation a few years later, only M&T and Marine Midland survived. By the late 1980s, though, the fate of Buffalo was pretty much sealed.
The most recent school of thought is that Buffalo declined for two reasons: the "price of leadership" and the lack of corporate headquarters.
Heavy industry was the dot-com of the early 1900s, and Buffalo was the equivalent of the Silicon Valley in that regard. When it became evident that the future of the nation's economy lay in technology and the service sector, it was too late; Buffalo was already too entrenched.
Buffalo only had a few Fortune 500 companies, most in heavy industry or mineral extraction. Buffalo was seen as a "back office" city. Because corporate leaders didn't live in the city, they had very little interest in its destiny, cultural institutions, or quality of life. There was also no agglomeration of corporate headquarters that would have been a potential factor in wooing the head offices of other large corporations to the city.
When did Buffalo jump the shark? In my opinion, once in 1900, and again in 1950.
Originally posted by Ian Anderson
This is great! On the Jump the Shark website you can rank specific points of time in a TV show's history as to when it might have tanked. (No one ever actually agrees on a specific moment.) If your bulleted points about Buffalo (or any other city for that matter) could be ranked by the Cyburbia community, then we'd have our Jump the Shark site. But for now, we need more cities to talk about! Who's next?!
Comparing to TV shows that jumped the shark ...
Buffalo = Friends. No one big shark jumping, but lots of little ones that you knew were inevitable -- Ross and Racher, Monica and Chandler, Tom Sellick, and a bunch of other small, yet significant events, each of which drove a few more viewers away from the show.
Detroit - Mad About You. Great show, until Mabel was born. Those were the "riots" that spelled the downfall for the series.
Originally posted by Peachy Planner
Hey! Jump the Shark is a cool website. Jump the Shark One was an interesting exchange about decaying rust belt cities.
Let's switch gears, now. I get tired of hearing about how we planners get no respect. I differ with many of my griping peers as to why, perhaps. No real dedicated planning pro likes to start out working in a dingy basement at an annex building, nor do they like the arrogant bastards who tell us that were faceless bureaucrats or overeducated know-it-alls just because we suggest than their projects or plans need Rx.
However, we in the profession don't do ourselves any favors, either. We have a weak professional association that seems to have lost its nerve since the demise of HUD 701 in the early eighties.
I want to see a stronger developing profession. It seems though that planning has lost its sense of direction or focus. We always try to reinvent ourselves with faddish buzzwords or acronyms.
Hence, has planning jumped the shark? How and when?
I have thrown down the gauntlet!
Originally posted by cobus
Although I take the phrase out of context, I think that you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned "reinvent(ing) ourselves."
Television has programs (e.g. Happy Day's, Laverne and Shirley), and those programs run in trends given where society stands and how the producers see society. Using the examples, a longing for a simpler time.
It is my opinion that planning itself has its programs (PUD's, PDR's, New Urbanism, etc.), and these programs run with society and how legislators and policy makers view our society. Using the examples, preservation and a move away from the cookie cutter approach. Programs are what jump the shark.
Again, great question!! You have me thinking!! The planning profession, beyond the programs, also functions or is percieved as part of the general trend in our society. I would never, ever want to believe that my chosen profession would become obsolete, or be destined to be canceled. I would like to think that if I was a professional in the time of New Towns that I would be a dreamer, full of utopian thoughts. I would also like to think that in the 50' that I would done my best to provide housing for the 100,000's that wanted new homes in whatever layout availible. I would do my best with the tools I had.
In conclusion, I don't think that the field will ever "jump the shark." I hope we stay fast on our feet and ready to reinvent, although with more foresight than just to serve society's immediate needs. Due to critical overload and burn-out, I recently have had the opportunity for a new perspective on planning. As my planning friends would say, I moved to the "dark side" and working for the developer. I can not wait to return to local govt.!!!
Don't give up...this very posting site is well enough affirmation that people are out there with the same concerns and dedication as yourself. I find the greatest and strongest professional association is at the other end of the phone line with people who I have worked with and who taught me many a lesson (positively or negatively).
Originally posted by Peachy Planner
You are correct! It is the programs that JTS. As I tell my fellow planners here in Georgia our profession is young, historically speaking. However, we still lack a franchise player. Duany and Calthorpe have great sttuff, but, they don't appeal to the masses, for example.
In the spirit of the JTS website, let's pick on neo-traditionalism. How and when did it JTS?
I say Day One. Neo-Trad or NU is nothing more than a sun-belt baby-boomer trend. I have yet to see an example that serves predominately low-to-moderate income households, or incorporates manufactured housing. Puhleeeze!
Originally posted by Ian Anderson
Or we could pick on Modernism, a Corbusian disaster from day one. Perhaps it initially served its function by rejecting the imperialistic architecture of the European monarchies. But in the end (circa about now), it sucked big-time. But then again, these are more about architectural styles then trends in the planning profession. And thinking about trends in planning and consideing if it ever JTS, then I would say that it hasn't. It's a young profession and has a bunch crap created by a bunch of other people shoved onto its plate. Planners have no power, they create no policy (at least here in Michigan they don't), and they just sit in meetings talking and talking and talking. We work very hard and get no respect. So yeah, planning has not JTS yet.
Originally posted by cobus
When did NU JTS??
I think it was when developers of office/industrial PUD's started to throw some attached condo's and some commerical/retail outlets on the same property and called it NU. The actual jump occured when the big guys of NU (one of which in my opinion is simply a developer in sheep's clothing) did nothing to challenge these pseudo-NU plans because they didn't want to jeopardize their own plans.
Maybe I'm just a wee bitter, but we got flooded with mixed-use development labeled NU for the purposes of wowing our bright-eyed PC members who liked the original concept (all over the age of 50 with wonderful stories of their neighborhoods growing-up). True boomers.
The only mention of low to moderate income comes in one big word "diversity." No one will define diversity, though. I'm sorry, you build a 1000-ac. NU development outside of booming metropolitan area, say with a university of national stature, you will not have affordable housing in this development. Rouse aimed for it and missed. Heck, I'm moderate income and I live in the OU (old urbanism). But my kids are going older, so look out suburbs and better school districts, here I come!!!!
Anyhow, I'm ranting now, NU JTS when it became tangled with the traditional issues of local politic and the desire of developers to maximize profit and the NU proponents, in order to succeed, IN MY OPINION, did not stand their ground, nor did they go after the copy-cats. A fate I assume shared by many.
P.S. Ian, I share your geography....and your pain.
Originally posted by peachy planner
Cobus and Ian...
Said so much better than I could have that late evening regarding NU.
I once shared your geography, too. I recently came to Washtenaw Co. when a relative died. To coin an overused term, sprawl is badly out of control in SE Mich. Has anyone there heard of growth management (aren't they calling it smart growth today?), adequate public facilities requirements, impact fees?
In my home township, I noticed that a Meijer's Superstore was again being proposed in an absurd location (inadequate infrastructure, incompatible land uses, etc.) for the third time. This time the developer tried to manipulate the township's PUD provisions by submitting a weak mixed use proposal. I tipped off my aunt who was part of a well organized neighborhood NIMBY group. I anonymously fed the group all the planning knowledge I had. The NIMBY's held their ground based on rational zoning factors and the developer ultimately withdrew his proposal. The township almost took it hook, line and sinker, though. Not suprisingly, the township is made up of the same good ol boys who ran the place when I grew up there (including my old civics teacher who made a backroom zoning deal a few years ago w/ a manufactured home park developer - evil SOB).
However, I don't have much room to talk. Seen Atlanta or any other Georgia MSA, lately? Same playground, different playmates. Lotta places in GA that hasn't heard of zoning yet, either.
New meat for JTS!
What ever happened to performance zoning and the great Lane Kendig? When did PZ jump the shark?
I say it never jumped. While hard to implement in its true form, Kendig's prinicples live on, albeit in hybrid forms. Although you could say it JTS when the courts first stuck it down in Hardin County, KY.
Let's hear it!