Saturday, April 14, 2012
Recently, I took a trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to visit some friends of mine. To help me get a better sense of the area, they took me on a drive through some of the depressed towns of Alleghany County, including Braddock and Wilkinsburg, where there has been a severe population decline since the steel mills in the area starting closing. I was particularly intrigued by Braddock, when I realized it was the same town that had received a lot publicity after Levis decided to do an ad campaign in Braddock and invest in the town. I remembered reading this New York Times article last year. Above is one of a number of short documentary films that Levis produced, highlighting the people who are living and working in Braddock now, and the change they hope to bring to the nearly abandoned town.
From an environmental and practical perspective, it seems that maybe it would be best just to demolish Braddock totally and move its remaining residents else where, letting nature reclaim the land. On the other hand, when I look at everything that's happening in Braddock, it makes me think of what an amazing opportunity the town has to reinvent itself and begin again. How often does that situation present itself? Rarely. Here is a town that could employ sustainable practices in development and living, while preserving history. The Braddock Carnegie library is particularly stunning and holds great historical significance. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this struggling town.