Cities founded by companies: fantasy or exploitation?

Cities founded by companies: fantasy or exploitation?

Beginning in the 19th century, companies began to build small towns so that their employees could stay in the immediate vicinity of their jobs. The pioneers were the Cadbury brothers in the United Kingdom, when they moved their chocolate factory from downtown Birmingham to a rural area. Years later, in addition to having more workers, they had created a small village with gardens and training centers. Their employees went from work home and from home to work in a few minutes, without traffic jams and with all services at hand. This may remind of a dream life, but is it really?

The town created by the brothers George and Richard Cadbury is still standing today and has more than 26,000 residents. It was a reference for the rest of the countries and, thanks to the industrial revolution, companies from all over the world were able to invest in this type of initiatives.

On many occasions, companies offered services that governments had forgotten such as health or education. Thanks to the goods offered, the proximity and the low prices, the workers were delighted with these infrastructures. However, in the United States many companies took advantage of this model and began to rent very low-quality homes to their employees, with no option to buy, and when the worker died his family was directly expelled from the property. Suddenly, the dream became a nightmare.

An experience also lived in Spain
In Spain, in 1956, the well-known ‘Pegaso City’ was created, located in Madrid. The ENASA company created a place for residents to live by and for the company. Today, it is still possible to breathe a certain pride among those who stay there. In addition, many of the businesses that opened in the mid-50s are still standing.

From the second half of the twentieth century, this fantasy began to break apart. The State began to provide the necessary services, salaries rose and employees could already afford more central homes and vehicles to reach the factories, mostly located on the outskirts. Thus, the homes of these villages, created by the companies, were sold to the workers and, in the worst of situations, were demolished.

A new generation
This urban model, which was born more than two centuries ago, had fallen by its own weight, until, thanks to Google and Facebook, it managed to gain strength again. Google has announced an investment of $ 1 billion to build 20,000 homes in the San Francisco Bay, which will not be reserved solely for its employees. The objective of the company is to help end the impossibility of accessing a home for low-income families. However, different American media suggest that Google will get high profits thanks to this initiative.

On the other hand, Facebook has revealed that it will create a campus that will have 1,500 residences, shops, parks and a hotel in Menlo Park, California. The complex will be called Willow Village and will not be limited to company personnel. Both companies seek to avoid the constant change of workforce due to the inability to get accommodation near the workplace. Therefore, their real estate actions are becoming stronger and are committed to the model that was so successful in the nineteenth century. The two companies want to undo what many claim: “It is much harder to find a place to live in Silicon Valley than a new job.”

Within the vicinity of Google and Facebook it is possible to do everything: eat for free, go to the gym or go to the hairdresser, among many others. From work to home and from home to work, through the hairdresser, in a few minutes. For many this is an opportunity to live with greater comfort, while for others it is labor exploitation. And you do you think? Fantasy or nightmare?

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