Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not who, but what's your city?

I have to admit this was mailed to me gratis, I'm sure with the hope of getting some free attention. I try to disuade that or ignore such offers, but this turns out to be pretty cool. A new book: The Works: Anatomy of a City, by Kate Ascher, with detailed graphics and explanations on just about everything that makes a city physically tick. Focused on NYC, but still worth a look. I'd try to create Pittsburgh focused versions of parts of it, but it would take me years. Maybe some blog fodder in the future? But for your inner urbanophile see:

In that book is the map below. I know about the issues surrounding Pennsylvania importing trash from elsewhere for disposal in our landfills. The book says that 2/3'rds of NYC trash goes to Pennsylvania and below is the map of where it winds up. I didn't realize so much of it made it to Western PA. Even one site past Pittsburgh which is quite a haul for garbage. Not as long as the journey of the infamous garbage barge, but still. One factoid I remember from my days in NYC, the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island was once the largest manmade object in human history. by volume that is...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as interesting as the "where" is the "to what effect" question.

I am originally from Ridgway, in Elk County. I presume that the dot on the upper left represents Kersey, which is just a few miles from my hometwon.

I remember Kersey as a very, very small town, a farming community on the outskirts of St. marys, the biggest town in the area. Kersey had bars that would sell six-packs to teenagers on occasion. It also had a very large fiberglass cow.

Now, it is BOOMING. The St. Marys Walmart recently relocated to Kersey, I understand, and taxes were supposedly a huge part of it. I also understand that scads of factories are opening in Kersey, some of them relocating to St. Marys. Reportedly because of... taxes. Taxes which are low because... BFI pays out the wazoo to dump gargantuan piles of garbage in Kersey.

Now, whether it makes sense for a sleepy farming community to use a garbage related windfall to draw WalMarts and factories is open to debate. But to the people of the region--who are struggling just like the rest of people who are five generation into rust-belt living--the garbage smells a lot like bread and butter. And right now, Kersey is just about the closest thing they have to a boom town. At any rate, it's a hell of a lot more booming than Marienville, where promises that a new prison-related boomtime economy haven't quite panned out.

Now, are all these "reports" and "rumors" about Kersey's economy actually true? I don't know. But I am not sure that matters as much as the PERCEPTION when it comes to forming policies regarding garbage.

At any rate, no need for an APB on me. Just got through a scad of academic interviews that took MONTHS to finish, and just handed in the line edit for my book. Which took YEARS to finish. Planning for a new baby. A possible move out of state. Etc. Etc.

Perhaps what I really need to do is move to Kersey. Or let BFI dump garbage in my yard.

Sam M

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

externalities, public finance, fiscal federalism and all of spatial economics all rolled up in that one big dot. wow.

I would guess that it may smell better than a paper plant as well. fwiw.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 10:00:00 AM  

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