The cost of urban preservation

I like a nice old sandstone Richardsonian Romanesque office building, with columns, cornices, and elaborate entryways.  Like this one:

But I don't have to pay to maintain the thing, install modern fire-control equipment, remove asbestos, or try to rent to finicky commercial tenants who care more about the conformation of the space they lease than they do about architectural detail.

So I found the discussion about the Northwestern Guaranty Loan Building in Minneapolis, on one of my favorite sites, Shorpy, extremely enlightening.  The building was torn down in 1961, in one of those fits of urban renewal that characterized the era.  One hates the soul-sucking monstrosity that replaced it (as posted in a comment by bipto), while understanding the gigantic expense that would have been required to keep it operational, as pointed out by Minnie A. Politan and Anonymous Tipster.  If you've ever done even minor work on your house, you know how much things like that can run.

So I am a bit chastened, after my rambling rant yesterday about the beauty of cities.  No wonder city centers of older cities are somewhat theme-park-like.  How else can you pay to maintain all those old facades, while removing dangerously obsolete wiring and keeping the roof from falling in?  You have the pimp the buildings out to preserve them. No matter what structure you see, anywhere in the world, you have to reflect that the world is doing its best to destroy it. Keeping it standing takes vigilance, and money.  A lot of money. The struggle is eternal.

As my friend James Patrick Kelly pointed out on our Boskone panel about cities, most science fiction writers don't know any economics.  If you really want beauty, you have to be willing to pay for it.