What We’re Reading: Illuminating Blight in Upstate New York

Tactical Urbanism, What We're Reading

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When Thomas Edison moved the Edison Machine Works to Schenectady, New York in 1887 he helped transform the sleepy Upstate river village into an international hub for power generation and manufacturing. In the 50 years that followed the transformation of Edison Machine Works into General Electric, Schenectady’s population grew from slightly under 14,000 to nearly 100,000 residents.

However, in the later half of the 20th century, when GE relocated much of its manufacturing to the Sun Belt and abroad, Schenectady and many other industrial towns surrounding Albany lost nearly a third of their population. In the wake of this exodus, much of New York’s Capital Region has been plagued with large numbers of blighted residences.

Soon, the architect Barb Nelson and artist Adam Frelin will help shine a light on the region and the nation’s blighted neighborhood problems. The recipient of a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, the pair will illuminate hundreds of vacant buildings throughout the Capital Region with LED lights that will slowly pulse in a way to suggest life within.

Read more about the installation, which will run nightly through October and November by clicking here and click here to watch a test run of the lights in Schenectady, from which the animation above is taken.

Animation Courtesy of www.breathinglights.com/
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