Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Re-Imagining Cleveland

Cleveland, like many northeastern US cities, has been experiencing a steady population decline for decades. The estimated 2007 population is less than half of its 1950 population. An excellent article from the Planning Commissioners Journal highlights some interesting ideas the city's planners have for some of the empty spaces. These ideas include farms, community gardens, and restored wetlands among new commercial and residential districts. Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) has a great report entitled "Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland" that details many of these ideas. The report can be downloaded from their site, however it is a large file. There are lots of maps that if overlaid can be used to determine the best sites for the above uses. For example, here are maps of foreclosures and vacant land.

The map below on the left shows population loss in blue while the map on the right is the county's proposed"Greenprint."

The report has a nice overlay map showing different soil types to distinguish areas that are more suited to agriculture vs. areas that are better for wetland restoration. These are overlaid on top of existing parks and vacant areas (in dark brown).

Other useful overlays for these purposes are brownfields, estimated population trends and impervious surfaces. Some of these maps are from the Green City Blue Lake website while others are from the CUDC report. Below is a design concept from the report for land in areas around stream headwaters.

Population loss can be a tough pill for a city to swallow but if these ideas are carried out it could turn Cleveland into a model of a desirable urban community.


DrSchnell said...

Cool stuff!

Michael5000 said...

I don't want to be cynical, and certainly the mapwork looks pretty good, but if you took 10 people off the street and had them brainstorm for ideas about how vacant land could be used, wouldn't "farms, community gardens, and restored wetlands" be mentioned in the first 30 seconds? Kudos to Cleveland, though, for contemplating taking action on the obvious.

Dug said...

True dat. However, some other rustbelt cities like Buffalo don't want to admit they're shrinking and don't really want farms. Instead they want to keep building unoccupied housing.

fix buffalo said...


We're anticipating a very positive turn around here in Buffalo with a Common Council vote on the 'Wilson Street Urban Farm' tomorrow afternoon.

I'll post about it tomorrow on the fixBuffalo blog.