The Urban Encroachment


I was raised in a small town in Anderson County, South Carolina. From the time I was born to the time I left not much really changed. We got a one new fast food restaurant and a gas station. When I finally started getting out into the world I noticed that things moved far faster in urban areas like Atlanta, Georgia. Still, even in such a huge metropolis, the level of change didn’t strike me as powerfully as it does in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pulling out of the driveway and onto the highway I only have to drive one mile in either direction to see the drastic effect of what is called Urban Sprawl, the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Before I talk about this any further I want to make it clear that I don’t harness contempt for the rapid growth of Greenville or any city. I don’t know if anything could be done about it even if I wanted that. I am purely dazzled by the visual effect. Most of the time these sorts of things happen a lot like how a stalactite is made.  Dripping water depositing calcium salts over a vast number of years isn’t easy to imagine. You can spend your entire life watching and never see much change at all.

Greenville is different. According to the 2016 U.S. Census Greenville is the fourth fastest growing city in the United States. Nowhere do I feel like that is more noticeable than in the suburbs, more specifically at what was once the Martin family farm in Simpsonville. I honestly regret not taking the time to photograph the property before it was destroyed. If ever an example Urban sprawling existed, it was at that site. On one side of the street, you had shoe stores, Starbuck, and restaurants as far as you can see. On the other side, you had farmland, silos, and a small pond tucked away. You have only to turn your head one way or the other to step back in time or walk into the future.

Now that is gone and has been replaced with a new shopping development. In what seemed like the blink of an eye farmland was turned into pavement, silos into stores. Like I said before I don’t know how to feel about it. I’m glad that I’ll have a few new places to shop, but it does leave me feeling unsettled. The pace is what concerns me. Follow the road one way and see the abandoned ruins of mills, factories, and homes. Turn the other direction and see shopping malls popping up like wild flowers. If this is the rate of progress today, what will forty years from today bring?




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