New Architecture and City Planning: A Symposium

By Paul Zucker | Go to book overview

PRINCIPLES OF SLUM CLEARANCE

By WILLIAM H. SCHUCHARDT

May I be pardoned for my temerity in accepting an invitation to discuss possible principles which may unfold out of some phases of disintegration of American cities, which are not as yet formulated nor tested and which, therefore, are not ready to emerge from the unbounded realm of rhetoric. In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, we are still very much at the "commencement" of the beginning in respect to dealing with slums. But the seed planted by the great Jacob Augustus Riis, in his Herculean task of cleaning out one or two stalls of New York's Augean stables some forty years ago, has finally germinated. To be sure it is fifty years since plants growing out of similar seed gave signs of vigorous vitality in Europe but, though late in starting, we are now making some headway. But only some. The splendid accomplishments of our various housing authorities in the last years, and they certainly are impressive, are as yet interesting solely as experiments, as demonstrations of what is possible and of what is likely to come in the arrangement of the super-block and in other details. In my humble opinion, they are far from being a complete answer for they are, after all, but the surface treatment of a deep seated disorder. However, I confess that whatever may be those of my thoughts on the subject which are perhaps a bit worthy of presentation, they are at best gropings in the dark and I offer them merely as a provocation to further discussion.

-311-

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