economy

‘Collapse’ Art: De-Urbanization Reimagined

One might fairly question some of the more dire predictions about the extent to which the pandemic will prompt a sustained de-urbanization impulse that leaves America's cities in a state of dystopian disarray. I wrote about dystopian disarray in America's urban centers (and my place in such a reality) earlier this year, in a trio of lengthy pandemic posts. Given the public's piqued interest in what some have hyperbolically described as an "urban exodus", I'll briefly revisit a well-received piece from April, before touching on a few new data points that speak to de-urbanization, and then reimagining the future. From April 25, 2020 On a blinding Saturday morning, while squinting unhappily at a too-big pile of mail through a pair of Helmut Lang aviators on the back deck, the cover of the April 13 edition of The New Yorker stuck out. It's a piece by Pascal Campion called "Lifeline." In it, a worker delivering something essential (food, probably) stands under a lighted awning amid towering high-rises and rings the buzzer. Just a few feet away, his bicycle rests precariously against a light pole. It's raining. It's dark. The streets are deserted. The visual is, to quote Fran
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

6 comments on “‘Collapse’ Art: De-Urbanization Reimagined

  1. joesailboat says:

    Here Long Island N.Y.,an hour train NYC, it was beginning to happen pre-pandemic as all the young who came to Brooklyn and Queens after the financial crisis were having 2nd children. Bearded Dads with babycariages weekdays were becoming normal just a recent few years back. Second homes are becoming primary for the affluent, but that happened after 9/11 also.
    That photo that went along with the original article struck me as pure Hopper. Funny that I recall the photographer at the time mentioning how the bicyclist’s entree to the scene nailed it for him. Now it would appear that the photographer wishes us to understand differently.

  2. I live in downtown Seattle. The virus has changed the landscape and some of that is likely to be permanent. The main Amazon campus is within walking distance and the place is relatively deserted as most workers continue to work from home. I expect the demand for office space will decline substantially in the future and many restaurants and bars will be permanently closed. Downtown condos are not selling, mostly because the amenities of living in the city have disappeared……..not because of anarchy or riots.
    The only reason I would leave Seattle is if I thought the music, theater and arts weren’t going to return.
    The decline in traffic congestion works for me…..now I just want a couple of blues and jazz clubs to re-open.

  3. mfn says:

    According to the Boston Globe, 3,600 of the 16,000 restaurants that were open for business on March 1 — 23 percent — have not reopened, and the outlook going forward is not bright: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/12/lifestyle/so-many-boston-restaurants-have-closed-its-just-tip-iceberg/

  4. Emptynester says:

    I remain unsure if the 5.4% increase In the CPI index for used auto sales (YOY) is indicative of significant inflation. This increase is offset by lower interest income earned on the auto loan.
    The interest rate on auto loans went from 4.63% (Aug, 2019) to 4.25% ( Aug, 2020)- a decrease of 8.2%. (I pulled auto loan interest rates from statistica.com)

  5. JimmyBoy says:

    I’ve be ensconced in a relative’s comfy basement out in the Midwest for the past 7 weeks. I don’t really look forward to returning to my apartment in NYC in October, as planned, where my dwelling will have 1/10 the space and the city will lack most of its usual perks (a lack of theater depresses me especially). Any room on your couch, Heisenberg? I wouldn’t mind a paradise right now. 🙂

  6. As others have mentioned, this trend (like many Covid fueled trends) had started prior to the virus’s arrival, which turbocharged the de-urbanization phenomenon. Overcrowding, cost of living, nightmarish commutes and poor services drove me out of metropolis life in LA and into a small east coast beach town two years before the pandemic. I did not factor a deadly virus into my decision to leave urban life behind, but when you add “pandemic” to the list of ailments in city living it is no surprise we are witnessing a form of exodus. As H indicates, some smaller urban centers seem to benefit from this exodus as larger cities dwindle, there might be a positive coming out of this re-distribution of (presumably) well educated population to other areas, including more “rural” settlements. Time will tell, assuming we can survive the next 4 years.

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.