The Tale of Two Cities On the Rebound
I got the chance to hear Christopher B. Leinberger at the 2008 Historic Downtown Cleveland Luncheon Forum at Windows on the River. I have a lot of thoughts on what he had to say during his presentation and I’m going to get his book.
He talked about two cities I know a lot about having lived in both of them, Cleveland & Detroit. I recall leaving Cleveland back in 2000 and relocating to Motown. I didn’t know much about it other than the obvious. I was surprised seeing what the downtown had to offer. Truly, not much. You could get lunch but after everyone went home to the ‘burbs, the city rolled up the sidewalks. You could walk there but you’d do so with people who likely didn’t have a home.
There was a river, Greektown neighborhood, Comerica Park, Hockeytown, Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Hall and even casinos. Why did everyone want to go home to the ‘burbs and not support the city? Detroit had so much opportunity to get people downtown and rebuild what was a great area of commerce, business and living. I’d cite all of the development and positive energy I saw leaving Cleveland. Who could forget what happened to the area when the city celebrated its 200th anniversary? The Flats came alive, the Warehouse District was growing, seeds were being planned in the East Fourth Street neighborhood, anchored by then Gund Arena and Jacobs Field and a could be restaurant/bar called Flannery’s. I wanted this for my new home in Detroit.
Believe me, all of the metro Detroiters heard my Cleveland stories about how they were missing the boat (no pun intended) and not developing their downtown and waterfront. I realize how much I hate traffic and driving. Everything in Metro Detroit is at least a half hour away from everything else. Every time a friend wanted me to visit, they always lived a half hour away. Why couldn’t things be more centralized?
Now, I’m living back in Cleveland and hearing about Detroit’s renaissance (albeit much later than city planners expected). I’m hoping Cleveland can now follow in Detroit’s footsteps back to urban revitalization.
p.s., I plan to have more on Mr. Leinberger’s presentation tomorrow.