Quakertown

9 thoughts on “Quakertown”

  1. Quakertown’s been run by suburb-obsessed, tract-home obsessed, car-obsessed politicos for three generations. So have Bethlehem and Allentown There are signs that this is finally changing. But only very recently.

  2. As bad and terrible as California tract housing can be, photo essays remind me that the stuff back east is so much worse. Ugh.

    And I’m sorry if that makes me sound like an “Upper Middle Class Snob”. I wouldn’t buy one of these houses even if I could afford it. Yuck.

    1. The spray-on synthetic stucco and polystyrene McMansions of California are neck-and-neck with the compressed dust and vinyl versions of the east coast. The soullessness of these buildings in Quakertown isn’t what bothers me. In thirty years trees will mature and soften the rawness of these bleak landscapes. Instead, I expect all the component parts of these homes (cheap plastic windows, paper thin roof shingles, peel-and-stick siding, discount water heaters and furnaces, plastic pipes, cheap ass cabinets, etc.) will fail long before the mortgages are paid off. The just-scraping-by, deep-in-debt, paycheck-to-paycheck middle class folks who live in these places may not be able to successfully replace each element of these homes as they self destruct. Combine that reality with the ever-crappier drive-thru strip mall public realm just outside the subdivisions and a soon-to-be-bankrupt local municipality and this is a future slum in the making. There is no cure for any of it.

  3. Yes, I have seen quakertown and bucks county. There’s some nice stuff there. Is downtown REALLY that vacant? I just did a check on Wikipedia and growth has indeed been stagnant recently. PA in general has no been doing well. Funny, many places would re-use the heck out of a quaint downtown near a major city. I tend to doubt there is some kind of “deliberate eviseration” of that downtown, but that people for some reason don’t want to invest in it. Me, depending on the variables, I’m the kind of guy who smells opportunity there, since my personality is one that likes to find value where others have overlooked it.

    1. I don’t see any of this as depressing. I’m observing reality as it unfolds. Short term economic and social inertia is pushing development out in to the cornfields in a specific and predictable fashion. This pattern is ubiquitous across North America. But this isn’t going to continue forever. Sooner or later the pattern will shift. I invite you all to pay attention to your surroundings and come to your own conclusions.

  4. What’s up? Now you sound a little angry. Yes, the exurbs continue to grow faster than any other residential type. Yes, the houses you selected certainly inspire sneers from many who at least aspire to be upper middle class in some way (including myself, when it comes time to buy a home.). There are a lot of trends out there. One of the good ones, in my opinion, is the depopulation of many remote rural areas (along with many of the towns within.). Land is often being returned to agricultural uses and even back to nature. This is a good thing, IMO. Yes, we also get a lot more suburban development, especially near cities that are providing opportunities. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

    PS, speaking of PA, have you ever been to York? I was very impressed with the quality of the built environment and history of that place, and the real estate is cheap. There are of course challenges there, such as the lack of good schools you say are in quakertown. Job centers are likely a big commute away too. I love Jim Thorpe (PA), great for a Summer weekend trip for me, but it has already been discovered by the second home crowd….

    1. My problem with this kind of development isn’t that it’s ugly or soulless or disposable or designed to fail economically after a generation or two. It’s not the lost of nature or productive farm land. Everyone needs a comfortable affordable place to live and everyone needs a job. I get that. My real problem with this form of development is that the actual nearby town of Quakertown is half empty and visibly being REPLACED and intentionally eviscerated by all this plastic crap through a misguided set of public policies that subsidizes the new and actively dismantles the old. The abandonment of two hundred year old stone and brick homes, a charming Main Street business district, and public parks and institutions is being orchestrated in order to deliver a huge amount of flimsy plastic sprawl that will not last very long and cause a financial time bomb for the municipal government. A different policy would strengthen and build upon the existing town for a whole lot less tax payer money with infinitely better long term results. Then again, this is what “the market” seems to want (once millions of dollars of “free” infrastructure has been supplied to the corn fields.) So the process will play itself out over the next few decades and some future generation will have to do triage on the wreckage.

      1. The problem, as I see it, is that mostly rational people are making mostly rational decisions, that lead to good results for them personally, except that the results for the larger group are not good. It all very “tragedy of the commons”.

        You are absolutely right to point out that the system is to blame. Out collective policy have led us to a point where each individuals rational decisions do not lead to collective wealth and increased happiness, but to its opposite.

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