Aug 27, 2014

We're #17, We're #17

Calgary's Peace Bridge. 
Well the New York Times list of 52 Places to go in 2014 was released early this year. Amazingly there is only one Canadian place directly referenced (Niagara Falls comes under the Niagara Falls NY listing). And guess what?  It is not Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal (I would have included Halifax though). No, the only Canadian destination is YYC. Seems we are no longer “ho-hum city on the prairie”, having “morphed into a cultural hub, with offerings far beyond the stampede”.  And the photo highlighting our transformation?  The Peace Bridge.
Plensa's Mesh Head sculpture in front of the Bow building.

It is impossible to put a value on spectacular functional infrastructure, but the Peace Bridge is the most visual piece of marketing we have ever had.  The Plensa sculpture in front of the Bow is also mentioned, highlighting the cultural renaissance that is getting the city noticed.

So we can celebrate being #17, as the NY Times did not say the number had any ranking merit. There are some places in the listing I have never heard of; have visited; don’t like and would never go back to; and many places I would love to get to.

Who could argue with Vienna (#46).  I have friends there and the city is the equal to Paris with much simpler politics. Atlanta?  Not so sure. Spent some time there helping out the planning department and looking at a possible move, but there is a city with unrealized potential and do they have a hotel with fewer than 1,000 rooms? And if you want to see why you don’t put plazas on corners at the base of office towers (or most other buildings), go to Atlanta on a really hot and humid august day.

Dubai made the list at #23. Well any major city without an underground sewer system where hundreds upon hundreds of trucks ship raw sewage out to the desert every day probably should not be on the list.

Indianapolis (#34) is there and deservedly.  I know Indy well and wrote about their new $63 million Cultural Trail earlier in the year.  So here is an example where investment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is a sound economic benefit that gets a lot of attention. It is also a place where Unigov, the amalgamation of the County and City occurred about 40 years ago to give the City the competitive advantage it has over so many other second tier cities.  And we could learn from their efforts to brand themselves as the amateur sports capital of North America, having hosted the Pan Am games, world gymnastics and rowing championships and home of the NCAA - meaning they get the Final Four basketball championship more often (a huge, huge economic generator).

I understand Ecuador (#7) and hope to go there for Christmas, but Frankfurt (maybe you have been there and feel the same)? I cannot support Rotterdam (#10). I had a right hand drive classic Mercedes shipped from England and the boat went through Rotterdam where the motor car was vandalized, so they are off my list. And downtown L.A. comes in at #5, a place that has certainly transformed its’ image.

It is terrific to make the NY Times for reasons other than the Keystone Pipeline and having their editors cite YYC in a list of some amazing places is not only something to feel great about, it is also advertising we could not buy and affirms that the city is diversifying.

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