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Leave it alone?

Urban renewal has been a hot topic for decades, with many cities undergoing transformations aimed at revitalizing their downtown areas. While some residents may see these changes as gentrification, in reality, they often bring significant benefits to the community as a whole. In this post, we'll explore the progress that has been made in urban renewal, and why it is a positive force for change.

One of the most striking examples of successful urban renewal is the transformation of New York City's Times Square. Once known for its seedy reputation, Times Square is now a bustling commercial and tourist hub that attracts millions of visitors every year. This transformation was achieved through a combination of public and private investment, which included the construction of new office and retail spaces, as well as improvements to public transportation.

Similar success stories can be found in cities across the country. In Washington, DC, the U Street corridor underwent a transformation in the 1990s that preserved the area's historic character while bringing in new businesses and residents. In Pittsburgh, the redevelopment of the city's downtown area has led to a boom in property values and the revitalization of the city's cultural institutions.

While some residents may view these changes as gentrification, it's important to understand that urban renewal brings significant benefits to the community as a whole. These benefits include better schools, lower crime rates, more affordable housing, cleaner streets, and better living conditions for all residents. In addition, urban renewal can lead to lower taxes and better city services, as the increased tax revenue generated by new development can be used to fund public projects and services.

Historically, urban renewal has been a force for progress. In the early 20th century, urban renewal efforts in cities like Chicago and New York led to the construction of public housing, which provided safe and affordable housing for low-income residents. While these efforts were not without their flaws, they represent an important example of how urban renewal can be a force for good.

In conclusion, urban renewal has brought significant benefits to cities across the country, from the revitalization of historic downtown areas to the creation of new commercial and residential spaces. While some may view these changes as gentrification, it's important to understand that rising tides lift all boats, and that urban renewal can benefit all members of a community. If done thoughtfully and with a focus on preserving the character and history of a city, urban renewal can be a positive force for change.

Examples of cities that have undergone successful urban renewal:

  • New York City, NY - Times Square

  • Washington, DC - U Street corridor

  • Pittsburgh, PA - downtown redevelopment

  • Portland, OR - Pearl District

  • Cleveland, OH - Flats East Bank


  • "The Renewal of Times Square" - New York Times

  • "Urban Renewal, Then and Now" - CityLab

  • "From Gentrification to Urban Renewal: A Brief History" - Next City

  • "The Benefits of Urban Renewal" - The Balance Small Business

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