The Simple Math That Can Save Cities From Bankruptcy

By Emily Badger
Published: March 30, 2012

In the 1950s, the five-story brick Asheville Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, started to fall into decline, presaging what would happen to most of the city’s downtown over the next couple of decades. A department store moved into the ground floor while everything above it sat empty. Then the building got one of those ugly metal facades that’s designed to distract from the fact that all the windows are boarded up. Here’s what it looked like in the 1970s, by which time it was completely vacant.

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