Over the past week, it seems that there has been some really good op-ed pieces written. Perhaps I should just attribute these great finds to being personally ill, and partially bed ridden, forcing my brain to work through the clouds in a different direction than up. This is a way to allow myself to more properly catalog (and find later) the pieces that I find to be brilliant.

Stunning “old-school” density aerials from Cincinnati

(source: skyscraperpage.com)

Downtown Cincinnati, west of Plum (1958)

This was a wonderful find that was linked through the Urban Ohio forums. Lately, I have been nerding out over photos of various neighborhoods in Minneapolis, my future home. This, however, is a heartbreaking look at pre-freeway and pre-urban renewal Downtown Cincinnati. The worst sight, in my opinion, is the loss of boulevard-like, east-west arteries, which once extended westward beyond Central Avenue. Most Cincinnatians attune to their city’s yesteryear lament the loss of substantial portions of the West End neighborhood. I, however, long for the days when Downtown extended south of Third Street, west of Central, and east of Eggleston. The Downtown Cincinnati of today appears to be bound by a tourniquet of freeways and fly-over ramps.

Visitors of Cincinnati often cite confusion over interruption to the street grid, such as Jefferson Avenue, northward to the EPA Breidenbach Research Center, and over to Vine. However, the most drastic grid alterations resemble nothing of their original formations–namely the Queensgate district that resembles an outdated office park, surrounded by disinvested relics. I can only hope that the Cincinnati elite and decision-makers look toward the future of Downtown, considering the possibility of transit-oriented development (and the accompanying transit) west of I-75.

Explaining Socialism To A Republican (source: Addicting Info)

I am not really a fan of the title of this op-ed, as it really should be called, “Clarifying Democratic Socialism: How Democracy Can Serve without Discrimination.”

This piece has to do with providing services to all Americans, such as post-secondary education and healthcare. We all enjoy trash collection, law enforcement, and fire protection by paying taxes. Taxes, themselves, are payments we must all make, in order to make services available to all. We are not expected to put out our own fires, to patrol our own properties. But we are usually expected to have private medical consultants, or to hire educators within for-profit institutions. This piece argues for a system of shared resources. It argues that socialism does not mean “taking from the rich and giving to the poor.”

The other dimension to Addicting Info piece pertains to entitlements and bonuses awarded to corporate players. Extraneous rewards for playing the corporate game, successfully or not, makes the cost of goods and services higher. So, the low and middle income Americans must spend more of their net worth. Thus, the rich become richer, and the rest either fight to maintain their societal place or become poorer. In order to create more social and economic equity, tax revenues must be collected to pay for public services.

In the case of highways and other roads, conservatives find tax collection and government subsidies to be acceptable uses of tax money. Meanwhile, any other type of mobility is cited as a waste of tax dollars. Not everyone has an automobile, and not everyone can afford the costs of owning one. Corporations within cities are attracted to density and mobility for their employees and executives. However, in Cincinnati, powerful players within the county are an interest to stymie public options, seeking to mold Cincinnati into one that lacks equity and lacks competitive edge. The motives are fishy yet explicit. The image I provided earlier shows what discretionary preference over option and choice does over cities.

Cincinnati and other cities need to regain a fervor to regrow their places and spaces. We will do this through the reintroduction of choice and voice. The bickering is noisy. Let us hope those voices can be heard.