Photographs by Shane Lavalette Words by Arthur R. Flowers, Jr.
Urban planning says a lot about a city’s character. In Syracuse, New York, Interstate 81 separates those who live on the right side of town from those who do not. For this piece, we paired two longtime residents—an award-winning poet and a photographer—to tell the Syracuse story in pictures and words.
But now the viaduct is falling apart. It has to go.
The options are: rebuilding it, redirecting it, tunneling under it, or some hybrid multimodal concept incorporating bikes, pedestrians, and alternative public transportation, in a fluid mix that encourages area development and economic opportunity, environmental justice and sustainability, street vibrancy, public areas, and effectively gridded traffic patterns.
The dismantling efforts of cities such as Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Oakland, and others have generally found these initiatives to be successful revitalization efforts. Caltrans used the rebuild of the Cypress freeway to reunite the Oakland it had originally sundered. Change is always a challenge, but if you get ahead of it, it can be shaped. Some businesses, some commuters have objected to the possible removal of I-81, but the City of Syracuse has decided to use this opportunity to try and position itself for a 21st-century viability that has so far eluded it.
Each issue of Topic begins with a Cold Open, a video introducing that month’s theme. For July, we present the beautiful, powerful “Mouseland.” The two-and-a-half minute film, shot by director Fantavious Fritz between Detroit and New Orleans a few weeks before the 2016 election, is set to audio of the allegory “Mouseland,” recorded in 1960.