|Panorama of Downtown Chicago from the Chicago River. Source: wikipedia.org|
I’ve developed a reputation on this blog for my writings on my hometown, Detroit. Without a doubt, growing up in Detroit is the singular thing that crystallized my interest in cities and their revitalization.
But the truth of the matter is, while I visit Detroit regularly, I moved away a long time ago. Since moving away, I lived in Muncie, IN and Bloomington, IN (attending Indiana University), before settling in on my home of the last 26 years, Chicago.
I know Detroit well; I can rely on the memories of my youth, observations from frequent visits and research from myriad sources. But I really know Chicago, personally and professionally, much, much better.
If that’s the case, readers may wonder, why the general exclusion of Chicago in most of your discussions about Rust Belt cities? Well, throughout my career I’ve worked for municipal planning departments in the Chicagoland area (large and small) and for consulting firms that were quite reliant on municipal contracts. I didn’t want to write anything that would upset city or suburban interests, ultimately impacting my ability or my employers’ ability to work in this metro area.
I’ve decided that now I’ll wade gingerly into discussions that are of great interest in Chicago. When stories like Chicago’s crime or education issues have risen to national prominence, I’ve written about them. But other matters, like bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue, for example, or Chicago’s global status compared to other American cities, or the city’s stark divide between its prosperous downtown and lakefront and its struggling edges, will start to get attention here.
The focus of this blog — Rust Belt cities — will remain the same. I’ll just be more diligent in including Chicago in the mix. Look for more soon.