Theory of urban renewal espoused by the State of Michigan and other places, inspired by the book, The Rise of the Creative Class. This theory states that the way to prevent brain drain and the flight of the middle class out of our cities is to provide a culturally stimulating, multicultural atmosphere similar to that found in San Francisco, downtown Manhattan, Austin, Texas, and Boston, and ride the high seas of the New Economy. You know, lots of Wi-Fi coffee bars, art galleries, an Urban Outfitters, IKEA, clubs with one-word names, and the like, along with scads of gentrification apartments just waiting for those wacky meritocrats, the Bobos, and the New Digerati to decide to settle down for awhile, get each other pregnant, and raise kids. (Or, for completeness's sake, find a good domestic partner, and settle down to raise Tonkinese and start an antique shop.) A young, highly-trained workforce means higher tax revenues and less of a drain on the welfare system, while the businesses that cater to them create more jobs for chambermaids, sales help, baristas, and other service positions for those who aren't quite so fortunate as to have been born after 1976 to professional parents. This will only help to generate even more revenue, and so on. Eventually, this would, in theory, translate to an improved sense of community, a strong urban infrastructure, better schools, and compassionate help for the urban poor.

Unfortunately, this neglects the fact that there are already people living there, businesses that have already made their mark, and urban institutions that don't need changing. In an already-cool city, you can expect to find such landmark businesses as a 50 (or 60 or some-odd) year-old hotdog stand notable for its homemade relish and use of locally produced wurst, an occult bookstore (with a kick-ass hoodoo department) that has shared a building with a Catholic religious-goods shop since the early 1970's, or a thriving local-music club that just happens to have been carved out of an old WT Grant's discount store in 1980, and still jumps every Saturday night. In a Cooling City, expect all four businesses to be driven out of their locations in order to be replaced by a) The Doghouse, (based Somewhere Else) which promises a Gourmet Hotdog Experience with options for SkinnyPuppies, Vegan Bean Barkers, and The Classic American Dog, b)a not-so-dusty "metaphysical boutique" run by clueless Instant Witches who believe that the Kabbalah was invented by Madonna and Aleister Crowley lived somewhere in the 1970's (the Catholic store, alas, is gone), and c) Venue, a disco with 200 beers and the warmth and soul of an oil refinery staffed by robots. Since a Cool City (as opposed to a cool city) runs mostly on image, the service positions tend to go to young, thin, people who skate multiculturalism by looking and acting fairly whitebread, meaning, mostly, the kids who're moving in. Ethnic sensitivity tends to mean that the planners have already made up their minds exactly what is to be considered "ethnic" (Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians, yes, Eastern Europeans and Arabs, not so much...), exactly how it's supposed to be catered to (Hispanic Pride parades si!, Oktoberfest no!) and what needs to be done about it, no matter who's actually there. Housing? Well, it's kind of nice to see the clean new apartment buildings going up where there used to be slums....except that the rent on the new places is two or three times what it was in the slum, and the landlord is now a holding company, not the woman downstairs. The actual population of not-so-cool people (plus, well, a good proportion of the actual bohiemians, ne'er-do-wells, dreamers, drifters, and the like) gets patronized, pushed out, or ignored.

Not that this didn't work, for a time, for one Southern city, if one believes its press releases. Already rich in culture and tradition, though plagued with poverty and other problems, its city fathers mandated a goodly chunk of its available funds (to the detriment of social services and maintaining the infrastructure) burnishing this image, creating hotel space and convention centers to lure visitors, and as of last Spring, they prided themselves on a job well done. This city, as you might guess, was New Orleans.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.