Traditional Neighborhood Collapse: History, Topography, and Design in a Small City and their Implications for Sustainable Neighborhoods

By Karl Sandin.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The southeast side of the old industrial city of Newark has experienced depopulation, physical deterioration, and unsuccessful low-income housing development disproportionate to that of the rest of the city. A subsidized townhome complex at the southern edge of this area saw a reduction in occupancy over the last decade to close to ten percent, accompanied by decaying units, criminality, and marginal housing behaviors. Historical forces such as the reputation of Newark’s ‘East End’ as a hermetic, rough blue-collar district have compounded the local effects of incomplete urbanization west of the complex between 1884 and 1920, and of the marginal location of this complex next to the vacant canal bed and still-active railroad. Topography exacerbated the resulting edge vacuum by a 30’ downgrade from east Newark’s axis along East Main Street, and the insertion of massive multi-storey apartments into the traditional wood-frame fabric between East Main and the townhomes intensified devaluation and isolation. Weak design—curvilinear streets, dominant parking lots, deep set-backs, unarticulated facades and entryways, edge buildings facing away from access and so on—completed the townhomes’ unsustainable redevelopment pattern. Learning from the collapse of the townhomes and surrounding area, re-densification and exploitation of local building types, streetscapes, and planning geometries emerge as essential design components of a broader local strategy for sustainable neighborhoods.

Keywords: Landscape, Urbanism, Urban History, Urban Design, Low-Income Housing, Environmental Design, Public Health, Housing, Midwest, Multi-Family Housing, Apartments, Neighborhoods

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.125-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.221MB).

Dr. Karl Sandin

Dr. Karl Sandin teaches material culture and the built environment at the Department of Art, Denison University, Granville, Ohio, USA. He has a background in ancient, medieval, and early modern material culture and architecture and currently teaches courses in ancient and medieval art and architecture, as well as in contemporary urbanism and built environment. His research is on urban built environment in Midwestern small cities such as Newark, Ohio, and focuses on the functions of abandoned houses, design factors in neighborhood deterioration, and on homeless itineraries and survival strategies. He is a member of the Licking County Housing Initiatives working group that is responsible for the HUD Continuum of Care framework for the county, as well as the One-Night Count and Emergency Shelter subcommittees of the LCHI group.


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