In the wake of the bridge closure, The City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has put aside funding for street beautification projects along South Park’s business district on 14th Ave South, as well as a marketing plan for the neighborhood and money for community events.

City beautification projects began during the rise of urban planning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as cities were growing and expanding. However, the rise of the new American city brought crowding, crime, poverty and urban blight. Middle and upper class city dwellers moved to the suburbs as tenements rose and city centers became  dangerous, unsanitary and largely unlivable. Early efforts to revitalize and beautify the cities came largely from the folks who left them – people who wanted to restore the pride of their cities.

“Generally stated, the City Beautiful advocates sought to improve their city through beautification, which would have a number of effects: 1) social ills would be swept away, as the beauty of the city would inspire civic loyalty and moral rectitude in the impoverished; 2) American cities would be brought to cultural parity with their European competitors through the use of the European Beaux-Arts idiom; and 3) a more inviting city center still would not bring the upper classes back to live, but certainly to work and spend money in the urban areas.” (source)

Although original efforts may not have been made with the intent to help lift people out of poverty, it was believed that a beautiful city would lead to a “harmonious social order.” The movement had its first major success in Washington D.C. (and culminated with  the National Mall and Union Station) and spread to other cities like Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and many others.

And now, South Park.  In recent years, crime has decreased and the streets are cleaner and safer.  New businesses have started lining 14th Avenue. But how will this forward momentum be maintained now that the bridge is gone?

Today, common city beautification projects include preventing and removing graffiti, creating community gardens, planting trees, building parks and greenspaces, litter and illegal dump cleanups and enhancing public spaces (source). How do you think these types of efforts will affect South Park? Besides the obvious answer (new bridge!), how can the community keep growing and thriving? Add your input here or email to get involved in beautification projects in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood News, South Park

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