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In 1880 the government built an office space known as the Federal Building. They spent $5 million at the time on it, which is roughly $110 million today (a pittance, I know). The building lasted less than two decades. Nice.

That was from Bill Bryson’s At Home.

One Response to “Adventures in Government Planning”

  1. Rod says:

    Forty years ago, our entire county government fit into the courthouse in Norristown. Then the commissioners built One Montgomery Plaza, a high-rise office building that more than doubled the county’s office space. In a month, it was filled with county government.

    Since then, it has been a challenge for some of those county offices to keep their people working. At the planning commission, an agency that reviews ALL land development plans and generally oversees land use in the county (I bet some readers of this website think it’s their liberty to use their land as they choose to use it. Ha!), they’ve dreamed up “studies,” some financed with money borrowed from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to keep everyone busy. There was an Open Space and Environmental Protection Plan for each municipality that just happened to require a consultant with identical professional qualifications as the many staff planners at the county. All of those plans were written by the same pen, and all of them included directives to implement measures that took land through regulation. Then there was the “Main Street Manager Program” that got every borough in the county to apply for state funds to fix the curbs and sidewalks with union labor. Get the picture?

    I don’t want to run for county commissioner, but I’d love to see someone run on a pledge to sell One Montgomery Plaza and to get along with the same number of employees as the county employed in 1970. After all, weren’t computers supposed to replace the need for all those clerical workers? (I hear sounds of laughter from people rolling on the floor.)

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