Lost Emporia: 811 Constitution
Since WWII American cities have been reshaped.
Before WWII, cities were laid out based on patterns going back to ancient times. In short, cities were places conducive to walking.
All this changed in the 20th-century, and vastly changed after WWII when cities became conducive to automobiles. If you look at aerial images of pretty much any city you will be instantly struck by two things:
1) Images before WWII show density. There are a LOT of buildings. The downtown core is surrounded by housing.
2) Post-war images convey a wholly different pattern. There are FAR fewer buildings because countless structures were demolished in a mad craze for…parking lots.
I yearn for a magic wand which could have freeze-framed American cities around, say, 1940. And fixed-rail trolley’s would still be running, too.
Make no mistake though, I am all for the brilliant Modernist structure:
The problem is that very few structures built after WWII are brilliant. Most are banal. Many are outright ugly. Few enhance our cities. Sigh. So, with my magic wand I would allow for a very few post-WWII structures. A very few. And only the brilliant need apply.
I also bemoan parking lots replacing density and lovely old structures. Sigh.
ABOVE: This is Constitution, between Seventh and Eighth, in Emporia, Kansas.
Of the eleven houses which graced the street in 1911, only three remain today. The rest have been demolished for parking lots, and a church. The house on the SW corner of Constitution and 9th is by Charles W. Squires (marked on the map above as number 829; it is now 831). The house just to its south may be also by Squires (number 825). Just to the south, again, is the last survivor, another Squires design: 819 Constitution, built for Ashbel J. Crocker.
Just to the south again was number 811. It is long gone, and what, I often wondered, did it look like?
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