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PAGE TWO URBAN PROSPECTS FOR THE The following articles address several issues common to most Texas cities: the gentrification of older neighborhoods and the subsequent displacement of former residents, the destruction of stable neighborhoods by the encroachment of large public or private institutions, the dramatic rise in tenant populations, the overhaul by private or public enterprise of a city’s traditional image. Texas cities have not been entirely immune to the problems of urban decay and overcrowding that have struck older industrial cities of the Northeast. Neither have they been entirely immune to the economic decline of the ’70s and ’80s, a situation in which financial relief has trickled down only to those few at the top of the supply-side pyramid. The problems discussed in the following pieces are familiar to most Texas city-dwellers. While rising fuel costs have brought some suburbanites back into the cities, others have encountered urban problems as their suburbs aged or were engulfed by city expansion. As interest rates climbed, new house starts dropped. A generation raised in the “. . . the special virtue of the great city was that it did, in fact, tend to keep any one idea or institution or group from becoming dominant. Today, military power, scientific power, technical power, financial power, and, in fact, ‘cataclysmic’ power in every manifestation operate most successfully, on their own terms, by wiping out diversity and doing away with every mode of organic growth, ecological partnership, and autonomous activity.” Lewis Mumford, The Urban Prospect suburbs had fewer children and opted for city life. At the same time, Texans who have lived their entire lives in older city neighborhoods have found themselves invaded by developers and bargainhunters and pushed around or evicted by large private or public interests. Urban housing cleared for renewal projects a decade earlier has not, in many cases, been replaced. New federally subsidized housing has virtually disappeared, while thousands of units of older government housing can no longer be inhabited. More people are fighting over fewer places to live. In addition, land has become the real oil of Texas. Commercial and residential developer influence in most Texas city councils far outweighs that of individual neighborhoods or groups of citizens. City landmarks and older neighborhoods are falling to the bulldozers of profit or tax strategy, destroying what urbanologist Kevin Lynch calls, “the city’s image,” which gives spatial coherence to the lives of a city’s residents what is called a sense of place. What the following articles point to is the lack of an urban vision in Texas to confront the urban problems of the ’80s. Unlike many older cities in other parts of the country, most Texas cities still have room to grow and resources to draw upon. What is needed, however, is a far-sighted urban vision capable of bringing into being the city’s ideal role as a marketplace of goods, ideas, and people, fostering their diversity and interaction. G. R. TEXAS SERvER The Progressive Biweekly Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. Vol. 75, No. 5 March 11, 1983 The Progressive Biweekly Publisher and Editor at Large: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Joe Holley Associate Editor: Geoffrey Rips Washington Correspondents: Amy Cunningham, Al Watkins Southern Correspondent: Bob Sherrill Staff Reporter: Kay Gunderson EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Bandera; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia. Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly.Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana, Tx.; Susan Reid, Austin; CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett. Nina Butts, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Laurence Jolidon, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Janie Paleschic, Laura Richardson, M. P. Rosenberg, Bob Sindermann, Jr., Paul Sweeney, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Grant Fehr. Bob Clare, Russell Lee. Scott Van Osdol, Ronald Cortes. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Berke Breathed, Jeff Danziger, Ben Sargent, Mary Margaret Wade, Gail Woods. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerftd or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager: Frances Barton Advertising, Special Projects: Cliff Olofson Design and Layout: Sarah Clausen The Texas Observer One year rate for fiill-time students. $13. Airmail, foreign, group. and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from Microfilming Corporation of America, Box 10. Sanford, N.C. 27330. Copyright 1983 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. 2 MARCH 11, 1983