Major Midwestern Rustbelt cities will not get fully integrated into the new economy without major investments in public infrastructure–namely roads, bridges, high-speed rail and transit. Period. The economic leverage points are everywhere– talent, finance, Eds&Meds, etc.), but they simply aren’t connected in a modern, strategic way.
Millennium Park in Chicago is one of the outstanding public spaces in the U.S. There is something magical about great “urban” parks. The people who use them seem to attack the spaces with a purpose and vigor. You can almost feel their anticipation as they approach a statue, a green space, or a gathering area. A few minutes at Millennium Park is all you need to know that it is a special place, whether you are a foreign tourist, a city dweller, a worker on your break, or a wide-eyed child in the big city.
While many public policy makers rightfully clamor for more regional collaboration of governmental services, we can’t lose site of the fact that the act of placemaking remains a local one. Creating great spaces, locally driven economies, and energetic cities can’t be done from a state capitol or from Washington.