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"No Places"

Super Amputee Cat

Note: I previously posted this thread in the old forum back in May, 2000 - during the last days before the first switchover. I thought some of the newer forum members may wish to read it and respond:

As planners, I'm sure you've heard of the term "No Places": Those postwar suburban automobile-centered "new towns" that have sprung up along the edges of cities that have absolutely no soul whatsoever. Or they may be formerly quaint small towns that have mushroomed in population over the past 30 years, resulting in a no longer a discernable downtown. Instead the "downtown" is regulated to the collector roads and highway interchanges, where residents probably never stepped inside a building built before 1950 (and are proud of it!)
Besides obvious places like Tyson's Corner, Virginia and Plano, Texas, please post your favorite "no place" in America. I'm sure you know of some soulless burg that completely lacks a traditional town center, and has more cul-de-sacs than trees. A noplace where corner stores and ma and pa hardware stores have been bulldozed into oblivion and replaced by Starbucks and Home Depot.

My candidate? Orland Park, Illinois, on the outskirts of Chicago. In 1950 this town had a population of on 788. Now its probably over 50,000. There is no downtown and the last of the old farmhouses were torn down in the late 1980s, replaced by subdivision after subdivision of cookie cutter, pop-and-fresh, jive plastic tract houses whose pretentiousness is exceeded only by the glaring absence of even the most fundamental aspects of good town planning. It is a classic example of "creeping crud" development: Haphazard mixes of big box stores, strip malls and "phony colonie" architecture all rubber stamped for approval by some brain-dead developer-shmoozing planning or zoning board. Traffic is an absolute nightmare: A snarled, teeth gnashing mess of overburdened one lane section roads clogged with SUVs, where the number of curb cuts is exceeded by only the number of potholes. Or 50' wide barren and treeless residential streets - with yuppiefied names like Sea Biscuit Court - where cars speed along at 40 M. P.H. or more

There is nothing worthwhile for kids to do in Orland Park, and as a result you can pretty much write them off by their 20s. The idealistic ones got out in time, but those left behind are doomed to live the pathetic life of their parents. (Subjecting any child to live in the intellectual decay and hopelessness of places like Orland Park - and parade it around as the "be all end all" of their morally bankrupt existence is one of the most heinous acts a parent can do to a child).

I could go on and on about how absolutely rotten Orland Park is, for there are few places in the world as detestable. In America, I know of no place that is closer to hell on earth. But maybe you've seen worse. So lets hear about all those "no places." Hopefully, we'll have some informative responses and have a detailed list compiled of places for good planners to avoid.



I have mixed opinions about these "No-Places." On the one hand, I became a planner because my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, turned its back on its traditional core and created a traffic-clogged half-industrial, half-commercial nightmare called "Coliseum Boulevard." Imagine, if you will, eight-ten lanes of unlandscaped arterial road, with heavy duty power distribution lines overhead, no landscaping, no real sign regulations, and U.S. Highway system through traffic. Coliseum Boulevard serves as both "downtown" and as a through road for heavy truck traffic and industrial users. With the decline of industry and a new bypass highway, the traffic is less a problem, but the ugliness of it remains. Ugly, boy oh boy, it is ugly.

BUT, the fact is, the marketplace rules, and suburban hells seem to meet the needs of most people. Its just easier to live the car-centered lifestyle-or was, before traffic became a limiting factor. Face it, in most cities that rely with no subway systems or trains, buses suck. Living crammed in small tenements sucks, particularly if you have a family. Big boxes sell lots of stuff cheaply, and most people don't care about the side costs of slave labor in China and environmental destruction.

As much as I dislike admitting it, suburbia is what most people want.

The only "hope" is that suburbia contains the root of its own destruction. When there are thirty miles of strip malls and subdivisions, you can't pretend its "the country" anymore. When traffic is so bad it takes an hour to drive anywhere-and where new freeways can't be sited because of NIMBYism or the sheer lack of space, alternatives will be considered.

It is a suburb of BUffalo that is larger in land area than the city of Buffalo. It has about 200,000 residents. It also has no chracter at all. It creates new buildings a record pace, but leaves many more vacant after a mere few years of use. It is common for a company on Niagara Falls Boulevard to move into a bigger site further down the road and let the old site stand vacant.

Amherst has a larger percentage of empty retail/office space than Buffalo, about 26% of Amherst's offices are vacant, yet they still tear down more of thier forest/swamp to build office parks.

Amherst is possibly the best/worst example of urban sprawl. Entire neighborhoods vacate when one black person arrives.

Quick anecdote:
My mother was busy setting up an estate sale in amherst when a neighbor walked in to welcome her to the neighborhood, my mother began to explain that she wasnt moving in and the woman responded "we don't need any of coloreds here, if they another comes, well, I'll have to move out"

If a black person buys the 140,000 home it most likely means he is white color man of above average means, not some gun-toting street rat.

Amherst also boasts one of the drug use rates for teens in the area, probably because until they get a drivers license they have nowhere to go and nothing to do.

In conclusion amherst is my example of terrible planning and sprawl, and it just keep getting worse every day.


Cyburbian Plus
Well living neear Tysons Corner I tend to agree but for one small problem-its not a town, its just a built up area of the County of Fairfax.

Another area is many of the edge cities around Atlanta, gross places to live and visit.