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May 27th, 2011
BLUEPRINT AMERICA
Shrinking Cities
[VIDEO] In Youngstown, a house now abandoned was a home

Out in Youngstown, Ohio, the Blueprint America team filmed a house as it was demolished by the city. It was one of 2,500 torn down there in the past five years.

A neighbor across the street, Linda Jenkins, was happy to see it fall. “I was elated, I was overjoyed,” she said. Jenkins had watched it deteriorate over the course of 10 years from her living room window.

As the backhoe tore the house apart, Jim London of the Idora Neighborhood Association, a local Youngstown nonprofit and block watch, said, “At one time, this was somebody’s pride and joy… this wasn’t a house, this was their home.”

Really, it is one thing to look at a blighted and abandoned building and say that it needs to come down. You can plainly see it. It is another to think of that house in the context of the thousands upon thousands of empty buildings just like it in Youngstown. For each one there are businesses that failed and families that struggled and left.

Local filmmaker Derrick Jones documented his own family’s history in one house in Youngstown. The film “631″ chronicles the many good times over the years, as well as the difficulties in maintaining the house with little income, especially after two fires. It is the story of one house, now abandoned, that was once filled with life.

Related:

Youngstown, Ohio: the incredible shrinking city

Dan Kildee, leader of the ‘shrinking cities’ movement, on saving distressed cities

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