A recent Reddit post highlighted the feeling that transformation in the name of progress is often anything but progressive.
Shared to the r/ArchitecturalRevival subreddit, the post showed drastic before-and-after photos of Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, calling attention to what one user referred to as its “slash of shame,” and they further stated that every American city has one.
“Saw this picture today of the old historic downtown of Kansas City. Sad to see what happened with it,” the poster wrote above the images.
The before photo, taken in 1906 and in black and white, shows a city street lined with gorgeous architecture and people filling the sidewalks. The after picture, taken in 2015, shows presumably the same street but with no people in sight and only lamp posts, street lights, and one lonely tree populating the sidewalks. While shown in color, it is more colorless than the black-and-white photo.
“If I remember correctly, I think this area was demolished to provide room for the new interstate,” one viewer of the OP’s photos commented.
“Reminder for people: America wasn’t built for the car, it was bulldozed for the car,” a second lamented.
Both touch on the fact that walkable cities and neighborhoods have been eradicated to support our growing car culture, and it brings with it more than the loss of beautiful architecture.
Transportation is the largest contributor to planet-warming pollution in the United States, accounting for 29%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Globally, passenger cars produce around 3.2 billion tons of carbon pollution annually, with a typical car creating over 10,000 pounds of carbon pollution in a year.
Further, as the first commenter pointed out, the destruction of neighborhoods to build highways — something residents in cities such as Detroit and Houston, to name a few, have experienced firsthand — negatively affects residents, with disadvantaged populations often feeling the brunt of it.
A recent poll revealed that 69% of participants believe that promoting walking, biking, and public transportation can contribute to better community health, and doctors report it can lead to better personal health as well.
All of this considered, commenters on the post were understandably upset.
“OMG. That’s a total tragedy,” one stated sadly.
Another simply said, “That is saddening.”
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