Against Demolition

Thomas de Monchaux at n+1:

This sort of loss, with its confluence of profligacy and jackassery, is a common feature of architectural history. Any speculator who demolishes Geller I to build a tennis court is assuredly some sort of villain, but the villainy is also of a system within which such actions can seem rational and normal. Even after the housing bubble and Great Recession, sometimes fantastical speculation in the material value of private houses and their half-acres of land remains the seeming consolation for the compounding economic injustices of our new Gilded Age—especially for the middle classes, for whom their dwelling place is their main financial asset. I’m reminded of Walt Whitman’s father—also a Long Island house-flipper and land speculator—remembered in There was a Child Went Forth as a master of “the blow . . . the tight bargain, the crafty lure.” The transactionality of those encounters colonized the consciousness of the poet inseparably from “the streets themselves, and the façades of the houses. . . . the goods in the windows.”

more here.