It’s been a while since we had a Mississippi Architect post, so it’s high time we get back to it. If you’ve joined us recently, we started reprinting articles from The Mississippi Architect, a magazine published monthly by the Mississippi AIA from March 1963 through March 1965. We’re getting close to the end of this run (the magazine started back up in the 1970s), and today is Bob Henry’s editorial from December 1964, warning Jackson not to become a “frowning, tight-lipped, short-tempered city” like New York.
With Faith We Build
Seven out of ten Americans now live in or around cities.
Our population has changed from rural to urban at a rapid pace in recent years and the trend continues. People move to the city in pursuit of better jobs, better educational opportunities for their children, and cultural advantages. They seek the services that only a city can offer – fire and police protection, water, and sewerage disposal. They expect to find better housing and a good public transportation system. They want to enjoy the convenience of living in the “big” market place with access to a wide choice of goods and services. It is reasonable to suppose that they expect to find a better way of life in general.
Large cities across the countrv are failing to meet the challenge of rapid growth.
In a recent article in Fortune magazine Richard Whalen says that New York City is destroying itself and that the failure can be traced to the apathy and venality of politicians, the cold unconcern of builders, and the remoteness and indifference of business and financial leaders. He says that New York represents the idea of a great city.
What has happened to New York should serve as an object lesson to other cities. Unplanned congestion has resulted in economic inefficiency and waste. There is endless human discomfort, inconvenience, harassment, noise, and filth. The end product is a frowning, tight-lipped, short-tempered city, Whalen says.
Mississippi’s capital city has recently attained a metropolitan population of a quarter of a million people. We do not yet suffer the blight of most of America’s large cities but we most certainly will in the future if we fail to plan wisely. We need a good public transportation system. Jackson is a clean city and we must make certain that it stays clean.
We need long-range city planning that concerns itself with more than streets, utilities, and stop-gap zoning. If the citizens of Jackson can be made aware of the necessity for planning, they will demand and support it and our city will meet its responsibility in providing the ultimate opportunity’ for the individual to find here the good life. With faith we build.
This article is reprinted from the December 1964 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.
Written 50 years ago, yet without a date, you would think it was penned yesterday…still applicable.
This is sobering. Many people would say New York is pretty successful as a major city, especially compared to the grim, pessimistic 1970s. Many great things happen there. As for Jackson? There are a few pockets of revival, but a lot of decay. What long-range planning? What is the plan to reverse the flight to the suburbs?
Jassen Callender of the Jackson Community Design Center says, “The anticipated fate of New York City has proven unfounded. NYC planned well and is now considered one of the most vibrant and sustainable cities in the U.S. Jackson, on the other hand, did not heed warnings and its plight is perhaps worse than anticipated. Frightening.”
Yes. No vision, and (seemingly) no interest. And no interest in building interest.