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What the Gentrification Debate Always Leaves Out

Armchair urbanists look at price-gouged coastal cities forgetting that many inner-cities lack development.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

We hear so much about exploding housing prices and class tensions in gentrifying neighborhoods like Brooklyn and San Francisco that it’s easy to imagine that’s the new normal for American cities. But we don’t hear nearly as much about the near east side of Akron, Ohio, or west Louisville, Kentucky—neighborhoods that are poor, have been for a long time, and, for the most part, just getting poorer and emptier. The sad fact is, the average urban neighborhood in America is much more like east Akron than northeast Brooklyn.

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Some Things Won't Budge: Holiday Time in Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio is no more resistant to change than any city in America. Probably less so, in fact.

Akron, Ohio is no more resistant to change than any city in America. Probably less so, in fact. In 2007, the art museum downtown was remodeled by an Austrian architecture firm and now has a futuristic glass addition. A couple years back, the three-story, decades-old Arby’s sign on Market Street—the one in the shape of a cowboy hat and illuminated by dozens of lightbulbs—was replaced with a smaller, more energy-efficient sign. That same summer, my elementary school was demolished. King School had been built in 1923. Its basement had hosted the first Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Preservation groups collected signatures and raised hell. But it was as leaky and drafty and mold-infested as you’d expect of a pre-war building subject to humid summers and freezing winters, and the state was offering money to rebuild. So it, too, came down.

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This Company Turns Plastic Bottles Back Into Crude Oil

Plastic is made from oil, so it should come as no surprise that you could turn oil bottles back into crude.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But if life gives you plastic? Make crude oil. Vadxx, an Ohio-based energy company, is taking even plastics that can't be recycled and reverting them to the material state from whence they came: crude oil.

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