by David N. Ginsburg, President + CEO, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. //
Summer is a wonderful season for re-reading old books and taking long, contemplative walks with my dogs and a good cigar. This past weekend I (re)discovered Comeback Cities by Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio. This seminal book was written in 2000 when we were only first beginning to see the revival, repopulation, reinvestment and renaissance in American Cities. After years of decline and disinvestment, the book struck me as somewhere between visionary and wishful thinking at the time.
How many American cities were working well in 2000? Maybe a handful. New York City was beginning to clean up its act under Mayor Rudolf Giuliani and the growing impact of Business Improvement Districts (BIDS). Portland, OR was seeing center city revival led by a growing light rail system and Denver was experiencing substantial residential growth in LoDo around the new Coors Field. Finding a successful American City to benchmark was a challenge in 2000 but no more.
As Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati likes to say, downtown Cincinnati is “on fire!” We recently had a chance to showcase our center city by hosting the 2015 Major League Baseball All Star Game. People from more than 200 countries (and the vast television audience) got to see our spectacular riverfront/Smale Riverfront Park, the vitality of the central business district featuring distinctive architecture old and new, and once downtrodden, now hip Over-the-Rhine. All of these areas are bustling with a diverse array of residents and businesses helping to reinforce a walkable urban environment and a growing tax base.
We are very grateful to Major League Baseball and the owner of the
Cincinnati Reds, Bob Castellini (and his team) for selecting Cincinnati for the All Star Game. There are so many wonderful, vital cities from which to choose. Last year it was Minneapolis and next year San Diego. Organizations like CEO’s for Cities have played a vital role in identifying and sharing best practices such as place-based economic development, mixed-use development, attention to diversity, multi-modal transportation, breakthrough research, and securing the environment through “safe/clean” programs and the innovative use of public/private partnerships.
Today, the resurgence of American cities is the norm. It is amazing, as we rediscover Comeback Cities, that is has only been 15 or 20 years since we first recognized this trend. I am confident this success will become a “flywheel” propelling us to even greater, more innovative and inclusive things to come.
Banner photo courtesy of James Patterson