About the past and the present

A lot of my friends are former History majors (or minors) so I sometimes like to ask the question, ‘if you could go back in time to any time period what would it be?’ The answer varies, depending on their interest. When I add, would you go there knowing you could never come back to the present, then the answer tends to be ‘no’ from everyone. There is just something about modern medicine and dentistry that makes today a preferred time.
Looking at Shaw’s urban renewal history and the ‘stuff’ that went before, that basically called for the need for the renewal, makes Shaw’s past an interesting place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. Well given a choice between present day Shaw and say the area near the old Shaw Jr. High circa 1940. What I see are a lot of structures built for investment purposes (two or more units on one lot), making it a land of rentals with absentee landlords. Landlords, who if good, did some maintenance and patched here and there, but really weren’t very likely to invest in major projects. Overtime that lead to the blighted conditions, which mixed with the crime, and the overcrowding.
The legacy of bad landlords still lives on in Shaw, bringing that glorious bit of history to our present lives. On my block there is a landlord who does very little to keep up the property. This person only cleans out the gutters maybe, maybe, when there is a change in tenants. As these houses are all connected problems from the bad landlord’s house, become problems for the adjoining houses. Now imagine 1/2 a block or a whole block of landlords like that.
Urban Renewal Shaw is an interesting place to visit. I like seeing how different community groups came together and split apart. Their visions of the future tells an interesting story of desires and dreams. Their cries of frustration still remain in some corners and in 40 or more years I wonder if somethings can be adequately addressed given that you have mere human beings running things. Now, I wonder if future Shaw might be a better place to stay.

2 thoughts on “About the past and the present”

  1. Good post. I would add that when a landlord doesn’t seem invested in the well being of tenants, then the tenants often treat the house the same way the landlord does. I’ve heard many tenants in Shaw talk about how unresponsive their landlord is when there is a problem, and sometimes they take their frustration out on the house itself.

    And this is, of course, if we aren’t talking about affordable housing. Once you start talking about low-income tenants, even cleaning out gutters would be a pleasant surprise.

  2. you’re right, but yet — I live in a tiny house built for 1912 workers, as you know, and parts of it are better than the new construction.

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