The construction of the, laying a concrete slab on top of lively, bustling Third Avenue, buried the avenue in shadow, and when the parkway was completed, the avenue was cast forever into darkness and gloom, and its bustle and life were forever gone. depopulation by suburbanization of peripheral lands, real estate neighborhood , and immigration restrictions.Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival
"The 1965 law brought an end to the lengthy and destructive—at least for cities—period of tightly restricted immigration a spell born of theand of the 1920s", p. 140
HistoryDuring the , from the late eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century, rural people moved from the country to the cities for employment in manufacturing industry, thus causing the urban population boom. However, subsequent economic change left many cities economically vulnerable. Studies such as the Urban Task Force (DETR 1999), the Urban White Paper (DETR 2000), and a study of Scottish cities (2003) posit that areas suffering industrial decline—high unemployment, poverty, and a decaying physical environment (sometimes including contaminated land and obsolete infrastructure)—prove "highly resistant to improvement". Changes in means of transport, from the public to the private—specifically, the private motor car—eliminated some of the cities' public transport service advantages, e.g., fixed-route buses and trains. In particular, at the end of , many political decisions favored suburban development and encouraged suburbanization, by drawing city taxes from the cities to build new infrastructure for towns. The manufacturing sector has been a base for the prosperity of major cities. When the industries have relocated outside of cities, some have experienced population loss with associated urban decay, and even . Cut backs on police and fire services may result, while lobbying for government funded housing may increase. Increased city taxes encourage residents to move out.
Rent controls are often enacted due to public pressure and complaints regarding the . Proponents of rent controls argue that rent controls combat inflation, stabilize the economic characteristics of a city's population, prevent rent gouging, and improve the quality of housing. Economists have documented that rent control affects the supply and demand relationship in housing markets which can contribute to urban blight and does not provide the benefits its proponents advocate. Rent control contributes to urban blight by reducing new construction and investment in housing and deincentivizing maintenance. If a landlord's costs to perform maintenance consume too large a proportion of profit, that is revenue minus costs, from rent, the landlord will feel pressure to drastically reduce or eliminate maintenance entirely. This effect has been observed in New York City, a 2009 study by a lobbying firm found 29% of rent-controlled buildings were categorized as either deteriorated or dilapidated in contrast with 8% of non-rent-controlled housing.
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United KingdomLike many industrial nations before the Second World War, the United Kingdom carried out extensive slum clearances. These efforts continued after the war, however in many of these slums, depopulation became common, producing compounding decay. The UK is unlike much of Europe in having high overall population density, but low urban population density outside of London. In London, many former slum neighbourhoods like in Islington became "highly prized" however this was the exception to the rule, and much of the north of England remains deprived. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the 1980s and 90s undertook extensive studies culminating with a 1991 report which analysed the 20 most difficult council estates. Many of the most unpopular estates were in , , , , the , and Liverpool, their unpopularity driven by a variety of causes from the loss of key industries, , and . Population decline in particular was noted to be faster in inner city areas than in outer ones, however a decline was noted throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s in both inner and outer city areas. Jobs declined between 1984 and 1991 (a decline observed particularly among men), while outer areas saw job growth (particularly among women). The UK also saw urban areas become more ethnically diverse, however urban decline was not limited to areas which saw population changes. Manchester in 1991 had a non white population 7.5% higher than the national average, but Newcastle had a 1% smaller non white population. Features of British urban decay analysed by the Foundation included empty houses; widespread demolitions; declining property values; and low demand for all property types, neighbourhoods, and tenures. Urban decay has been found by the Foundation to be "more extreme and therefore more visible" in the north of the United Kingdom. They note this trend of northern decline has been observed not just in the United Kingdom but also in much of Europe. Some towns have also experienced urban decay towards the end of the 20th century. The UK's period of urban decay was exemplified by ' 1981 hit single " ".
FranceLarge French cities are often surrounded by areas of urban decay. While city centers tend to be occupied mainly by residents, cities are often surrounded by public housing developments, with many tenants being of North African origin (from , and ), and recent . From the 1950s to the 1970s, publicly funded housing projects resulted in large areas of mid to high-rise buildings. These modern "grands ensembles" were welcomed at the time, as they replaced shanty towns and raised living standards, but these areas were heavily affected by economic depression in the 1980s. The banlieues of large cities like , especially the northern Parisian banlieues, are severely criticized and forgotten by the country's territorial spatial planning administration. They have been ostracised ever since the French government of 1871, considered as "lawless" or "outside the law", even "outside the Republic", as opposed to "deep France" or "authentic France", which is associated with the countryside. In November 2005, the French suburbs sparked by the accidental electrocution of two teenagers in the northern suburbs of Paris, and fueled in part by the substandard living conditions in these areas. Many deprived suburbs of French cities were suddenly the scenes of clashes between youngsters and the police, with violence and numerous car burnings resulting in huge media coverage. Today the situation remains generally unchanged; however, there is a level of disparity. Some areas are experiencing increased drug trafficking, while some northern suburbs of Paris and areas like are undergoing refurbishment and re-development. Some previously mono-industrial towns in France are experiencing increasing crime, decay, and decreasing population. The issue remains a divisive issue in French public politics.
ItalyIn Italy, one of the most well known case of urban decay is represented by the ''Vele di Scampia'', a large public housing estate built between 1962 and 1975 in the neighbourhood of . The idea behind the project was to provide a huge urban housing project, where hundreds of families could socialise and create a community. The design included a public transportation rail station, and a large park area between the two buildings. The planners wanted to create a small city model with large parks, playing fields, and other facilities. However, various events led to tremendous urban decay inside this project and in the surrounding areas. It all started with the 1980 earthquake in , which led many families, left homeless, to squat the flats inside the ''Vele''. Things were made worse by the total lack of police presence, resulting in a deep bundling of the inside the area, which now controls drug trafficking, illegal , gangs, and fencing operations.
South AfricaIn South Africa, the most prominent urban decay case is , an inner city neighborhood of . A formerly affluent neighborhood, at the end of in 1994 many middle-class white residents moved out, and were replaced by mainly low-income workers and unemployed people, including many refugees and illegal immigrants from neighboring countries. Many businesses that operated in the area followed their customers to the suburbs, and some apartment buildings were "hi-jacked" by gangs who collected rentals from residents but failed to pay the utility bills, leading to termination of municipal services and a refusal by the legal owners to invest in maintenance or cleaning. Occupied today by low-income residents and immigrants, and heavily over-crowded, the proliferation of crime, drugs, illegal businesses and decay of properties became prevalent.
GermanyMany east German towns such as face or are facing significant population loss and urban shrinkage since the reunification of Germany. Hoyerswerda's population has dropped about 40% since its peak and there is a significant lack of teenagers and twenty-somethings due to the declining birthrates during the uncertainty of reunification. Part of the blight in east Germany is due to the construction and preservation practices of the socialist government under the (GDR). To fill the housing needs, the GDR quickly built many prefabricated apartment buildings. In addition, historic preservation of pre-war buildings varied; in some cases, the rubble of buildings destroyed by the war were simply left there while in other cases the debris was removed and an empty lot remained. Other standing historical structures were left to decay in the early GDR as they did not represent the socialist ideals of the country.
Policy responses to urban decayThe main responses to urban decay have been through positive public intervention and policy, through a plethora of initiatives, funding streams, and agencies, using the principles of (or through , its UK/European equivalent). has also had a significant effect, and remains the primary means of a natural remedy.
United StatesIn the United States, early government policies included " " and building of large-scale for the poor. demolished entire neighborhoods in many inner cities; in many ways, it was a cause of urban decay rather than a remedy. These government efforts are now thought by many to have been misguided. For multiple reasons including increased demand for urban amenities, some cities have rebounded from these policy mistakes. Meanwhile, some of the inner suburbs built in the 1950s and 60s are beginning the process of decay, as those who are living in the inner city are pushed out due to .
EuropeIn Western Europe, where undeveloped land is scarce and urban areas are generally recognised as the drivers of the new and service economy, service economies, has become an industry in itself, with hundreds of agencies and charities set up to tackle the issue. European cities have the benefit of historical organic development patterns already concurrent to the New Urbanist model, and although derelict, most cities have attractive historical quarters and buildings ripe for redevelopment. In the inner-city estates and suburban cités, the solution is often more drastic, with 1960s and 70s state housing projects being totally demolished and rebuilt in a more traditional European urban style, with a mix of housing types, sizes, prices, and tenures, as well as a mix of other uses such as retail or commercial. One of the best examples of this is in Hulme, Manchester, which was cleared of 19th-century housing in the 1950s to make way for a large estate of high-rise flats. During the 1990s, it was cleared again to make way for new development built along new urbanist lines.
See alsoGeneral: * Black flight * Brownfield * Dead mall * Deindustrialization * Counterurbanization, Deurbanization * , the reverse process *Fenceline community * Food desert * Ghetto tax * Ghost town * Greyfield land, Greyfield * Land recycling * Modern ruins * Municipal disinvestment * Redlining * Rural flight, the country counterpart * Shrinking cities * Slum clearance * Spatial mismatch, mismatch between job location and residence * Retail apocalypse * Ruins photography, Ruin porn * Urban prairie * Urbicide * White flight Specific: * Urban economics * Urban planning * Urban theory