of Buenos Aires.
jostling with crowds and traffic,
but the neighborhood streets
where nothing is happening,
almost invisible by force of habit,
rendered eternal in the dim light of sunset,
and the ones even farther out,
empty of comforting trees,
where austere little houses scarcely venture,
overwhelmed by deathless distances,
losing themselves in the deep expanse
of sky and plains.
--Jorge Luis Borges
Some places are empty not because what was there is gone, but because nothing was ever there. Other places present legendary ruins that never fail to move us. Still others have been replaced by cities of the same name but changed to such extent that what gave them character is gone, never to be retrieved except in memory and imagination. And then there are the places that never took shape outside some developer's failed plans and ambition.
Such a place is the Villages of San Luis, a grand dream of suburban living outside of Little Rock -- just off I-40 at Exit 42 where it meets Arkansas 365. Only the flamenco names of the already crumbling streets and curbs now speak of the dream that was as they wind past the few little houses left adrift as hope retreated into bankruptcy. The streets have grandiose names, but the modest houses here are anything but.
You can almost hear the guitars and stamping feet in the background as you read the names of the roads that never lived up to them: the boulevards Salinas de Hidalgo and San Luis. OlÃ©! But all is quiet here. There are not even any ghosts, for this place has no past. And an uncertain future. By now the dream has gone through Chapter 7 bankruptcy and, like Detroit, is in Chapter 9.