Melting away

Melting away Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

A sign inside the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall notes that, over the past 20 years, nearly 1M households have been relocated from 42.81M m^2 (466.2 million square feet) of demolished “shabby and dilapidated houses.”

Now, imagine if all the office space in the entire Washington-Baltimore region — or all those in NYC, Long Island, and southwest Connecticut — were swept away, beginning with the inauguration of G. H. W. Bush. That’s the scale of change underway.

Of course, the scale is entirely necessary due to a metro population growing at nearly one million people a year. My interest in urban issues began with realizing that the city around me would add a million people during my childhood — a stupendous pace for America, but downright leisurely in the context of urban China. With population growth on that scale, I can’t blame decision-makers in Shanghai for deciding to demolish lower-scale neighborhoods in favor of high-rise developments. Where else would people go: the suburbs?