Monday, 15 March 2010

Under Construction... Work in Progress

Manchester is a city undergoing extensive regeneration, sometimes worthwhile and necessary ... sometimes dubious and unnecessary... The desire to cram everyone into small spaces near their work, to go for newly created ideals that have no bearing on reality and where 'community facilities' means the chain restaurant, or to assign a totally unrealistic name in the belief the area metamorphoses into its designation. The Green Quarter is not and never will be green other than the colouring on a map designating the area: even the Northern Quarter is not 'North'.

So massive construction, compulsory purchases, tearing down whole streets, development grants, development agencies and groups with the consequential short term or failing businesses as easy access is temporarily denied while work is in progress.

Sometimes though the reconstruction is delightful, the new sympathetically blends with the old, features are retained and history does not become a casualty of progress.

Thankfully the super casino and Las Vegas style quarter for Manchester has been rejected. But why do some in power see the need to advertise for organised crime to have a major stake in the city? Oh the lessons from Las Vegas and Atlantic City have been learnt and would not happen here; neither would the by-products that came with the criminal environment? So to those who wanted this why not have a cheap alcohol city, a cheap tobacco city, a cheap drugs city, a prostitution city ~ perhaps near you ~ as it would help your local economy, improve job prospects and tourism would benefit.

In the 1960s I lived in Portsmouth, about 300 meters from the city centre with WW2 bomb damage and bomb sites all around. Compared with other cities that suffered in the war Portsmouth was left out of the party. Back to back housing was being cleared and signs of ‘Gas Out’ and ‘Elec Out’ painted on derelict houses were common place as horizontal poor housing was replaced by vertical poor housing. Communities went and wind funnels came in, Gog and Magog, the names given to the pile drivers involved in the construction work were relentless. By the 70s much of the work had been completed, hopefully by 2020 it will have been taken down and something better put in its place.

Even our house is under reconstruction as we have had walls taken down, new walls built, plastering, plumbing and central heating sorted out, electricity to be brought up to modern standards, drains installed and then the decoration…

So having ranted here are images from Manchester’s reconstruction. For more images check out Carmi’s blog for Thematic Photographic 92 – Under Construction.

1 comment:

  1. I keep hoping that the lessons of 60s and 70s-era "urban renewal" have been learned - and banished to the dustbin of history. I grew up in a city, Montreal, that lost huge chunks of what made it special when vast swaths of historic neighborhoods were razed in the name of so-called progress.

    These days, many of the blighted structures that rose then are in the process of being torn down. A new urbanism is taking form, and I hope that both Montreal and Manchester - and other great cities - find new life.