In the last few months, we have been wandering around, and wondering at, some memorable places in some amazing cities. Here are a few more highlights.
Nanjing Road, Shanghai.
Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Your author at lunch, in the Botanic Gardens, Wellington, NZ.
As I have been reflecting on all that we have seen, I have had an idea: I have invented a new game that should be played in our town, or perhaps in yours. It goes like this.
By decree of the Czar, our towns must now retool their economic engines. Whatever drives the economy of your city, of our city, must be changed. Here in Rochester, our economy is driven by health care, educational institutions, the optics industry, the grocery business, and innovation and skills in high-technology processes and manufacturing. But no longer.
The Czar requires that now our economy must be driven principally by tourism. Visitors – lots of them.
In my new game, your city will receive higher and higher points for generating more and more of your tax revenues from tourism. Your city will receive bonus points for each hour that a visitor stays with you.
Perhaps this game will invite us to see our cities differently. What will attract visitors? What will they come to see and do, where will they want to stroll, to linger, to shop for local authenticity, to experience unique Rochester delights? What architecture will they admire, photograph, upload to Flickr? How will they describe the rich urbanism of our place to their friends and family upon their return home? Will our history, and the quirky but extraordinary contributions to our city life by people such as the deservedly revered Albert Stone, be made vivid and accessible?
For us here to stay in this game, we have our work cut out for us. Much of what would easily attract visitors to our place is gone. And many of our best assets are under-utilized, or ignored. So we need a fix-this list, and a make-something-out-of-this list. Get rid of the huge parking lots downtown, and create great places instead. Grab onto the riverfront and make it fabulous. Make it easy for folks to get around. Finally blow up the Inner Loop and make great streets and streetscapes. The list goes on.
Anyway, we have great stuff here, as you must in your city, and we have enormous challenges. Maybe if we put out-of-towner glasses on for a bit, we might see what we already have differently, and find it easier to fix what’s broken.
Our town – Rochester.
Want to buy a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” card?