This may not be entirely true. But it makes 2 serious points about contemporary cities in the developed world: why is it so hard for them to do infrastructure? And is the heritage industry really a problem rather than a solution?
Originally posted on citythreepointzero:
A GUIDE TO THE POTHOLES OF EDINBURGH
Since Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995, the city council has worked hard to protect and in many cases restore a historic atmosphere to the city. To the delight of tourists and urban historians, it’s had some wonderful succeses. The Statutory Notice System of building repairs has produced an authentically eighteenth-century feeling of corruption and decline: parts of the city now feel as decadent as the Naples of the eighteenth century Grand Tour. But perhaps the greatest, if least trumpeted, success has been the roads. In line with the council’s policy of restoring an authentic sense of history to the city, it has for some years abandoned all but the most essential road repairs. Aided by the severe winters of the late 2000s, potholes have flourished, leading to the wholesale degradation of entire streets. Now the visitor can experience the true pre-modern city everywhere. Not just potholes, but in the drizzle, great lakes have appeared, ruts, and fields of mud replacing tarmac, all making the most picturesque urban spectacle. It’s happened everywhere – you don’t just have to visit the historic core to see the roads return to their natural condition. And aided by recent rain, the council hopes to advance its programme of historicisation further. By 2020, it aims to have returned all central city roads to their eighteenth-century condition, and to add to the effect, to have banned all road transport apart from that seen in the city circa 1800. (The council has plans for a similar degeneration of the sewerage system – we’re awaiting more detail at the time of writing).