Tag Archives: tourism

What Can We Learn From the “Ugly” Town of Charleroi?

The Wall Street Journal highlights a city in Belgium where people take tours of sites that include abandoned steel works, slag heaps and unfinished metro stations.

The attraction? The fascination of ugly things, the tour leader tells the paper.

Many thanks to Rust Wire reader and contributor Lewis Lehe for bringing this story to our attention!



Filed under Economic Development, Good Ideas

Businessweek on ‘The Fall of Niagara Falls’

Really interesting article in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek about Niagara Falls, New York, and some of the problems it faces despite being next to what is litterally one of the largest tourist attractions in the world.

The article details how Niagara Falls

“encompasses just about every mistake a city could make… a 1960s mayor’s decision to bulldoze his quaint downtown and replace it with a bunch of modernist follies. There was a massive hangar-like convention center designed by Philip Johnson; Cesar Pelli’s glassy indoor arboretum, the Wintergarden, which was finally torn down because it cost a fortune to heat through the Lake Erie winter; a shiny office building known locally as the “Flashcube,” formerly the headquarters of a chemical company and now home to a trinket market. Once a hydropowered center of industry, Niagara Falls is now one of America’s most infamous victims of urban decay, hollowed out by four decades of job loss, mafia infiltration, political corruption, and failed get-fixed-quick schemes.”

My take-away after reading this article: cities can’t look for ‘silver bullet’ fixes. Convention center. Giant mall. Casinos. Sounds like Niagara Falls has tried everything with little success.

A new mayor has made some folks optimistic, the story explains, by promoting eco-tourism and trying to attract companies that specialize in alternative energy.

What do you think after reading this story?

I’ve been to the Falls a number of times, but always to the Canadian side, never to the New York side.



Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Politics, The Media

Dayton Patented. Originals Wanted.

Can “branding” a city through a snappy slogan and slick marketing campaign work?

A lot of cities apparently think so, including Dayton and Cleveland, as outlined in this USA Today story.

They point to successful and memorable slogans, like “I love New York,” and “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” It’s also interesting to read the comments under the story- on mentions great success North Dakota has had marketing itself as a “Wild West” destination for bicyclists.

The story doesn’t mention less-successful campaigns. (I’m thinking of the Michael Moore movie Roger & Me, when he mocks the marketing campaign Flint undertakes: “Flint: Our New Spark Will Surprise You.”) It does detail the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism video, which Rust Wire previously highlighted.

I’m not sure how much a slogan alone can do without the jobs and attractions to back it up…but I guess a good one can’t hurt.

Have any other Rust Belt cities tried branding like this? Have they had any success?



Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Good Ideas, regionalism

What Do You Wish For Your City In 2010?

I’m going to borrow an idea from this Cleveland Scene article, which asked a number of Clevelanders what they hoped for in 2010 for their city.

Among the responses: safer streets for walkers and cyclists, more neighborhood gardens, more tourists, a sports championship and many more goals.

What do you hope for your city in the coming year?


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Filed under Editorial, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs

Sun Belt States Post High Unemployment Rates

Reuters is running a story about the precipitous job losses in Southern states.


While during the house boom, these states enjoyed relatively low unemployment rates, many have now seen jobless tolls reach the double digits.

Georgia weighs in at 10%; North Carolina, 11%. South Carolina bests them both with 12.1%.

Florida has been especially hard hit because of declines in the tourism industry.

A friend of mine just moved to Charleston and she said the job market there is terrible. Everyone she knows is a server, she said. I was surprised.

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Filed under Featured, The Housing Crisis

Three Days in Baltimore


I just got back from a great weekend in Charm City – also known as Baltimore, Maryland. As someone who is obsessed with The Wire, I had been wanting to check out the city for myself for quite some time – and I wasn’t disappointed (though I didn’t get to see Jimmy McNulty).

We started the weekend in our friend’s neighborhood, Mt. Vernon. The blocks around where our friend lives seem pretty nice, but only a few streets away, on the other side of a highway was a seriously underprivileged neighborhood of boarded-up rowhouses. It was strange to see the two areas juxtaposed so close to each other.

We had a dinner at an amazing Afghan restaurant.


On Friday, we walked around the Inner Harbor area (touristy, I know) and visited the National Aquarium.

Then we headed over to the Fell’s Point neighborhood. It was interesting to read about how this area was almost destroyed in the mid 1960s to make room for an eight-lane highway. This historic area is now considered one of the most beautiful spots in the city, chock full of shops and restaurants on brick-lined streets.

Gelato, a great mid-afternoon snack:


A Fell’s Point landmark- fans of the TV show Homicide will recognize this building:


We walked along the water, next to some expensive looking condos:




That night, we explored another neighborhood – Hampden, which is known as the setting of many a John Waters film. In an antique/ junk shop, I found some great old political buttons to add to my collection.

We also visited Atomic Books for a book signing for the newly-released Moon Handbooks Guide to Baltimore. The author, a former editor of Baltimore Magazine made a good point: most non-Baltimoreans know the city from one of two things, either the movie Hairspray, or The Wire. Both of these things are true, and certainly represent facets of Baltimore. But there’s much more to the city than that.

On Saturday, we went to the Museum of Industry.


We ended the night watching the O’s beat the Atlanta Braves at Camden Yards:


Before we left on Sunday morning, we shopped at the bustling Baltimore Farmers’ Market.

Things I didn’t get to do and will have to save for my next trip: the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, the Peabody Library, Little Italy, and more.


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Filed under Featured, The Big Urban Photography Project

Pittsburgh capitalizing on its unglamorous reputation

“VisitPittsburgh is now marketing the city as a glamorless destination for the post-luxury age,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.


“‘Nobody is going to raise their eyebrows when you book your conference in Pittsburgh,’ said Craig Davis, vice president of sales and marketing for the region’s official tourism agency.

‘Why risk the possible issue of booking in what would be considered a resorty type of destination when you can get all you need in Pittsburgh?’

The thinking goes that if financial institution Wells Fargo had planned its employee rewards trip to Pittsburgh instead of Las Vegas after the federal bailout, no one would have balked,” the paper reports.

“VisitPittsburgh is hoping for a repeat of 2008, which was a record year for conventions at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The center hosted 49 conventions, up from 38 in 2007.”

Well, I personally would rather visit Pittsburgh over Vegas any day.

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Filed under Economic Development