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Dan

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I don't know if the urbanist crowd would love this or hate this. It's new affordable housing. Streets are narrow, setbacks short, and density high. Units look like they have about 600 '2 GLA. Utilities aren't buried, which lends some "authenticity" to the development. However, it's all single family. It would also invalid their belief "all the houses in American suburbs look the same, man."

My ongoing fascination with South Africa continues with this subdivision outside of Cape Town. It's gated, so Google Streetview doesn't offer any views inside. However, there's a website. The place could compete with some of the most upscale country club communities in Palm Beach County.
 

kjel

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I don't know if the urbanist crowd would love this or hate this. It's new affordable housing. Streets are narrow, setbacks short, and density high. Units look like they have about 600 '2 GLA. Utilities aren't buried, which lends some "authenticity" to the development. However, it's all single family. It would also invalid their belief "all the houses in American suburbs look the same, man."
It's interesting. Definitely meh on the design aesthetics but better than crappy apartments. Some landscaping would go a long way in making it look better.

My ongoing fascination with South Africa continues with this subdivision outside of Cape Town. It's gated, so Google Streetview doesn't offer any views inside. However, there's a website. The place could compete with some of the most upscale country club communities in Palm Beach County.
I agree. FWIW, 5 million rand is about $350K US.
 

Maister

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I don't know if the urbanist crowd would love this or hate this. It's new affordable housing. Streets are narrow, setbacks short, and density high. Units look like they have about 600 '2 GLA. Utilities aren't buried, which lends some "authenticity" to the development. However, it's all single family. It would also invalid their belief "all the houses in American suburbs look the same, man."
Talk about diverse housing stock....some houses are brown, while others are a very distinct burnt umber....chestnut......even chocolate. Wow, talk about a dizzying array of housing!

Dan said:
My ongoing fascination with South Africa continues with this subdivision outside of Cape Town. It's gated, so Google Streetview doesn't offer any views inside. However, there's a website. The place could compete with some of the most upscale country club communities in Palm Beach County.
They really need a moat is all I can say.
 
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Dan

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They really need a moat is all I can say.
In the US, gated communities are an uncommon exception rather than the norm. Many of them just have a gated car entrance, and anyone can walk in. Tighter security are others is mainly there to promote an image of exclusivity, provide some peace of mind to part-time snowbird property owners, and prevent non-residents from using amenities.

Val de Vie, though, has security measures that are unreal by American standards. I’ll just quote from their website. Emphasis mine.

A 2-meter-high wrought-iron, full electric fence protects the 15.5 km perimeter with anti-dig razor wire and concrete plinths covered by 108 intelligent analytical Bosch thermal cameras. This fence serves as the base deterrent for criminal activities, making it extremely difficult for perpetrators to gain access. Breach attempts trigger alarms in the Val de Vie control room as well as at our off-site monitoring centre, which allows investigations via our CCTV network and its on-site patrol officers.

Val de Vie Estate has six main access points. These points provide entrance via 40 vehicle access and exit lanes and turnstiles for residents and contract workers. Strict access control measures are in place at these points and each point is monitored with an array of cameras. One of the first estates in South Africa to implement biometric-access control measures, Val de Vie Estate allows for tracking of entrance and exit, and movement of persons, which are highly useful control measures. Residents are further safeguarded from unauthorised visitors via automated booms that control access to residential villages.

Two armed tactical teams, well equipped with trained dogs and handheld thermal devices, patrol the perimeter 24/7 and react to fence and camera alarms in conjunction with three unarmed response teams on the inside of the perimeter fence. License plate recognition technology is linked to the central Western Cape database and of great value in monitoring suspicious vehicle activity. Roller shutter and spike technology at all gates ensure a total lockdown of the estate in the event of an emergency.


Holy shit. This is so dystopian I don’t know where to begin.

Take yourself back to the US for a few minutes. Think of what it would be like if you were a lower middle class drywaller, or a middle class tradesperson, working on building a $700K house in a Florida golf course community. Now, back to South Africa, which has one of the highest Gini coefficients on the planet; something that persists 25 years after the end of apartheid. Construction costs in SA are low, thanks to really cheap labor. Imagine being some poor laborer, living in a very basic three-room cinder block house in Cape Flats, building a R10,000,000 house in Val de Vie.

The architecture is nice, though. It wouldn't look out of place in the US, but builders would see contemporary spec houses as a big gamble.
 

Maister

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So basically, this development is quite vulnerable to air attack. Although, I suppose at least one of the armed tactical teams might have access to a shoulder fired SAM. Seems a reasonable precaution in any case.
 
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Gedunker

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Is this Val de Vie amidst, I don't know, Gary, IN or Camden, NJ? :wow:
 

DVD

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Just sounds like plans for an actually effective border wall to me.
 

Dan

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Just sounds like plans for an actually effective border wall to me.
I think the wall for another South African gated community outside of Johannesburg might Val de Vie a run for its money.

Security is managed to the highest standards by highly trained manpower. State-of-the-art security systems are effectively and aesthetically integrated into the resident’s lifestyle so as to be non-intrusive, yet highly visible to the outside world. The perimeter is secured by a four-metre high, reinforced concrete wall, topped with an electric fence, monitored by mounted CCTV cameras, well lit and patrolled by on-site security personnel.

There's actually Google Streetview coverage inside. Here's that 4 m wall.

Dayum. I don't even have a fence in my backyard. I could drive around a neighborhood that's seen much better days in Gary, and most of the houses will have open front yards. Same thing for East St. Louis. You could hop over the front yard fences in Camden. Googledriving streets in middle class South African neighborhoods puts a lot into perspective.
 

DVD

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As much as our newer U.S. neighborhoods want the 6' fortified wall in the front yard our neighborhoods are still better. We have sidewalks and pavement, not that cobblestone looking stuff that makes everything look nicer. Also, our contractors drive real trucks that would never fit on those tiny roads, not like theirs with the reasonably sized mini pickups. Also, how is their fire department supposed to make it down the street. That thing is barely wide enough for a car. Which leads me to another thing..with such narrow roads cars would be forced to drive at reasonable speeds. USA USA USA!
 
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Maister

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Joking aside, Dan has successfully pointed out one way in which psychology manifests itself in the built environment. The (presumably white) occupants of those gated communities are truly fearful of those living outside their: gestapo-lit walls, barbed wire fence lines, dog patrols, and armed tactical response units.

For as bad a rap as crime gets in this country, we're generally far more invested in the whole social contract thing here in the US. How does this manifest in our built environment, you ask? Simple - our single family dwellings are usually equipped with no greater physical barriers than door and window locks. Someone wanting illegal entry into your home badly enough, could quite easily break a window or crow a door open in a matter of seconds. Most of us usually choose, however, not place bars in our windows or gated entries to our front yards as is so very commonplace in many other places of the world.

Mexico
Argentina
Albania
Israel
Latvia
Portugal
Bangladesh
South Korea

Note: I didn't cherry pick the google earth link locations. They were chosen quite at random, and yet at every one of these locations you can see walls, gates, and/or barred windows.
 
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Dan

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Regarding what DVD and Maister wrote: there's something to be said for the lawn/sidewalk/tree lawn/curb/street/curb/tree lawn/sidewalk/lawn streetscape of North American cities and suburbs.

Front lawns are a gentle transition between the public realm and private realm. They're also very lowercase-d democratic. Rich people aren't behind walls, like royalty in a castle. Homes of the wealthy, middle class, and poor are all open to the street. With less physical and visual separation between the private and public realm, there's more of a sense of connectedness with the surrounding community. In the words of those that champion form-based codes, streets become common living rooms, not just transportation corridors.

Sidewalks separated from the actual street surface make a street complete; accommodating and safe for both pedestrians and motor vehicles. Trees in the tree lawn shade both the street surface and sidewalk, reduce the urban heat island effect, and form an allee. When streets are narrow, and there's an adjacent sidewalk with no tree lawn, people are prone to parking their cars on the sidewalk; a very common practice throughout Europe.

Even the street surface has its layers. On-street parking calms traffic, serves as a buffer between sidewalks and street surfaces, and accommodates the vehicles or residents and visitors, so there's less of a need for off-street parking or curb cuts.

tl;dr: the North American-style public realm has a lot going for it, despitewhat the urbanatti thinks. :usa: :canada:

The paver block street surfaces and decorative curbs throughout suburban Johannesburg suburbs are quite attractive. Because masonry is the predominant building material, there's probably economies of scale allowing brickworks to cheaply pump out millions of pavers every day. However, hand-setting paver blocks is labor intensive, and labor is cheap (minimum wage is US$1.34/hour) and affordable (middle class incomes are about the same as in developed nations). Any kind of "value engineering" is pointless when you can hire 8 to 12 unskilled laborers in South Africa at the same cost as one person in the US
 

kjel

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It's not unlike the urban areas of the Dominican Republic. My SIL lives in the Luperon area of Santo Domingo, much of the newer housing stock are condos though. https://goo.gl/maps/9HktgVH36uCnKTs28

My MIL & FIL's house outside of Salcedo has a wall with a large iron gate. It's there for a reason, before it was installed they were victims of a brutal home invasion robbery.
 
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Dan

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It's not unlike the urban areas of the Dominican Republic. My SIL lives in the Luperon area of Santo Domingo, much of the newer housing stock are condos though. https://goo.gl/maps/9HktgVH36uCnKTs28
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Latin American countries -- not just Mexican border towns -- seem to have a higher concentration of pharmacies than anyplace else on earth.

Anyhow, I'm going to propose a taxonomy or scale of suburban yard enclosure. No, this isn't perfect, and there's going to be exceptions (example: the rare American-style open front yard in South Africa, new build houses in Chile without fences, Levittown France, etc) but as a starting point ...,

0 - no enclosure - US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
short shrubbery (3'-4' / 1m) - Iceland, Netherlands
short fence or wall (3'-4' / 1m) - US/urban New Jersey, UK, Ireland
short to medium fence or wall with driveway/walkway gates (4'-5' / 1.5m) - Poland, Estonia
taller fence or shrubbery (5'-6' / 2m) - France, Switzerland, Austria
taller fence with driveway/walkway gates (5'-6' / 2m) - Chile, Dubai
taller opaque fence or wall (5'-6' / 2m) - Israel
high opaque fence or wall with driveway/walkway gates (6' / 2m and taller) - Russia
10 - fortified high fence or wall with gates (6' / 2m and taller) - South Africa

tl;dr: The survivors of the global zombie apocalypse will celebrate by having a braai and drinking lots of Castle Lager.
 

kjel

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^ Fantastic that Urban NJ gets a category :roflmao:

Phoenix is interesting because on the main arterial streets where it isn't commercial, you're often looking at a 6'+ cinderblock wall rather than yards and houses.
 

Dan

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Dat's a nice patio dey got der.
Dat's da Polish porch der. We set out some uh dat indoors-outdoors carpet down der, set da TV out der during da summer, watch da Bills preseason games and play carts der, and have Babcha's olt icebox full of colt Gennycreams and Blues.

My bruter Stash has a nice REEEYANCH wit a twocar screen, on JoEEEYANN Lane near da Polish Villa's der. Dey got some uh dose real nice wicker couches from da Home Depot's out der on TrEEEYANsitroat.

(Seriously, there's something about Cheektowaga's quirky Polish-American flavored culture that's really sweet and endearing to me. I make fun of it, but it just gives me the warm fuzzies. :) )
 

mendelman

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Haha.

That's exactly what my Dad's cousin and her husband (they're in their late 80s/early 90s) have in that area of Cheekotwaga. Cheekotwaga was the Holyland for the greatest gen. of American-Polish from Buffalo's Polonia neighborhood (where my dad also grewup, but decided to move to northern MI a couple years after marrying a first gen. American-German woman from the westside of Detroit).
 
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Big Owl

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The evolution of Country Clubs/golf courses fascinates me. They appear that they started out as stand alone land uses and then at some point they became residential amenities, perhaps it is regional thing because I am only familiar with NC clubs and course and I don't golf so my knowledge is limited.

Older clubs....

Country Club of Buffalo (AIB by Dan's google map links about Cheektowaga, New York)

Charlotte Country Club

Augusta National Golf Club

Newer clubs...

The Peninsula Club

Bermuda Run Country Club

A mix of old and new...

Pinehurst Resorts, home of the famous Pinehurst #2 and 9 other courses built from 1898 to 2017.

I assume that all the above are private clubs vs public/municipal courses.

What's cyburbia's thoughts/knowledge on this?
 

Dan

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The evolution of Country Clubs/golf courses fascinates me. They appear that they started out as stand alone land uses and then at some point they became residential amenities, perhaps it is regional thing because I am only familiar with NC clubs and course and I don't golf so my knowledge is limited.
The Country Club of Buffalo was originally next to Delaware Park, in what is now the Park Meadow neighborhood. It moved to the far side of Northeast Buffalo in the late 1800s. Some large estates, and the Amherst Estates development (Lebrun Drive), sprung up around the relocated club. Some of those estates were subdivided in the following decades. In the 1920s, it moved to its current location in Amherst, and sold its old grounds to the City of Buffalo, for use as a public park.

In the Buffalo area at least, there was a golf boom during the 1920s. Private country clubs were popping up all over Erie County, with a heavy concentration in Amherst and Clarence. Thanks to Prohibition and the completion of the Peace Bridge, there was also a country club boom in Fort Erie, Ontario. Around the same time, the City of Buffalo converted the meadows in some of its parks to golf courses. There were plans for even more clubs, including a planned fly-in 72-hole megaclub in Fort Erie, but the Depression put an end to the boom. All of the country clubs were freestanding, but there were plans for a Radburn-like golf course community where the Audubon Golf Course is now.

There's only a few of golf course communities in the Buffalo area -- Ransom Oaks and River Oaks, built in the late 1960s, and Brierwood, built in the 1950s (standalone, but with some residential development added in the 1990s). Their courses are something of a hybrid between a standalone golf course and Florida-style links that wind their way through a neighborhood. There's the occasional afterthought subdivision in the middle of a course. Otherwise, most courses are freestanding.

The Buffalo area has a lot of golf courses compared to peer cities, and closures are almost unheard of -- just Westwood Country Club, a historically Jewish club in Amherst. Some new courses opened during the Great Recession, all standalone facilities. buffalogolfer.com counts 39 public courses and 24 private courses on the American side alone.

In the Cleveland area, there have been a slew of country club mergers and closures in the formerly "old money" eastern suburbs. Oakwood Country Club in South Euclid (one of the legacy Jewish clubs) became the site of a power center. Acacia Country Club in Lyndhurst, which sat on prime real estate across from a lifestyle center and upscale superregional mall, is now a nature preserve.
 

Maister

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The evolution of Country Clubs/golf courses fascinates me. They appear that they started out as stand alone land uses and then at some point they became residential amenities, perhaps it is regional thing because I am only familiar with NC clubs and course and I don't golf so my knowledge is limited.

What's cyburbia's thoughts/knowledge on this?
I can't find it, but we had a thread about clubs/country clubs here at least once before. Anywho, from a sociological perspective, the evolution and propagation of the country club as an institution in this country is interesting. Private clubs can be traced back to Europe centuries ago, and traditionally were premised on the idea of exclusivity. Membership to a club was directly tied to the concept of social class, and to belong to a certain club carried with it a certain prestige, as one had first to be accepted as a member by the club (who were of the same class). Fast forward a few centuries to North America, and that same human impulse and desire for social inclusion and/or prestige still exists. The US, however, did not have the same class systems, not having any formal 'aristocracy,' so class was/is defined in other ways. Early country clubs in in the US catered almost entirely to the wealthy, and were ostensibly all about serving as venues for entertainment and leisure time. During the 20th century, however, they emerged as a means for the burgeoning middle class to ascend socially (think of how Darren on 'Bewitched' courted his boss' attention at the club so he could rise up through the ranks of the marketing firm he worked for, if you're looking for a good caricature of this practice). Particularly after WW2, we see a boom in the development of country clubs, as they began to spring up in suburban areas around virtually every mid level or larger sized city in the country. The overall effect of this huge growth has been to dilute the social benefits, as the idea of 'exclusivity' declined in direct proportion to their popularity and ease of access (think of hourly rated UAW members getting memberships to country clubs in the ring suburbs around Detroit). The growth of other entertainment alternatives has also led to the decline of country clubs. Sorry for the ramble, but those are some thoughts on the topic.
 
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Dan

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The overall effect of this huge growth has been to dilute the social benefits, as the idea of 'exclusivity' declined in direct proportion to their popularity and ease of access (think of hourly rated UAW members getting memberships to country clubs in the ring suburbs around Detroit).
I don't know if it's still common, but at one time, large employers once offered country club memberships, sometimes at country clubs they owned, as perks for high level employees. Country clubs were the equivalent of gourmet cafeterias and nap rooms for tech workers today. Brierwood Country Club (which I mentioned above) used to be the Bethlehem Steel Management Club.
 

Dan

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Here's the polar opposite of those South African streetscapes -- Avian Way in Lancaster, New York. Googledrive it, and you'll see ...

- Sidewalks, and people using them.

- No front yard fences or walls, and very few fenced rear yards.

- Lots of garage doors that are wide open.

Some traditions of Buffalo's eastern suburbs endure in the move-up subdivisions. There's a lot of Polish porches on Apple Blossom Way.

Buffalo's second ring eastern suburbs (Lancaster, Elma) are middle to upper middle class, but culturally "old Buffalo" - very blue collar. For all you Michigan people, think Macomb Township. You won't see the same kind of upscale restaurants or stores that are common in Amherst or Clarence; Wegmans and Target is as good as it gets.

Changing topics for a bit ...

Thinking about what Maister said, I'm going to speculate the main reason why Cleveland had so many golf course closures in recent years, but Buffalo's courses remain busy, is that Cleveland has more large corporate headquarters, while Buffalo has more small businesses and back offices.

The one-two whammy of the IRS dropping tax deductions for CC memberships as a business expense, and the fallout of the Great Recession, would impact clubs in Cleveland more so than in Buffalo. I knew people in Cleveland who were full members of several country clubs, along with hunt clubs and downtown social clubs, even though all those clubs had reciprocity with each other. If you belong to Shaker, Mayfield, Canterbury, Beechmont, and Pepper Pike, and the value of your stock options drops in half, you might have to perform a bit of triage on your social life. It's not just the membership fees, but also the assessments and minimum food and beverage costs.

Buffalo was pretty much untouched by the Great Recession, and the member rolls at area country clubs weren't artificially inflated from upper management types. In Buffalo, there's old money Buffalo Country Club people, and old money Park Country Club people. Same thing with the social clubs -- Buffalo Club or Saturn Club, but seldom both.
 

kjel

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I've always loved this little neighborhood called Halcyon Park in Bloomfield, NJ. It's a planned neighborhood ca. 1895 that's thought to be a middle class counterpoint to the tonier Llewellyn Park in West Orange, NJ (no street views). Thomas Edison used to live there.
 
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Maister

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Planit

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mendelman

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I'm curious - how long did it take you to identify those six Karen examples?
They're all within the same area of Hudson's downtown. The Google car timed itself perfectly...as their algorithm instructed them.

Knowing Hudson as I do...Dan's math is correct.
I won't be heading to Hudson, Ohio. Lord help the city staff there!
The PD there is my immediate predecessor at my job. He lives there too, so I presume he likes it.
 

mendelman

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Important Hudson, OH socioeconomic statistic:

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $112,740, and the median income for a family was $128,727
 

terraplnr

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I don't know if the urbanist crowd would love this or hate this. It's new affordable housing. Streets are narrow, setbacks short, and density high. Units look like they have about 600 '2 GLA. Utilities aren't buried, which lends some "authenticity" to the development. However, it's all single family. It would also invalid their belief "all the houses in American suburbs look the same, man."
This reminds me of a new-ish project here, a pre-fab rental housing development that replaced a mobile home park. I don't know all the details, but since it was designed as "affordable" rentals to replace the mobile home park, the State HCD retained permitting authority. So, this scene greets visitors coming from the south, and every time I drive past it I think of the air quality impacts to the residents from living literally next to the freeway.
 
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Doohickie

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I don't know if the urbanist crowd would love this or hate this.
It's basically a detached apartment complex. Or alternately, a not mobile home park.

So basically, this development is quite vulnerable to air attack. Although, I suppose at least one of the armed tactical teams might have access to a shoulder fired SAM. Seems a reasonable precaution in any case.
Susceptible to a drone strike.

South Korea
And yet, when I went to Korea on business, I was shocked that in the city center (Chinju, near the south coast), there were hundreds of free range children roaming around, including a group of middle schoolers that went out of their way to talk to me to practice their English.
 
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mendelman

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luckless pedestrian

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Dan

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From Googledriving around Pittsburgh and its suburbs, the area looks a lot poorer than I'd expect. So many run down rowhouses, dying mill towns, and mid-century suburbs that look like they've seen much better days. I've visited Pittsburgh several times, and I enjoyed it, but it seemed to have more than its share of suburbs that are in really rough shape. Maybe I need to spend more time there.

Here's a typical lower middle class suburban streetscape outside of Buffalo. Curbs, sidewalks, well-maintained houses from the 1950s, concrete driveways, neat lawns, overhead wired utilities along rear property lines.

Lackawanna is about as close to a Pennsylvania-style mill town as you'll get in the Buffalo area. It's still reeling from the loss of Bethlehem Steel in 1982 Here's a street that's a block away from the old mill. Here's a scene from Lackawanna's First Ward, which many consider to be its "ghetto". The First Ward has some urban prairie, but there's some scattererd infill, and an influx of immigrants from Yemen. Otherwise, residential areas in Lackawanna look almost identical to those in Cheektowaga.

North Versailles is a lower middle class suburb of Pittsburgh. Googledriving it, residential streetscapes look a lot "messier" than what you'd see in peer communities suburban Buffalo, Cleveland, or Detroit. No curbs or sidewalks, lots of gravel driveways, and a web of overhead utilities everywhere. This is about as neat as it gets.

I'm just guessing at this, but looking at the residential development pattern in the Pittsburgh area, it seems like there was a lot of speculative subdivision before 1930. I'm basing this on the huge amount of scattered suburban subdivisions with rectangular grids that totally disregard topography or compass direction, and the low level of improvements (curbless streets, overhead wired utilities even where blocks have alleys, spotty or no sidewalks, and "paper streets" of ruts or crumbling pavement. Googledriving in those areas, there's often a mix of housing from the 1910s or 1920s to the 1970s, with double and vacant lots being very common. Cleveland and Buffalo also had more than their share of premature subdivisions, but streets in those areas tend to have a higher level of improvements.
 

Doohickie

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North Versailles is a lower middle class suburb of Pittsburgh. Googledriving it, residential streetscapes look a lot "messier" than what you'd see in peer communities suburban Buffalo, Cleveland, or Detroit. No curbs or sidewalks, lots of gravel driveways, and a web of overhead utilities everywhere. This is about as neat as it gets.

I'm just guessing at this, but looking at the residential development pattern in the Pittsburgh area, it seems like there was a lot of speculative subdivision before 1930. I'm basing this on the huge amount of scattered suburban subdivisions with rectangular grids that totally disregard topography
To be fair, the topography of Pittsburgh is much, much more irregular (hilly) than any of the Great Lakes cities you mention. It's easy to deal with topography when there is none (i.e., you're in the flood plane of the lake which is more or less flat).
 
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