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Thread: Unexplainable boundaries: blight vs preservation

  1. #1

    Unexplainable boundaries: blight vs preservation

    while floating around in satelite land (over Buffalo NY) I noticed a very disinct line. On one side of a street the density of houses was very high. On the other side the density was greatly reduced.

    See below


    The area shown here is a part of Buffalo's East Side called Hamlin Park. I had often heard that Hamlin Park was a very nice intact neighborhood on Buffalo's mostly devestated East Side. This boundary clearly shows where the stable Hamlin Park abuts the ravaged East Side that most people in Western New York associate with "the city".

    This image interests me because there is nothing visible other than a street that divides these two neighborhoods. Usually there is a shrap contrast in land use, geography or a major road or highway that separates two areas. but this is a minor street and the housing on each side is identical in age and type and yet one side is seeing rampant vacancy and neglect followed demolition while the other is in very good condition with very high density.

    Whats up with this? Do you know of other examples of this kind of thing?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    It appears there may be some type of commercial/institutional uses along the road that divides the two sections. Often, something as simple as a quick change in use will result in "separate neighborhoods".

    What this speaks to is the importance of a community's street network and its ability to separtate, divide, and/or unite. Typically, the wider the street, the more ability it has to divide. I've seen this in plenty of places in the city of Detroit, and to a lesser extent in Grand Rapids.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Whats up with this? Do you know of other examples of this kind of thing?
    [shot in the dark]
    Perhaps the street is a long-standing zoning district boundary.
    [/shot in the dark]
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
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  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    [shot in the dark]
    Perhaps the street is a long-standing zoning district boundary.
    [/shot in the dark]
    or a high school/elementary school catchment area boundary?

    Dan, Rumpy......are you out there?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    This image interests me because there is nothing visible other than a street that divides these two neighborhoods.
    As someone else noted: there appears to be a commercial strip along one side of the street which also separates them. Plus I am curious what the big building is in the middle of the bottom neighborhood and how that affects neighborhood character.
    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Whats up with this? Do you know of other examples of this kind of thing?
    Not exactly the same thing: My understanding is that you can distinctly tell the border of Mexico from...Columbia? (Or some other country to the south of it.) The reason is that one of them encourages "homesteading" which results in clearcutting of the rain forest which is not very resilient. The border is marked by where the lush forest ends and barren area begins. Sigh.

  6. #6
    There may be historical reasons acting here. Was one neighborhood redlined so that no one could get loans? In Boston, we can still see the results of racial redlining in 1969 cutting across neighborhoods today.

    Other issues: Was there a parish boundary or a council district boundary? Could there be underlying soils problems?

  7. #7
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
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    I was curious too - so I reviewed the demographic data for this area, nothing out of the ordinary when comparing the two block groups.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Poking around the City of Buffalo GIS site I discovered several things:

    1. The street name is Park
    2. The large building to the south is an elementary school
    3. The entire area, save for a few commercial parcels on Park, is zoned R2
    4. Park is the boundary between two police districts
    5. Park also divides the Hamlin Park and Kingsley planning neighborhoods
    6. The whole area is in one common council district

    I would agree that this is likely due to redlining by financial institutions. Park Street was probably selected as an appropriate line to demarcate areas for investment and disinvestment. I do not know if Buffalo schools operate as neighborhood schools or citywide schools, as is the case in Boston due to desegregation orders. The GIS maps did not have a school district option.

  9. #9
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Different types of housing. VASTLY different types of housing.

    North of the line, you're looking at large two-flats and single family houses; at one time, it was the heart of Buffalo's Russian/Polish Jewish community. Today, it's still a largely middle-class neighborhood, although now blacks make up almost all of the population. South of the line, most of the housing stock are the narrow frame telescoping houes associated, built for a more working-class population; it's just past the edge of the Fruit Belt.

    Telescoping houses are functionally obsolete; many are laid out like the shotgun shacks of the South, while others have awful delineation between public and private space; bathrooms directly off the kitchen, bedrooms off the living room without an intervening hallway, and so on. Many have heating systems with only one or two large vents. It would cost far more to modernize them up than what they're worth - they're sold for under $10,000 in many cases.

    Development of the area south of the line took place mostly before WWI. North of the line, most housing was built after WWI.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Different types of housing. VASTLY different types of housing.

    North of the line, you're looking at large two-flats and single family houses; at one time, it was the heart of Buffalo's Russian/Polish Jewish community. Today, it's still a largely middle-class neighborhood, although now blacks make up almost all of the population. South of the line, most of the housing stock are the narrow frame telescoping houes associated, built for a more working-class population; it's just past the edge of the Fruit Belt.

    Telescoping houses are functionally obsolete; many are laid out like the shotgun shacks of the South, while others have awful delineation between public and private space; bathrooms directly off the kitchen, bedrooms off the living room without an intervening hallway, and so on. Many have heating systems with only one or two large vents. It would cost far more to modernize them up than what they're worth - they're sold for under $10,000 in many cases.

    Development of the area south of the line took place mostly before WWI. North of the line, most housing was built after WWI.

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Dan. The houses are very similar between these neighborhoods. The houses to the south might be slightly older but they are not the very old fruit belt type telescope houses you talk about. There is something more at work. One element in this equation is the near by campus of Canisius College. The college certainly has a big impact on the streets nearer to the campus but does not explain the sharp change at this street.


    Just a note. This neighborhood is surrounded by bight on three sides. The eastern boarder is sharply marked by the Kensington Expressway which is logical but the western boarder, like the southern boarder shown is equally mysterious in that the change happens quickly at one street.

    Here are some pictures of this preserved neighborhood that I found at BuffaloRising Journal


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/buffalo...s/650272/show/

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