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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 105 -- Eminent Domain Failure.

Eminent Domain-


Some historical examples of the failure of eminent domain, pre-Kelo:

In 1959, through the use of eminent domain and a desire to foster economic development, the City of New Haven demolished the one-block-long Spruce Street, which was less than 500 yards from the town green and Yale's campus. With it vanished 23 houses and stores owned by Asians, blacks and first-generation immigrants from Italy, Russia, Ireland, Poland and Greece. There was the A.&P. grocery store, the Joseph Horowitz junkyard, Afinitto's meat market, two nightclubs, Jacob Gutkin's tailor shop, Dorothy Cohen's Hebrew tutoring business and Bill Jones's trucking operation, not to mention Charley Brewster's brothel and an after-hours juke joint where visiting musicians like Duke Ellington once played.

All these, along with row houses, apartments and single-family houses, disappeared. The plaza of stores that replaced it has since been torn down; a Walgreens now stands in its place.

Spruce Street was but one of the victims of the 1950's and 60's in New Haven, when an idealistic City Hall spent more federal government and foundation dollars per capita than any other in America to address poverty. (New Haven received $745.38 per citizen from the federal urban renewal program; the next closest city, Newark, received $277.33.) Through eminent domain, the city seized blocks of tenements - or in some cases, as in today's New London, stately if sometimes neglected houses - replacing them with sterile middle-class housing, upscale retail stores and an eyesore of a coliseum.

Those displaced were shuttled to remote housing projects like Brookside and Quinnipiac Terrace on the western and eastern outskirts of New Haven. With them went the street life of much of the city. In 1970, as urban renewal ended, the census ranked New Haven the 38th-poorest city in America. Ten years later, it was ranked seventh, with 23.2 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Today, more than a quarter of the city's families live in subsidized housing.




Previous trivia tidbits:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Part 11; Part 12; Part 13; Part 14; Part 15; Part 16; Part 17; Part 18; Part 19; Part 20; Part 21, Part 22; Part 23, Part 24, Part 25; Part 26; Part 27, Part 28; Part 29; Part 30, Part 31; Part 32; Part 33; Part 34; Part 35; Part 36; Part 37; Part 38; Part 39; Part 40; Part 41; Part 42; Part 43; Part 44; Part 45; Part 46; Part 47; Part 48; Part 49; Part 50; Part 51; Part 52; Part 53; Part 54; Part 55; Part 56; Part 57; Part 58; Part 59; Part 60; Part 61; Part 62; Part 63; Part 64; Part 65; Part 66; Part 67; Part 68; Part 69; Part 70; Part 71; Part 72; Part 73; Part 74; Part 75; Part 76; Part 77; Part 78; Part 79; Part 80; Part 81; Part 82; Part 83; Part 84; Part 85; Part 86; Part 87; Part 88; Part 89; Part 90; Part 91; Part 92; Part 93; Part 94; Part 95; Part 96; Part 97; Part 98; Part 99; Part 100; Part 101; Part 102; Part 103; Part 104.

Daily Trivia Tidbits cover a wide range of topics, and they're usually not trivial at all; you never know what you might find. Stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 12 July 2005 09:09 AM


I was in graduate school in New Haven during the 60's and New Haven was a national story on redevelopment. There was a freeway to nowhere splitting the town, acres of cleared land and none of the redevlopment projects added quality or livability to the town. Yale even considered abandoning its campus and relocating elsewher.

Posted by: Ralph at July 12, 2005 09:46 AM

I suspect the Kelo decision will be the Plessy case of this century. One reason Plessy was reversed was because "equal" could mean anything if it were left to the states to define it.

Sooner or later the court will see that it simply makes no sense to say that state governments have any absolute (i.e. unbounded) powers. Either the federal constitution sets limits upon every level of government or the constitution means nothing.

Kelo was the latest in a series of rulings which gave government more and more power over property. In that respect it was no legal surprise.

Now states can define "public use" as they wish. This makes no sense - the words of the Constitution are not different in each state. The states can control only what is not addressed in the Constitution - e.g. murder, size of juries, etc. are not addressed.

Legal scholars will fill volumes with fine words about federal v. state powers. But Kelo is a mistake because it implies the words of the constitution mean different things in different states.

Kelo harks back to the mistaken "community standards" ruling about obscenity. In the final analysis that did no good; though it is hard to feel sympathy for strip clubs and pornographers.

Posted by: Ken at July 12, 2005 05:15 PM