A Midwest Conundrum

CityKin finds another great post from an out-of-town visitor to Cincinnati, this time from Indianapolis (see previous post from an MSP resident).

I'll paraphrase from the blog post a little bit to forge a message that I like.

What is so great about Cincinnati? Let's list some of the things:
  • The fabulous geography.
  • Spectacular, dense urban neighborhoods with wonderful architecture.
  • Innovative new architecture.
  • The patchwork quilt of towns.
  • Top notch cultural institutions.
  • Many major corporate headquarters.
  • A genuine regional culture.
  • Major regional assets (e.g. Kings Island, CVG)
Yet, I'm always befuddled as well as I puzzle a great conundrum: if Cincinnati is so great, how come it isn't the San Francisco of the Midwest instead of a typical, modestly stagnated Midwestern city?

It just goes to show that what I said in my pecha kucha presentation was true: cities are about people, not just buildings. All the great geography, architecture, etc. in the world isn't a sufficient condition to create a thriving, dynamic city.
One interesting thing is that the author seemed to have made it out the first-and-second suburbs during his visit. He includes some lovely pictures of the likes of downtown Montgomery, Hamilton, and Lebanon. I've always thought that these old town centers - not in the city, but an inseparable part of the metro - were great assets to the region as a whole, and I think this is the first time I've read thoughts along the same lines.

The blog's 21 (at this time) comments debate a number of issues and merit reading too. One midwest hater transplant in particular laments about everyone introducing themselves as a Christian (huh?), and also the bad pollution in the area. I think I've met maybe one person here who quickly proclaimed himself as Christian in all my time here, so I don't know what that's about. Maybe the commenter has just spent too much time around the mega-churches. The air quality could be better, but I know Cincinnati's geography is no help. It also sounds like the commenter is originally from the East Coast, and may dismiss the Midwest as fly-over land.

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