Lester Fredrick Volker II

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Volker, Syracuse, Renewal, Urban






Syracuse has not escaped the problem of slums. Like and other city it is blighted, decayed areas which are encroaching upon sound neighborhoods. Many times this problem has gone unchecked mainly because no one has known how to handle it. This is not to say that people have not tried. Slums certainly are not something new-- ever since cities began there have been poorer, more deteriorating section compared with other parts of the city. From the start of cities until today attempts have been made to arrest the spread of this blight. Many times these attempts have failed because the problem is such a large one and is therefore difficult to comprehend and treat effectively. This has been and still is the situation today. however, the beginning of a large organization --namely the Federal Government-- in attempting to tackle a large problem, slums, was started with the passage of Title I of the Housing Act of 1949.

The purpose of this study is to examine urban renewal in Syracuse. More specifically it will deal with the planning process with respect to the Near East Side Urban Renewal Project. Apart from the fact that Syracuse is the city in which I now reside and is therefore familiar to me, it was also chosen as an area to study because it is considered to be an average, typical American city. Fortune Magazine, May 1943, did an article on city planning in Syracuse. In this article on city planning in Syracuse. In this article it is stated (pg. 121) that Syracuse was chosen as a city to study because its "problems were characteristic of American cities in general so that the experience (of Syracuse's planning methods) might have the widest possible application." The Near East Side Project was chosen since it was the first major urban renewal project undertaken in Syracuse and the planning is now pretty much completed. Because of this, actual end results of the project can be seen, evaluated, and compared with the proposed objectives, goals and promises. In addition to the study of the planning process of the Near East Side Project a little of the history of the planning processes in Syracuse prior to the start of Urban Renewal in Syracuse will be investigated. Sources of information will be basically planning studies done for the Near East Side and interviews with people who were connected to the project.

Thus far urban renewal constitutes the major way by which inner cities are being maintained and changed. There have been very few actual case studies done examining and evaluating the actual results of the process of urban renewal. So far the majority of writings of urban renewal have dealt with the generalized processes and effects, not with the actual physical development of a project in a particular city. This thesis is to be a modest attempt to undertake such a study, the Near East Side Project in Syracuse, New York.

It is also needed as soon as possible in order to record the actual occurrences attendant to the planning process before the live experiences are forgotten or lost. It has been over fifteen years since the start of the Near East Side Project. Obviously much has occurred in this time span. People moved out of the area, it was totally cleared, streets were changed, sites were improved and finally redeveloped. Different people now live in the area. It would probably be safe to say that the majority of these people are unaware of the planning that was done before today's physical result appeared. This study then is to be a piece of information offering to the reader an idea of some of the inputs that went into the original planning of the Near East Side Project and of the inconsistencies and compromises that followed. Special attention will be given o course to the development of those sites that were the major components of the Near East Side.

It is this writer's hope and aim that this work might encourage further investigation that would do justice to the complexity and import of a subject such as this.

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