Monday, June 27, 2011

Stu Bykofsky wishes for the devastation of Philadelphia

Weird little column from Stu Bykofsky this morning, wishing that Philadelphia would be a little more like...Detroit:
Unlike Philadelphia, Detroit's business community is as galvanized and aggressively optimistic as a Disney theme park.

Over the weekend, members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists were bombarded by some biggies from the past, the Big Three automakers, and the future, Quicken Loans, which just brought 1,600 high-tech jobs to downtown - and will add an equal number in the months ahead, jobs dragged from the suburbs because its young staff wanted to be where the action is.

The action is still modest, but the downtown bowl has new buildings, refurbished hotels, casinos and a Hard Rock Cafe. But drive just one mile east and there are block-long gaps where buildings once stood, where neighborhoods died. The city is toying with the idea of growing farms within the city limits.

Ideas like that are far more revolutionary, made necessary by necessity, than Philadelphia's bike lanes. Ideas like that are born of a desperation that has not yet gripped Philadelphia. Maybe it should.
Yes: Byko is saying that Philadelphia would benefit from almost complete and utter economic devastation—something that (like Detroit) would cause us to lose two-thirds of our population and leave the rest desperate and scraping along for survival. Maybe then we could attract more artist/hipster types to the city core? That sounds like what he's saying.

Hey Stu: We already have a Hard Rock Cafe.

I've heard local folks make the Philadelphia-Detroit comparison before—though not quite with Byko's apparent enthusiasm—and I think it's wrong. Philadelphia, these days, isn't quite so dependent on any single industry the way Detroit was for a long time: We've already largely experienced our industrial collapse, but in stages—it was unpleasant, but it didn't bring down the city with it. What's more, we have geography on our side—we're part of an urban ecosystem: New York-Philly-Baltimore-D.C. are all in relative proximity to each other; some folks here commute to NYC every day. Detroit is more physically isolated.

In any case, I don't think Stu really wants Philadelphia to have a near-death experience. If he does, he's an insane, evil madman who doesn't deserve a column. Mostly, I think he went to a convention in Detroit and had to come up with a column for Monday's newspaper somehow. This is what we got.

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