The changing profile of urban density in Minneapolis

The high-density high-rises metastasizing throughout the city bring us New Urban Cave Dwellings (NUCD), reminiscent of older cliff dwellings. Those caves had one functional entrance, no windows on top or at sides — just like the vast majority of the dwelling units in these high-rises.

One difference — a true cave combines the “window” and functional entrance, whereas the NUCD splits this into a functional entrance sans window and a window sans functional entrance. Welcome to this futuristic vision of city “living” brought to us by the Lego School of Architecture and its relentless style, Grim Moderne, that stacks high-rises side-by-side to eventually evolve into a canyon-like streetscape. Therein, the denizens enjoy the good life offered by a NUCD. Our 21st-century city will eventually belong substantially to the NUCD heads.

Minneapolis, in 1970, had more than 500,000 people, small-scale affordable housing for the vast majority of them (no high-rise dwellings), along with a thriving school system. All that contrasts dramatically with today. The NUCD heads bring money (therefore developers) and numbers (voters) to eventually drive out all who resist their vision.

People deserve the politicians they elect — the new masters of the “Fauxto Op” and “web bites” styles of politics — who relentlessly seek to carry out this NUCD restructuring of city neighborhoods. At the end of the day, simply count up how many units of affordable housing they have created versus the number of up-market units, and be chagrined that you fell for their spiel. We had the solution to this issue at hand in 1970 and we tossed it overboard. Hear the voice of a distressed citizen of Marcy-Holmes, an increasingly “nuked” neighborhood.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Max Hailperin on 02/01/2018 - 10:22 am.

    Alternative history

    Kepner tells us that “Minneapolis, in 1970, had more than 500,000 people, small-scale affordable housing for the vast majority of them (no high-rise dwellings), along with a thriving school system. All that contrasts dramatically with today.”

    It also contrasts with the reality of 1970. The US Census Bureau tells us that the city’s 1970 population was 434,400. Admittedly, that isn’t *much* less than 500,000, but it definitely isn’t *more* than 500,000, as Kepner would have us believe. The idea that affordable housing was then provided without the use of high-rise dwellings is also off the mark. To cite one example, the 17-story Lowry Towers were constructed between 1967 and 1969. And as to how thriving the Minneapolis school system then was, that depends on one’s perspective. The year 1970 was when the district began voluntary desegregation, an effort retarded by some vocal opposition, such that a federal lawsuit was necessary in 1971, leading to a desegregation order in 1972.

  2. Submitted by Adam Miller on 02/01/2018 - 10:26 am.

    Yes, we had it worked out before roughly 1970

    Back then, we let single family homes be replaced with rowhouses, duplexes and triplexes. And we let duplexes and triplexes be replaced with small apartment buildings. And we let small apartment buildings be replaced by medium sized apartment buildings. We even allowed the occasional high rise.

    Then we downzoned everything and said you can only add density in big chunks in a few places. And here we are.

    • Submitted by Jeff Christenson on 02/01/2018 - 10:54 am.

      Also . . .

      We had much larger households. A starter home that houses two people today probably held a family of five or six back then. The average household size is shrinking over time (makes sense given that boomers are empty-nesters and younger people aren’t reproducing as fast), so it makes perfect sense to build housing that’s sensitive to median household size.

      • Submitted by Max Hailperin on 02/01/2018 - 12:39 pm.

        The story behind the numbers may be different

        I agree that the average household size has shrunk quite a bit since 1970 and that this ought to affect the mix of dwellings. However, regarding your parenthetical explanation of the declining average, I’m not convinced you are right about the role of empty-nest boomers. I haven’t looked at local numbers, but at least nationally the big change in average household size was in the 1970s, with a much slower decline since then.

  3. Submitted by Richard Adair on 02/01/2018 - 02:13 pm.

    Why we need density

    It’s “all hands on deck” to combat the largest threat our species has ever faced. Any reasonable response to global warming means changing how we live and get around. Density and transit have to be part of it.

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