Monday, September 21, 2015

Art From The Bottoms Up

"It's an interesting (but not all that uncommon) geographic paradox: the poorest
part of the city has the best, close-up views of its imposing skyline."

Ed decided we were going to visit the neighborhood of Franklinton because he liked the way it sounded.

"Franklinton. Franklinton. Fraaaanklinton." he kept repeating as we drove there.

We didn't know anything about this area other than what I'd read on Wikipedia - who founded it, where it got its nickname, how the entire town flooded in 1913 when the levees holding back the Scioto river collapsed, filling the streets with 7 to 17 feet of water and killing 93 people, leaving another 20,000 homeless. That wasn't its last flood.

Fast forward to the 21st century - 56% of residents don't have a high school diploma, 60% live below the poverty line, and 93% of students in the public elementary school are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

But they have community art.
Apparently Franklinton, now over 218 years old, was a place known for its crime.  Graffiti, boarded up buildings, drugs, and prostitutes. Over the last few years, they've been trying to change that. 
The neighborhood even has a nickname, The Bottoms. It was called that because so much of the land in the area lies below the surrounding rivers. And some say because of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
The area is going through a revitalization but the people involved really don't want to price the current residents out of the neighborhood, something that often happens with standard gentrification. They'd rather have affordable housing in a nicer neighborhood. Not rich people buying up the neighborhood and pushing them out.

It sounds like a long and challenging process, but this neighborhood is really close to the other great downtown neighborhoods and it would be interesting to see what happens over the next 20 years.

Many buildings have murals just like this.  Full buildings, full of color. It sort of distracts from any blight in the area. Ed and I drove around looking for the artwork, and by concentrating on it, didn't notice that the area seemed as bad and what I've read about it.

Of course, this was in broad daylight and there weren't any hookers or drug dealers to be seen. Maybe they just don't work during the day.

This neighborhood is the site of the first settlement in Columbus.  There's a log post office, built in 1807, that's being restored. It was under plastic sheeting when we drove by. 
This will become the "hip new district of Columbus" as this Atlantic article states. I can totally see its potential.  It's directly across the river from downtown, the COSI (Center of Science and Industry) science museum sits on its western edge, it has direct access to a major interstate, and it really isn't such a bad location.

We see neighborhoods like this all over the country. Places that used to have factories, manufacturing, jobs. And they don't anymore. Detroit, Allentown, Pittsburgh. I would love to buy in one of these areas, because the potential (and artist's renderings are always amazing) but I don't think it's something that will really work for us. Well, unless it was the coolest old warehouse ever, at an unbelievable price.  And my neighbors aren't meth heads. Then maybe we could make it work.

Read the second part of John Tierney's coverage of this area HERE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Weekend Getaway

2013: Long Shadow In Kansas
2012: Spreading Joy, Pixie Style
2011: Coming Soon
2010: Feren Films Y’All Shouldn’t Miss
2009: This Guy Sucks
2008: Shine And Shine
2007: Eddie Hoots It Up Friday
2006: Eddie The Bird Whisperer
2005: Laundress


Belledog said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing the public art. Will check out the links.

Gil said...

Love the artwork. The murals are absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing your great pictures of them with us.