In London I could show you a lumberyard built over a plague pit. They threw bodies in all through the summer of ’65 until they lost count of the dead.
The ghosts of America are limited to the lifespan of whatever local can remember that this apartment complex was once an orchard full of pheasants, or that this bank was once a funeral home was once a hamburger restaurant, was once an Indian burial mound. No one remembers and no one listens anyway if it interferes with a real estate deal and making a buck.
There’s a section of wall that Charles Dickens’ father stared at when the alley was part of Southwark debtor’s prison, and there’s a corner in the Old Cheddar Cheese pub off Fleet Street where Dickens the son sat staring at the fire, just around the corner from the house where Dr. Johnson wrote the famous dictionary, and a stuffed parrot in that pub once held renown as the greatest master of profanity in all the British Empire, including Poona and Rangoon.
John D. MacDonald said once that a Florida conservationist is someone who bought their waterfront property LAST week. A few years ago, Disney had to be talked out of building a theme park next to the Fredericksburg battleground where Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain covered himself with the dead to guard against snipers and had to listen all night to the hogs tearing at the dead and the wounded. That was before Gettysburg and the Battle of Little Round Top, when he and the 20th Maine saved the whole sorry country for the makers of theme parks and the real estate mavens.
A volunteer for ACORN (they lobby for housing for the poor) told me that their greatest enemies lurked in the United Way, which is often controlled by local real estate interests. I wonder what part memory will play in the rebuilding, I mean systematic looting, of drowned New Orleans? It's not just the poor that are being dispossessed. A good many people in the middle class are learning the hard way about the Invisible Hand of the marketplace: who it favors and who it bitch slaps, despite the pretty words of the civic boosters.
See Also: Eminent Domain and the Supreme Court, et al