Monday, July 31, 2006

Lost Relevance

The following experts come from an article "The Story of Cleveland" written by a Henry E. Bourne and published in the New England Magazine, August 1896:
(My notes are in italics.)

"...They(the railroads) might bring traffic to the city, but they could also, and did, carry by to other markets, freight which in the earlier days had to be at least trans-shipped at Cleveland. For this reason, in the latter part of the fifties(1850's), the city seemed in danger of suffering from arrested development, if not from actual decadence..."

"The career of Cleveland, like that of many other cities in the middle West, has been remarkable; but many years must pass by before it will become a city with a distinct civic individuality. It controls 300,000 or more inhabitants, scattered for ten miles along the Lake and five miles inland, and yet it is hardly more than a group of towns. A careful map of the city would show here a New England town, there a half dozen German streets, over yonder a Polish or Bohemian or Hungarian settlement, still further on a little Italy. Cleveland's sagacious business men have been very successful in welding diverse pieces of metal into great engines of power and good. Will they be equally successful in merging all these types of men, with their conflicting ideas, into a strong and loyal, broadly sympathetic body of Clevelanders?"

Has Cleveland lost her relevance in a global age? Has the global "rail road" passed her by? Has racism and "conflicting ideas" alienated her citizens and cast her once great neighborhoods into forgotten ghettos and fiefdoms? Where are her "sagacious" men and women now?

Despairingly yours,

L. S. Moore


Blogger Bradley said...

I can recall a recent unscientific survey of residents from other cities in which a large majority of those surveyed had no preconceptions, negative or positive, about the City. The positive spin of these numbers was that the "Mistake on the Lake" moniker could be shed and that an opportunity existed for creating a positive impression of Cleveland. Of course, your post's quotes suggest that the lack of identity has persisted over the past hundred years - which is a tall order to overcome.

In this global age, I'm beginning to believe that Cleveland's relevance will be as a part of a regional Great Lakes economy, with Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto, Milwaukee, Minneapolis with interconnected interests and specialties, and shared infrastructure and natural resources. This globally competitive mega-economy (with Chicago at the center) competes with the Northeast Corridor, economies of the Pacific Rim, etc. Of course, to achieve this tremendous feat, the cities must collectively create a "strong and loyal, broadly sympathetic body" that the City of Cleveland hasn't been able to do among her various neighborhoods, ideas, and interests.

9:07 PM  

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