Saturday, June 28, 2008

Big City, Little City, Mega City

A few weeks ago UncleRando at UrbanCincy asked the question "What is a city to you?" I am going to extrapolate on this and ask, "What is a big city to you? I ask this because often when people think of Cincinnati, they think of it as a small city. They do so I think because of the context and definition that any city outside of NYC, Chicago, and LA is just a small town. This context I believe often stems from those who have lived in cities the size of Cincinnati their entire lives. Be it someone from Cleveland, Atlanta, Tampa, Denver, or Phoenix. I believe the false perception they acquire is that success and growth can only be achieved on a bigger stage or in this context a larger city. They then perceive where live as a small town. That is not unique to Cincinnati, but we have many shining examples of it. To a degree this is also influence by the notion of kids growing up and wanting to leave home, and thus leave the city they grew up in, but that spills over into wanting something "bigger," therefore a mega city is what they think they need.

I'm from a small city. It had a population of about 35,000 when I lived there and it is down to about 30,000 18 years later. For the Couty I grew up in it's MSA has around 133,000 people in it, a number also down. In another comparison, Hamilton county's land size is about 413 square miles, while Chautauqua county (where I grew up) is well more than three times the size at 1,500 square miles. I have two points: 1) My town is shrinking far more than Cincinnati, and 2) I lived in a small city. I knew basically everyone who was withing 3 years of my age. I went to school with nearly all of them. That is the definition of a small city.

Cincinnati is a big city. No matter how much people want to paint this area as a small town, it is not. Also, just to be clear, I am talking about the entire metro area, not just the actual city, but even there, we are still a big city.

What Cincinnati is not a mega city, on that much everyone should be clear. 100 years ago Cincinnati was a mega city, which I believe is why we are a special place still now. We have history and Institutions other cities our size don't have. We are not NYC or Chicago or even Boston or San Francisco. We never will be and I for one don't want us to be, however this city has special qualities that you can't find anywhere else.

I just would like people who live here, especially those who grew up here, to try and see this city from a different perspective. Take off the blinders used by the news media. Ignore the city hates who seek to either build up their own fiefdom out in the outlying areas or those who out to tear down the city from within in in order to enable a futile attempt to gain political power.

The first step is attitude. Don't expect things are going to stay they same, unless you are going to sit back and let them. All you have to is walk, run, ride the bus, hop in your car, or someday ride the streetcar and try out something new in your Big City.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be an idiot or your post will be deleted.