Continuing with A History of the Future, here’s what happens to skyscrapers after nobody can afford to keep them juiced. The passage begins in Nashville, with the protagonist’s first view of the former Capital of Country Music. Every American city had its poor collection of skyscrapers, which after the collapse became useless, and in the new times were ignored. In Nashville, people are begining to build the place anew:
I finally came into Nashville on a hot morning late in August. The very center of the town around the north side of the old statehouse had mostly been parking lots when the collapse happened. Men were at work erecting buildings of two and three stories in red brick that they salvaged from elsewhere in the deserted quarters of the city: Many strangely shaped skyscrapers loomed balefully over the blocks between the old capitol and the Cumberland River. They were empty now. The glass had been removed, starting from the lower floors. The sort of office work they were built for no longer existed and they contained a lot of material that nobody manufactured anymore. You could image the work of careful disassembly going on for decades, centuries. I know from my history classes people were still pulling marble off the ancient Roman monuments a thousand years after the empire fell.
He then moves on to Franklin, further south, now capital of Foxfire, stitched together from border states between the federal enclave to the north and the black enclave to its south, made up of most of the old Confederate states.
The original heart of the town, where activity now concentrated, was a set of ten blocks disposed around a broad traffic circle with a square rose garden set within it and an obelisk in the middle. A lot of new construction was evident. Since the Foxfire government relocated from Nashville and extended its administrative tentacles far and wide, the wealth from its territories flowed into Franklin. Much of the town had been relegated to parking lots in the old times. The lots were being filled in now and the work was impressive. The new buildings were made in the traditional style of the region, using red bricks and wood trim painted white, sometimes with black shutters, which gave you the odd impression of being somewhere that was neither exactly the past nor the present. The buildings that stood out were the awkward and ugly things left over from the twentieth century, buildings that looked like machines, or packing crates, or spaceships, and were built with materials that aged badly. These were being torn down, to great public approval.