Failure: Studies in Urban Decline

Past Futures: What Was Never to Be

A Future without Blight

Fifty years ago, the city of Edmonton commissioned a report on urban renewal as part of a grand strategy to revitalize the city, especially the downtown core. Part One of the study was published as a short booklet, titled, simply, The Problem.

As the city moves forward now with another set of grand plans to renew and revitalize the urban core, it’s worth looking back to see how people saw “the problem” fifty years ago.

The problem for Edmontonians in 1962 was, above all, one of blight.

This was blight:

Blight was a social problem, but also an aesthetic one:

Maps were drawn to highlighted the blighted portions of the city. This one pointed out places with low “visual street quality.” How was this measured? We do not know. Is it subjective, or are there aspects of visual street quality that meet collective aesthetic standards?


Blight was also a social problem. This map showed the rate of incidents with police by neighbourhood.


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