Soft Places
June 24, 2007 6:49 PM   Subscribe

The Brooklyn industrial waterfront? Let that one go.
posted by caddis at 7:08 PM on June 24, 2007

There is some notion here that endangered means change from something that at one time was appreciated by times, as in the waterfront instance, change is not necessarily bad. Afer all, lots of ports have changed now that globalization has altered things. San Quentin prison, no heritage for most folks, sits on land at the water and is valued at over 100 million bucks...But it is likely not to be sold off to developers. In some cases--ie, Baltimore--changes have made a place much the better.

America is a young nation and to relish the past and get mawkish about change seems a bit out of place...I for one look forward to the dismissal of the Bush heritage.
posted by Postroad at 7:13 PM on June 24, 2007

Leaving out the "historic" from the title sure changes the meaning. I clicked through expecting to find endangered wilderness areas, only to think - for a second - that Route 66 motels are more important to Americans than the Alaskan wilderness.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:17 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

The historic trail in New Mexico is threatened by a spaceport?
posted by mdonley at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2007

Stewart's Point Rancheria is in my home country, I wrote to my rep and senators about it. Thanks Falconetti.
posted by supercrayon at 8:07 PM on June 24, 2007

Oh, and the entire city of New Orleans.
posted by ColdChef at 8:27 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

mdonley - The historic trail in New Mexico is threatened by a spaceport?

You say it like it's a bad thing...?
posted by porpoise at 8:30 PM on June 24, 2007

One of the eleven on this list are the historic structures in the Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF). I have some experience here, so I'll comment on this entry only.

First: the image listed on their link page for the MTNF is the Sinking Creek "fire tower house" that was offered to my organization at no cost two years ago. This offer is still open, but we don't have the funds to maintain and operate this house. If it's still around in a couple of years, we might be able to take it as a trail shelter or B&B. The point is that the Forest Service did try to make it available.

Second: this is the sad part-- the MTNF is assessed a internal maintenance fee by square-footage for all structures on their land. The purpose of this fee is to create a pool of money for future maintenance of said buildings. This makes sense for their offices, but the fee also is applied to ANY building, including sheds, barns and old buildings left over from land purchases. This fee is taken directly from their budget allowance, so the more square-footage they have, the less money they get for normal forest operations.

Already reeling from budget cuts, the MTNF has been looking at any and all ways to reduce overhead. Reducing square-footage is one solution, so they've been closing offices. And burning old houses.

That's right. Burning houses. For example, a few years ago they bought a parcel to extend the Ozark Trail. This parcel had an old house with several out-buildings. This square-footage counted against their maintenance fee, so this past winter they burned them to the ground.

No more square-footage problem.

Six miles away from me was an early 1900s house whose interior structure contained hand-hewn oak logs. Next to it was a spring house and two barns. Burned to the ground.

There are dozens of other buildings waiting for fire next winter. Sure, they're abandoned and rotting. But instead of looking at a way to save/restore these structures, the administrative policies of the Forest Service almost begs the local districts to rid themselves of their 'damaging' square-footage.

If the classification of these buildings would change, some would survive for a while longer. But even then, they'd still face the eventual fate of forest reclamation unless a restoration program was put in place.

Ghost towns don't last long in the Ozark forest.
posted by F Mackenzie at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2007 [10 favorites]

I find it pretty interesting that they illustrate the "Historic Places in Transmission Line Corridors" not with images of the threatened historic places themselves, but instead with images of the towers that hold the lines. It's an implicit admission that the new structures are, visually at least, far more arresting than what they're replacing.

I've always found these towers spooky and beautiful in their own right, and I'm sure that fifty years hence, when they've been replaced by cheap superluminal hyperspace bypass pipelines or some similar blah blah blah, we'll be fighting to preserve our nation's stunning electrical heritage.
posted by phooky at 9:26 PM on June 24, 2007

Interesting. I had no idea about the structures in the Mark Twain National Forest, and I lived most of my life in the state. Thanks for the insight, F Mackenzie.
posted by zsazsa at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2007

I'm with ColdChef, I think the entire city of New Orleans trumps this "top 11".
posted by tomplus2 at 9:33 PM on June 24, 2007

ColdChef: The city's historic districts made the list last year. The French Quarter is a more interesting case in that it made the list way pre-K, more than two decades ago, due to over-commercialization. Maybe they just gave up on the Quarter? Ripley's Believe It Or Not just announced plans to close its New Orleans location, however, so hope abounds, despite Starbucks' apparent hopes for a Jackson Square locale.
posted by raysmj at 9:43 PM on June 24, 2007

The Kashia Pomo Native American tribe has inhabited this Northern California land for thousands of years. But because a federal program to protect tribal historic resources is seriously under-funded, the Kashia, like many tribes, is losing its sacred and historic sites to looters, vandals and the elements.

Such a shame the Pomos don't have a casino to help with the funding there...
posted by Slothrup at 9:55 PM on June 24, 2007

The Trust rotates the entire list every year. That is to say, something that was on last year's list but not this one may or may not be less endangered; there's no statement one way or the other.

I think it's daft to choose something arbitrary and say that the list is "trumped". The Trust is choosing structures based on a metric of historicity, immediate threat, and salvageability.

The historic trail in New Mexico is threatened by a spaceport?

NM has been trying to get into the spaceport business for a long time, without much success, and the peak of commercial launches was several years ago.

The Brooklyn industrial waterfront?

An important part of New York and American history (among other things, it was the one in On The Waterfront, that is to say, the waterfront). The time to save it is now, as it's threatened by redevelopment. The history of re-used industrial structures is strong, but just as strong is a history of obliteration for new construction. There's no question that the neighborhoods that retain their architectural integrity have more character.

change is not necessarily bad

Postroad, historic preservationists understand this. They hope for adaptive reuse of older structures and applaud redevelopment that understands their importance and uses them to enhance property value.

It's an implicit admission that the new structures are, visually at least, far more arresting than what they're replacing.

Oh, please. It's an implicit admission that they're talking about thousands and thousands of acres of historically open land, as well as hundreds or thousands of structures, any one of which might not be visually "arresting" but may well have value as an historic or cultural artifact.
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]

They should definitely preserve and readapt as many buildings along the Brooklyn waterfront as possible. The area now known as DUMBO has a lot of architectural character, and it deserves to stay and live on. Or maybe the hideous highrises like the one shown in one the photos on the site is preferable? Surely only to the developers and their bankers: those New Yorkers who care about the beauty and integrity of their city, and preserving its rich architectural heritage wherever possible should be against the destruction of the old Brooklyn waterfront.

But fighting City Hall is probably harder than ever, these days. You have to devote your full-time life to this sort of thing in order to change anything, and even then, the developers and profiteers will probably win out in the end.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:47 PM on June 24, 2007

I'm with ColdChef, I think the entire city of New Orleans trumps this "top 11".
posted by tomplus2

Me, too.

The historic trail in New Mexico is threatened by a spaceport?
posted by mdonley

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail.

"The earliest Euro-American trade route in the United States, the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, known for its austere physical beauty, rural solitude and remote isolation, is threatened by a $225 million commercial Spaceport, a venture planned adjacent to one of the most pristine and sacred segments of the Trail."

My emphasis: I hadn't heard anyone local saying bad about the Spaceport's location. El Camino Real is a long trail. If there are any significant areas threatened, I'd like to hear more about it.

&, yes, I think it's interesting to associate El Camino Real with a spaceport...

Ummm, there are Historic Route 66 Motels surviving...even doing good business...

Pinon Canyon.

In Southeastern Colorado, under uninterrupted blue skies, the Pinon Canyon area includes scenic buttes, river valleys, family ranches and historic and archeological sites that span 11,500 years. The area is threatened by the U.S. Army's plans to expand its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site by as much as 408,000 acres, a move that could lead to forced condemnation of private lands and damage or destroy historic Santa Fe Trail monuments, ranches, and historic and prehistoric archeological sites.

I've read a little about the Pinon Canyon issue. I would be interested to learn more.

Aww, geez, F Mackenzie...

I've seen 'reclamation' projects where the original buildings, like the Brooklyn industrial waterfront, were the priciest condo revamps.

I've never actually been in a Starbucks...what's it like?
posted by taosbat at 10:47 PM on June 24, 2007


It's just a weird word, and I liked the fact that this very old, very historic area is being turned into something very cutting-edge. I like rockets as much as the next guy - I guess I'm just curious why it's in such a relatively distant location. The state and county must have really sweetened the deal - total conjecture on my part, not being a New Mexican. Citizens of the Land of Enchantment, what say you?
posted by mdonley at 11:04 PM on June 24, 2007

Citizens of the Land of Enchantment, what say you?

The way I heard it, it's not that remote for the folks who work there. I would like to hear from someone in the local area. That's far from here in "the Land of Enchantment."

posted by taosbat at 11:16 PM on June 24, 2007

I've never actually been in a Starbucks...what's it like?

The ones in Japan generally feature very tasty, well-brewed coffee, served up with characteristic efficiency and good cheer. I hear that in the states, though, the java is often bitter and overhot, and served up by underpaid and disgruntled youngsters who hate you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:17 PM on June 24, 2007

Ick. I like a good brew. There's some social penchant for over-roasted bitter burnt coffees overwhelming my ability to find nice beans...
posted by taosbat at 11:29 PM on June 24, 2007

as in the waterfront instance, change is not necessarily bad.

Okay. I almost cursed you out about change being bad. Then I read about the waterfront. Actually, it was which waterfront.

Brooklyn's waterfront has been around for a long time. I understand wanting to keep old buildings around and all, but to call it 'newly hip.'

That's just wrong. People have been living in New York before it was called New York. It's not 'newly hip' at all. Bulldoze the buildings/docks/whatever that have the least significance, keep the ones that are important (or tugboat them... whatever you do when they're right on the water).

As far as change being bad, I was thinking more along the lines as to when it brings in more people. Of course the people who have lived there don't have the education to get the new jobs. So new people come in, and the people who are there end up still living in poverty.

That is happening in Alabama at least. That's not good change.

Well, that and I hate to see the land disappearing.
posted by robtf3 at 11:35 PM on June 24, 2007

It's just another example of the US government's attitude to historical monuments. Sad business.
posted by imperium at 1:38 AM on June 25, 2007

The Brooklyn industrial waterfront? Let that one go.

A gift from Michael Bloomberg, his deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff and Marty Markowitz to wealthy billionaire developers? Can't do that Caddis.

The waterfront is pretty special, to turn it into a mass of light destroying condo towers for people who make 6 to 7 digit salaries isn't anyones idea of a good thing for Brooklyn. Except for the politicians and developers. A friend and I were discussing the unbelievable rate of construction in Brooklyn and we came to the conclusion that the only way it can be like this is if the city has made it almost impossible for these developers to lose money on putting up these hideous things. It's gross and pure unthinking blinkered greed. Huge tax subsidies have been given away (421a) since the 70s here in NYC so that housing for the rich can be put up. So, in essence New Yorkers have been providing corporate welfare to billionaires so that they can be priced out of their own neighborhoods. Also a mystery is who is going to move into these new condo buildings? There are dozens of them that are either still almost completely empty and I doubt these developers are going to lower their prices, so who is going to live there?

Best I can come up with is transitory people who will come here from other states and countries. People who won't give a toss about the community or holding politicians accountable because they know they're not really staying here. There's already tons of these types on people in New York and they suck. They're the perfect tax base. Heavy on the taxable incomes and very light on the city body politic.

Bloomberg, Markowitz, and the Community Boards that Markowitz controls (he's fired people on community boards who aren't friendly to R.E. concerns), have given neighborhoods only the most tepid and transparently toothless hearings on rezoning. I hope it comes to bite both of them in the ass. Bloomberg as he does his coy little tap dancing self congratulatory routine on the national stage and Markowitz, as he sets himself up further as being NYC's next mayor. And it would be best to sum up Markowitz as the sort of spotlight craving dolt who woulda made a good member of the three stooges....

I think there's a backlash that's been growing for a while though and I can only hope and pray that people will finally stand up to this shit. I've been alarmed about it for the last 3 or 4 years and now others I know are also beginning to become alarmed as well.

And I hate to think this way, but if a down cycle in the stock market is the only thing that's going to stop the wholesale destruction/transformation of Brooklyn into a playground for the rich than I say bring it on because this so called "real estate boom" stoked by a city government deaf to the middle class can go to hell.
posted by Skygazer at 9:51 AM on June 25, 2007

Manners and Trashing the Place
posted by homunculus at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2007

Oh and here's the soultion to NYCs housing crunch. Do not allow developers to warehouse condo's or apartments. As soon as they're done people should be allowed to move into them even if that means the developers don't get the ass rape prices they're asking for. Because in spite of all this building, the vacancy rate here in NYC is projected to be even less in 2011 than it is now.

the vacancy rate for Manhattan rentals is now estimated at 3.7 percent, according to data collected by Property and Portfolio Research, an independent real estate research and advisory firm in Boston. It is expected to shrink to 3.3 percent by the end of this year and to 2.9 percent by 2011.

Good reference on 421a tax abatements for billionaires.
posted by Skygazer at 9:59 AM on June 25, 2007

To those of you who think New Orleans should be included, it was on the 2006 list.
posted by etoile at 8:20 PM on June 25, 2007

What Skygazer said.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:52 PM on June 25, 2007

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