The Swan Creek housing development (map) is very mysterious, and a favorite spot for locals. Situated near a creek and native nature trail in East Tacoma, by the Salishan, the development was abandoned sometime before the 1970s and left to nature. The area was clear-cut, roads were paved, and a sewer system was installed. But since then the development stopped. The Tacoma Police still use the area for K-9 unit training, however, and intrepid explorers every now and then forge their way through the faulty streets to study the ekistics of the place.
A friend recently read a book called The World Without Us (upon which the History Channel’s television show Life After People is based) and how quickly human settlements would cave in under the forces of entropy, and disintegrate. Already the baseball field and dugout in this picture is completely swarmed by blackberry.
Have you noticed that overgrown vegetation in some bigger cities are actually appreciated? San Francisco, for example. People like to be reminded of what wild berries look like, what tall grass looks like, because most of their lives are spent in a concrete jungle. Those pockets of un-manicured space are an aesthetic solution to the problems of civilization. Look around Tacoma. Most of the ruinous areas that are labeled as “blighted” look like this. When the city has money to throw around, these areas are “beautified” with jenky shrubs and splintery topsoil, which even the opossums avoid.
There is always this desire for new things, new commodities, new scenery. Suburban neighborhood developments are evidence of this trend: urban planners love new things just for the sake of their newness, and they can’t stand what is old and aging. Construction is exciting simply because of its newness, and construction is itself just a function of market demand for new things. With the recession it seems unlikely these areas near the Salishan will be completed anytime soon.
And besides, they are more exciting as ruins anyhow. People will maybe even learn to appreciate ruins, as they do in countries where ruins are landmarks. I hope to see more ruins.