Wednesday, May 30, 2007

They bulldozed it.

Above: Franklin and Oxford Streets in the 1950s. The other historic photo (below) shows another stretch of the long-lost Franklin Street (historic photographs courtesy of Maine Memory Network)
This photograph here is what the corner of Franklin and Oxford Streets looked like about 50 years ago, before the WASPs on the City Council noticed the Irish name on the corner store, called it a "slum," and bulldozed it all to create the hated Franklin Arterial.

Below, another photograph from the same site of another spot on the former Franklin Street. It's hard to know exactly where, since the buildings, shady elm trees, and even the sidewalks have been gone for decades. For those readers who have never been to Portland, here's what urban renewal gave us instead: a grass median full of garbage, some scrubby trees growing over the old neighborhood's rubble, and four lanes of traffic unencumbered by crosswalks or sidewalks. Here's a photo (the Franklin Towers, Portland's tallest building and a fine example of Soviet Sentimental architecture, commands a fine view of the no-man's-land):

Note how all of these "slum dwellings" in the old photos bear striking resemblance to historic homes that now sell for over $1 million in surrounding neighborhoods. Way to invest in real estate, you jingoist highway-engineering dipshits.

Here's some good news, though: my new buddy Patrick writes about schemes to repair past urban renewal idiocy with a new Franklin Boulevard in the Bollard this week: read about it here. Tomorrow at the Franklin Towers will be a "revisioning workshop" to brainstorm new ideas for the blighted pavement - perhaps I'll see you there. Finally, here's a previous post about fixing Franklin Arterial.


Patrick Ian Banks said...

I actually looked at an apartment in a building* on Franklin when I first moved to Portland a couple years ago. Had the neighborhood resembled those old photogaphs, I'd probably be living there to this day. Instead it took me all of 3 minutes to say "thanks but no-thanks." I've hated the artery ever since.

*The building is the one tucked in by the cathedral. It has to be the last remaining of the old style residences left along the whole artery. I'm amazed the planners didn't find an excuse to buldoze the place along with it's bretheren.

rollins said...

Let's hope something good comes out of the Franklin St. planning.

Ah, but to think, if there were only million dollar homes, and no affordable housing in Portland. ;)

Brown said...


Hoping for a recap of the Arterial visioning session (had to be out of town)...