08-09-16

VACANT: ABANDONED / EMPTY / OPEN by Jane Rossman

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Jane Rossman is a summer intern here at the CUDC. She is a rising senior at Bryn Mawr College, majoring in the Growth and Structure of Cities. She will be speaking at CUDC on August 15th at 12:00 PM. Her lecture will feature the culmination of Jane’s research on the successes and failures of government, community development and residents’ responses to vacant space and properties in the Hough neighborhood and possible remedies. We asked her to write a blog piece as well, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hough Uprising—encouraging conversations concerning the history of the neighborhood as well as issues of housing, education, and community development.

VACANT: ABANDONED / EMPTY / OPEN
by Jane Rossman

Jane_blog_1Click image to view larger. Clearance Sections and Project Boundaries, East Hough highlighted, University-Euclid General Urban Renewal Plan, City Planning Commission, Jack Meltzer Associates, November 15, 1960. Public Administration Library.

The transformation of Hough to the empty land it is today began many years before the summer of 1966. Redlining, blockbusting, absentee landlords, and homes bursting at the seams from overcrowding all defined Hough in the 1950s. Slowly the few open spaces became the highlights of the dense neighborhood.

The need for more open space and better housing was answered in policy, but abandoned with lack of enforcement. The promise of renewal was denied. Instead, Hough was faced with slum clearance that left vacant space and increasing dilapidation. Promises abandoned along with increasing racial tension fueled a burning frustration that boiled over in the week long Uprising.

Razing the neighborhood to the ground left the abandoned Hough with more emptiness and blight than residents could handle. The population was reduced to a third its previous number — Hough was transformed into a landscape of the abandoned and empty.

Empty space is the breeding ground for the grass-roots. Hough Area Development Corporation (HADC), Famicos and a community determined to remain and revitalize the neighborhood began the slow path of reversing vacancy. Yet, how does one succeed when there is more empty space than structures and many of the remaining structures are so deteriorated they will soon be felled, adding to the emptiness?

How can one renew the empty space from abandonment to openness and places of intention?

Urban farms and gardens, residents rehabilitating and constructing their own homes, art programs outreach, and local organizations efforts have all helped stimulate change in the neighborhood. The areas currently considered for economic development and transit oriented development, though, do not completely reflect the possible opportunities in Hough.

Jane_blog_2_smallClick image to view larger. Hough Sustainable Development Patterns, (2013), Cleveland City Planning Commission overlaid with Vacant Properties Inventory: Vacant Structures and Land, (2016), Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

Jane_blog_3_smallClick image to view larger. Ward 7 Current Development Projects and Economic and Transit Nodes, Hough highlighted, Hough Development Corporation Short Term Plan (3-5 years), (1987) HDC, Public Administration Library.

These hubs of development constructed by local initiatives from the past 40 years create openings for economic development and further exploration of innovative intervention.

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