Seeing a Vision of Community Revival

Now to have a sense of what the neighborhood around the old bus terminal was once like the reader must think about the nature of a mainly industrial area in a large city.  Because back when the bus terminal ran 24-7 the community was really a lot of warehouses, factories, and mills all cramped together.  Residents went to the terminal for many services. For example, customers seeking quality optical service could purchase glasses and get examinations at the optician boutique.  Of course, this was before the internet; today they could get quality eyewear online using a Groupon coupon to buy glasses from at discount rates.

Around the terminal were other stores, delis and crumbling row homes whose owners had opted to the rent money in their pockets rather than into building upkeep.  After all, only local tenants would complain, and they didn’t know how to attract serious attention.  Indeed, there was so much smoke from the factories and grime from the mills that you rarely could see well enough to tell how dilapidated the neighborhood had become.

And that was why the bus company decided to relocate their terminal.  Despite being in a prime location, they felt the surroundings affected their ability to attract passengers.  So they moved closer to the financial district.  That was better for them, but it left the old area without a main focal point and activity center.

Yet just when people felt the neighborhood was beyond saving people noticed that it had a unique character missing in those areas lined with concrete, steel and glass buildings, or mass-produced new homes in neighborhoods far from work and cultural and artistic centers.  Some far-sighted residents began buying properties and urging others to invest in efforts to renovate existing housing stock.  An abandoned factory was converted into a new “inner city” shopping mall that offered a place where community residents could patronize local businesses.   Efforts were made to make the area more “pedestrian-friendly” by closing local streets to automobiles while encouraging biking, walking and public transit.  Despite furious opposition neighborhood residents planted trees in the centers of intersections and surrounded them with benches, creating neighborhood “squares” where residents could congregate and enjoy the outdoors.

None of this took place overnight. But people felt changes coming. New technologies made it possible to reduce living expenses for daily essentials like eyewear and home goods. Residents wearing eyewear watched the smog gradually clear and saw that they now lived in what had become one of the city’s desirable neighborhoods.  It was a feat accomplished with hard work, determination, creativity and foresight.