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kayman

Discussion: Should Birmingham try to mirror itself after Pittsburgh?

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Honestly, I believe we should because we can't emulate Atlanta or Miami because we have a more established urban core than those cities like Memphis and New Orleans. We were known as the "Pittsburgh of the South" for a number of years and to this very day we do mirror that city because the both of us have major biomedical/biotech infastructure due to major university(s), an establish financial sector, strong medical sector, and a heavy industry past. However, we should continue to find our own somewhat separate from this city because imitation is the highest form of flattery, but duplication is insulting yourself.

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I don't know if we they should. Really, the cities are a lot alike. Both have, like you said, big research industries and such. Both are declining in Proper population, and both have large metro areas for their city proper size. But, I don't know if Pittsburgh is the best choice.

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I don't know if we they should. Really, the cities are a lot alike. Both have, like you said, big research industries and such. Both are declining in Proper population, and both have large metro areas for their city proper size. But, I don't know if Pittsburgh is the best choice.

Well, Pittsburgh economy is booming I know that, and it has been at its best of the past decades. Also they have a mass transit system that includes all aspects subway, LRT, and tramway in addition to a county-wide bus system all ran by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. That is mass transit aspect is something I really wish Birmingham would learn to implement from a city like Pittsburgh considering the terrains of the 2 regions are identical beside the 3 rivers of Pittsburgh. I say they would the best choice simply because they are not trying to become something obviously isn't like Philly, DC, or NYC. Most other cities in the South are wannabe Atlantas and that is just detrimental to their overall future and character if they saw how sterile Atlanta really is.

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I agree Pittsburgh's economy is booming. One of my friends lives just outside of Pittsburgh in Cheswick. I just think that Birmingham should choose a city that has more of a growing population to try and mirror. Pittsburgh is of course an obvious choice, no way to deny that, the steel industry and all. But, I think a city like Nashville. Growing population, I don't know about traffic, mass transit.

Pittsburgh does have all that except for the population growth. I'd like to see both of these areas grow in population, but, it seems like more of an economic growth in the future.

Also, according to my friend that lives in Cheswick. The subways are dirt and grungy, but the buses are, OK. She wasn't to impressed with any of it.

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Birmingham could the unique paradox to this pattern of urban development. On the mass transit, that is up to the individual cities perception in general from what the person is used to. Like for instance, numerous people say that DC's Metro subway is dirty and dangerous when it is in fact very clean, decent looking, and safe system considering its age and other cities that are smaller like Atlanta (who MARTA isn't as well-patrolled). However, I know it is doubtful if Birmingham would ever get a subway aspect due to the underground caverns in the region. Back to topic, Birmingham is growing unlike its identical cousin Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is just trying to retain what they have and stablize their economy, but Birmingham is on the upswing and we should use Pittsburgh as a catalyst to learn for their mistakes and not repeat those here. Thus, we could make Birmingham into a world-class city that it should be.

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Birmingham could the unique paradox to this pattern of urban development. On the mass transit, that is up to the individual cities perception in general from what the person is used to. Like for instance, numerous people say that DC's Metro subway is dirty and dangerous when it is in fact very clean, decent looking, and safe system considering its age and other cities that are smaller like Atlanta (who MARTA isn't as well-patrolled). However, I know it is doubtful if Birmingham would ever get a subway aspect due to the underground caverns in the region. Back to topic, Birmingham is growing unlike its identical cousin Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is just trying to retain what they have and stablize their economy, but Birmingham is on the upswing and we should use Pittsburgh as a catalyst to learn for their mistakes and not repeat those here. Thus, we could make Birmingham into a world-class city that it should be.

All true. I like the DC Metro, I loved riding on it as a kid when we'd go visit my aunt in Alexandria, my uncle was in the Navy so the move around a lot. Now they live in Atlanta, and we take the MARTA into town.

Birmingham's economy doesn't seem to be slowing down at all, very right about that. You're also very corrent thtat Bham should try to learn from Pitt's mistakes. But, while we should learn from their mistakes, I don't think we should try to mirror them. IMO, mirroring implies that you try to do what they do. In this case, that could be a big mistake by Bham. I just think a more progressive in economic and population growth such as Nashville or Charlotte would be a better choice considering their already booming economies, and brand new above ground commuter rails.

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All true. I like the DC Metro, I loved riding on it as a kid when we'd go visit my aunt in Alexandria, my uncle was in the Navy so the move around a lot. Now they live in Atlanta, and we take the MARTA into town.

Birmingham's economy doesn't seem to be slowing down at all, very right about that. You're also very corrent thtat Bham should try to learn from Pitt's mistakes. But, while we should learn from their mistakes, I don't think we should try to mirror them. IMO, mirroring implies that you try to do what they do. In this case, that could be a big mistake by Bham. I just think a more progressive in economic and population growth such as Nashville or Charlotte would be a better choice considering their already booming economies, and brand new above ground commuter rails.

The unfortunate thing about both Nashville and Charlotte is they are trying to emulate Atlanta down to a tee. Sprawl in both places are out of control and their urban cores both look very sterile (like I mentioned above). They are beacons of progress for the South but they are also symbols of what happens when urban renewal goes too far to the point it kills the city's character (Charlotte more than Nashville) and when overall density goes down. That's why I say Birmigham shouldn't follow their leads, trust me if CLT and NSH aren't careful it will lead to their own demise. Birmingham should distinguish it self from them and show them both that you can maintain your character while progress, something no city in the South has yet to accomplish. Like I said before, I have a feeling the mass transit system situation will see a major change in the next year. We are finally making some progress on regional cooperation involving that. :thumbsup:

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The unfortunate thing about both Nashville and Charlotte is they are trying to emulate Atlanta down to a tee. Sprawl in both places are out of control and their urban cores both look very sterile (like I mentioned above). They are beacons of progress for the South but they are also symbols of what happens when urban renewal goes too far to the point it kills the city's character (Charlotte more than Nashville) and when overall density goes down. That's why I say Birmigham shouldn't follow their leads, trust me if CLT and NSH aren't careful it will lead to their own demise. Birmingham should distinguish it self from them and show them both that you can maintain your character while progress, something no city in the South has yet to accomplish. Like I said before, I have a feeling the mass transit system situation will see a major change in the next year. We are finally making some progress on regional cooperation involving that. :thumbsup:

I know it's so trendy around sites like these to consider most things new as "sterille" or "characterless" but it's pretty overblown to call Nashville's core as either of those adjectives. Check out one of Lexy's recent photos.

66950712.vqm9Txc8.anashvillepano1.jpg

What I see is a great mix of new (BellSouth, GEC, Viridian, LP Field, etc.) and old (TN Capitol, Ryman, Union Station, Custom House, Cumming Station, 2nd Ave.). In fact, I believe Nashville is one of the few Southern cities of its size that has actually managed to preserve its character while keeping a keen eye towards the future. Witness the new Symphony Hall as a prime example. Nashville was undoubtedly victim to quite a bit of urban renewal but they also managed to preserve some real gems and plenty of those surface lots are quickly turning into great projects. In a number of areas, it is a city Birmingham should emulate.

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The unfortunate thing about both Nashville and Charlotte is they are trying to emulate Atlanta down to a tee. Sprawl in both places are out of control and their urban cores both look very sterile (like I mentioned above). They are beacons of progress for the South but they are also symbols of what happens when urban renewal goes too far to the point it kills the city's character (Charlotte more than Nashville) and when overall density goes down. That's why I say Birmigham shouldn't follow their leads, trust me if CLT and NSH aren't careful it will lead to their own demise. Birmingham should distinguish it self from them and show them both that you can maintain your character while progress, something no city in the South has yet to accomplish. Like I said before, I have a feeling the mass transit system situation will see a major change in the next year. We are finally making some progress on regional cooperation involving that. :thumbsup:

I think what should be done is for the city of Birmingham to create a fictional city. A mix of the good things from Pitt, Nash, and Charlotte. Cause, no city is perfect. But, those cities, have great things going on in their town. A city with the combo of the following would be great:

The comeback from the steel industry like Pittsburgh.

The economic expansion of Charlotte.

The growth of everything of Nashville that still has southern charm.

We still need a city that has sprawl controlled to put in there though.

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I just got back from a trip to Pittsburgh recently, and while there my exact thought was "So this is what Birmingham would have been like if it had rivers." The topography is very similar, though the mountains are a bit more tightly packed a a bit more steep. I would almost consider Pittsburgh to be a "hidden gem" of a city. Riding the incline up to the top of Mount Washington to drink a beer and stare down at the city, the rivers, and the stadiums was one of the best afternoons I have had anywhere.

The city is indeed a good example to follow, but there are numerous differences good and bad:

Similarities:

Obviously the history in the Steel Industry, with both growing out of that into finance, insurance and health.

Topography, as mentioned

Many universities (though admittedly Pittsburgh seems to have more, and some larger universities)

Different areas of town are essentially defined by the mountains that seperate them

They both have certain "gritty blue collar" attitude and appearance, which is both good and bad at times.

Love for football.

Differences:

Pittsburgh is much more dense and has more historic structures and districts

The rivers and less developable mountains make Pittsburgh's neighborhoods more dense.

The bus system seemed much more commonly used there. (the rail lines were not noticable)

Pittsburgh has a very old population, and is trying to attract more young people.

All of this to say, there is no one city to mimic, but many to learn from. Here is a short list, of things to learn from other cities that I have lived in or spent at least a few days exploring:

Pittsburgh - how to change the image for dirty industrial to clean and modern while embracing the history. The city seems to be leading the charge in green building, and has done a good job of revitalizing historic areas into nightlife districts without sapping them of their uniqueness.

Nashville - how to attract "the creative class" while still being true the region. I would have to disagree with the previous comment on Nashville mimicing Atlanta. I don't see the sprawl there, or the corporatizing of everything, and aiming to be big just to be big. Nashville is making its downtown into a destination and true city center, both for tourist and locals. Plus, areas like Hillsboro Village, East Nashville, "the Gulch", and Music Row are becoming both areas to live in and visit.

Denver (where I live now) - How to turn old industrial areas into part of the city center. (a much needed effort in Bham) Many of the old warehouse districts are being reborn into true neighborhoods. Downtown is surrounded by industrial areas (much like Bham), so several progressive developers have taken first steps to create new markets for housing, office, and retail development. Also, the city has adopted the idea of a citywide lightrail system. Two lines are now up, with several others on the way. They are well used by commuters. Downtown is the central destination of all the lines, so mass transit only helps the city center grow.

My main concern for Birmingham is that I don't think that many (or at least most) people in the area view downtown as the heart of the city. Until this perception changes, I think it will be difficult to see great development occur there. Many people much prefer to work, live, and seek entertainment outside of the historic areas. It at least appears to me that people around Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Denver do view the city center as the place that matters most to the city's health.

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Couldn't have said it better myself. I do beleive that the people of Birmingham have a much more, without being to blunt, selfish attitude when it comes to things of the city. We all know that the Southern Charm is real but where is the cooperation among the important groups in the city to get things done quickly. I beleive there is a lot of distrust in the city between the leaders. There are some stubborn attitudes among the areas leadership. For a lot of those guys it is "my way or the highway", and that is why Birmingham is so divided when compared to other cities. I can't say for sure where all of the distrust stems from. If they don't get their act together in the next few years in B-ham the whole state will be looking at a new forward thinking, economic leading city for guidance.

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The unfortunate thing about both Nashville and Charlotte is they are trying to emulate Atlanta down to a tee. Sprawl in both places are out of control and their urban cores both look very sterile (like I mentioned above). They are beacons of progress for the South but they are also symbols of what happens when urban renewal goes too far to the point it kills the city's character (Charlotte more than Nashville) and when overall density goes down. That's why I say Birmigham shouldn't follow their leads, trust me if CLT and NSH aren't careful it will lead to their own demise. Birmingham should distinguish it self from them and show them both that you can maintain your character while progress, something no city in the South has yet to accomplish. Like I said before, I have a feeling the mass transit system situation will see a major change in the next year. We are finally making some progress on regional cooperation involving that. :thumbsup:

Charlotte has not been trying to emulate Atlanta for quite some time, and I doubt that Nashville has either. Yes there is the sprawl present, but I think you are referring to a phenom of mainly the 80's and 90's, at least in Charlotte. Charlotte now has a commendable, though young, transit plan that should shape growth patterns better for transit oriented denser development. You've probably seen the number of buildings and projects in it's center around that on this site. If anyone is emulating Atlanta in terms of sprawl, lets pick on the real offenders, who can remain nameless.

Can't really argue with you about urban renewal causing the razing of some fine older buildings, but that has hopefully come to a stop (crossing fingers), and definitely Birmingham has a lot of older buildings that have a lot of charm. From what I know 1st person of Nashville, it does not seem to have the necessary density for mass transit to do well, but the fact it has built a line anyway may slowly change that. If it doesn't go broke it will have a headstart there. Birmingham, because it had a relative high population in it's past, should have the infrastructure and urban design more in place than CLT and NSH did for denser growth, not sure what your attitudes there are for transit.

Anyway, I don't think you can argue that either of these cities are emulating Atlanta to a tee, that would be completely ignoring everything it has done wrong - I'm pretty sure they are not doing that. Honestly, I don't know what either of them would want to emulate regarding Atlanta, other than to be major cities and well known. In that I'm sure Birmingham is no different.

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Tuesday during the Birmingham City Council meeting, the Greater Birmigham Chamber of Commerce made the proposal to the redevelop the city's brownfield sites like the old Ensley Mill, former steel mill in Titusville, and many others. There have been proposals by 2 private developers from outside the region who expressed interest within hours of the immediate announcement. The idea was inspired by how Pittsburgh has redeveloped many of its brownfields sites into projects such as Heinz Field, PNC Park, and major mixed-used projects..

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If anyone is emulating Atlanta in terms of sprawl, lets pick on the real offenders, who can remain nameless.

And for that matter Atlanta isn't sprawling in any unique way. It's further along than Birmingham, Nashville or Charlotte, sure. But since World War II, it and almost every other American city has emulated patterns set in postwar Long Island and the San Fernando Valley.

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SweetHomeColorado, I just moved back to Birmingham from Denver, and I really hope I made the right choice. The real estate market was actually not that great in Denver -- too flooded with properties, so I'm hoping to take advantage of my friends getting married in Birmingham. ;)

That being said, Denver was an INCREDIBLY functional city, that I don't think would survive without its revamped RTD mass transit system. They linked outlying cities to the core, and convinced everyday people to ride. This is something that I wish could be hammered into the brains of Birmingham's citizens. Poor people aren't the only ones riding anymore...

I guess I should have posted this in the mass transit thread, but I just think that Birmingham isn't going to change until the citizens work together and get some balls.

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SweetHomeColorado, I just moved back to Birmingham from Denver, and I really hope I made the right choice. The real estate market was actually not that great in Denver -- too flooded with properties, so I'm hoping to take advantage of my friends getting married in Birmingham. ;)

That being said, Denver was an INCREDIBLY functional city, that I don't think would survive without its revamped RTD mass transit system. They linked outlying cities to the core, and convinced everyday people to ride. This is something that I wish could be hammered into the brains of Birmingham's citizens. Poor people aren't the only ones riding anymore...

I guess I should have posted this in the mass transit thread, but I just think that Birmingham isn't going to change until the citizens work together and get some balls.

The main problem is that there is very little funding for mass transit. The city has to come up with the money. The state can't fund it with gas tax.

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The main problem is that there is very little funding for mass transit. The city has to come up with the money. The state can't fund it with gas tax.

Am I mistaken to say this has to do with the current state constitution? Isn't there something that is blocking ALDOT from contributing to anything but road construction and maintenance?

Why we don't rewrite that thing is a mystery to me...

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Lack of support from the state legislature to allow the rewriting of the state constitution. There was a bill this past session but it died because Jim Pruitt from Talladega keep blocking it from the floor for discussion. He is a NOTORIOUS supporter of Alabama Farmers Association (ALFA) who are main lobbist group that is blocking the state from rewriting the constitution. Also, I like to add the Alabama Road Builders Association, the former known Alabama Christian Coalition, and forestry companies like Kimberly Clark.

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Yea, it seems, that since we've alread Amended our constitution a full 770+ times, we could add something about mass transit funding, but, it ain't happening. People need to wake up. Alabama isn't some sleepy little state anymore.

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Ok here's a list of things Birmingham should focus on in order to expand it's tourist base/quality of life/total economy:

1) Transportation

Mass transit needs to be thoroughly expanded to the area that most need it. Things such as inner-city rail, busing with central terminals/hubs, and basic other modes of transportation.

HOV lanes, park and rides, expanded interstates (on a moderate scale). Not only to these things improve the quality of life and encourage people to consolidate rides and thus reduce pollution, it beats the current traffic problem to a pulp. The more we combine rides, and reduce the amount of errand trips we take, the better.

2) Education/Healthcare

Massive funding is all I can say. Keep shoving money towards things that we know will always have a use, and things that save lives. Funding this will give young people a reason to come to Alabama, they'll feel good about a future here because they'll know that they'll always have a job.

Education really needs to be ramped up. Without a good education system, Birmingham cannot expect to keep the population that it still has. I'm sure that's the main reason some people move out of town, because they fear their children haven't gotten the same good education that they could have in other school systems. This needs to be funded, and watched, and then changes need to be made considering what people have seen while watching grades, and test scores.

3) Tourism

Lord, tourism is something that Birmingham has a great potential to have. Sure, B'ham gets tourists, but, no where near as much as it could. A lot of people don't realize what kinds of things that the city is missing out on, as far as tourists go. When I'm in band, and where thinking about places to go for our Spring Trip, the thought does not pop into our mind,"Gee, why not Birmingham!?" Mainly because, the city doesn't do a good job a marketing what great things are in town. When you think Birmingham, you have and, "Ummm......." moment, trying to think of what there is to do, then, FINALLY, it pops into your head.

What needs to be done is expanding current tourist draws and marketing the ones that the city already has. Sporting events, music concerts, museum, all of these things need to be expanded. The city needs more of these things in order to attract people. As people come to town to see these sports, concerts, and museums they'll see the outter shell of town, they'll like what they see, then they'll want to come back and see more of what the city has to offer.

The city has such a large history, that it'd be criminal not to showcase it. Birmingham has gone through some major wars with itself, and it pretty much eating itself trying to transform it's economy. If we show people all of these things, and how Birmingham has re-invented itself, they'll want to know more, and keep coming back.

Grand entrances. The city needs to put some kind of arch on each interstate coming in and out of town saying something like, "Welcome to Birmingham, the original Magic City," and on your way out you see something to the effect to, "We hope your day was Magical, thanx for visiting The Ham." I've seen these types of things in other cities, especially Orlando. They give you goose bumps just looking at them, you know that you're going to see something good after you see those. At the moment, you drive into this dirty looking portion of northern Birmingham on 65, and you can't decide whether or not this is somewhere you want to even look out the window of your car.

I realize that all of this sounds, and is costly. But, how is the city going to get where it wants to go if it doesn't do what it needs to?

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These efforts are being attempted such as finding efficient funding for the BJCTA to be expanded into BARTA or something of that sorts. However, until the legislators concentrate on trying to work together cohesively then something will happen with this situation. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping they come with something that actually works.

The new superintendent Mims is actively working on this plan of fixing the Birmingham School District. He has a good track record of fixing systems that were in just as bad or even worse condition such as East St. Louis, IL and The Bronx. The problem is the school district has too many schools so the consolidation of more schools will have to occur. Once this consolidation is complete, I believe that Mims will attempt to accomplish improving the school system's test scores.

The Greater Birmingham Conventions & Vistors Bureau is supposed to have begun a campaign like this back April, but you see how far that has gone. I wish they would keep their word for once an actually try to market and promote Birmingham. :angry:

There are signs like this on most of the secondary highways entering the city, but I'm not too sure as to why there aren't any on the freeway entering the city.

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These efforts are being attempted such as finding efficient funding for the BJCTA to be expanded into BARTA or something of that sorts. However, until the legislators concentrate on trying to work together cohesively then something will happen with this situation. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping they come with something that actually works.

The new superintendent Mims is actively working on this plan of fixing the Birmingham School District. He has a good track record of fixing systems that were in just as bad or even worse condition such as East St. Louis, IL and The Bronx. The problem is the school district has too many schools so the consolidation of more schools will have to occur. Once this consolidation is complete, I believe that Mims will attempt to accomplish improving the school system's test scores.

The Greater Birmingham Conventions & Vistors Bureau is supposed to have begun a campaign like this back April, but you see how far that has gone. I wish they would keep their word for once an actually try to market and promote Birmingham. :angry:

There are signs like this on most of the secondary highways entering the city, but I'm not too sure as to why there aren't any on the freeway entering the city.

The problem that's going to happen with any city that is losing population is this. As people move out of town, the city slowly gets less and less and less densly populated, so the population is more spread out. That creates a problem, these high schools get further from people that go to them. But, you can never help this, cause you can't satisfy either side, so that stinks.

But, besides the fact that, that paragraph had vitually no point............

Yea, the whole state has been really bad about not nationalizing these ad campaigns. They are great, let me re-iderate (sp?) GREAT, but, no one in the Birmingham area needs to hear AGAIN that Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue on earth when they live next door to it. It just doesn't help to market it to the nearly 2 million people in the Birmingham area market. People in places like Miami, New Orleans, San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix, Seattle, New York, Baltimore, and Cleveland need to hear these wonderful things. They'll think, "Wow, I didn't know that Birmingham had that, let alone that they even existed." Cause at youth conferences I've been to with kids from all over the country, some kids didn't even know that there was a city named Birmingham in the U.S. It's scary. The city needs to market what it's got to get more.

Now, when I talk about a welcome and "thanx for visiting" arch. I'm talken something that spans the width of the interstates, something colorful that you can't miss. Or something like metalic with steely colors. That is something that will stick in people's minds, they won't forget something that is nice and good looking out of the dirty industrial surroundings.

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i really have no desire to get into a back-and-forth on the merits of 'welcome' signs or attempts to create visual landmarks, but typically they are a good indication that the area they are welcoming you to has insufficient visual appeal to do the same job on its own. auburn has the stupid red brick 'gate' signs at the entries to town, and they only serve to emphasize that the town lacks a transitional feel.

tucson just killed a nutzo proposal for an enormous spiral arch (nicknamed the 'rainbow bridge') that would have straddled interstate 10 near the downtown area. this structure would have housed a building suspended above the roadway and allowed pedestrians to walk across it, but the renderings helpfully illustrated the lunacy of the design. it looked like a grandly feeble attempt to make drivers feel like they were arriving somewhere, when in fact the moment of arrival (given tucson's complete absence of a skyline or large-scale visual markers) is over the second you drive under the bridge.

bham has a richness of experience that, IMHO, obviates the need for welcome signage beyond the 'city limits' markers. that feeling of transition - that you are arriving in the city; in that part where things are happening, has to occur in a greater period of transition (whether in a car or on foot or in a plane above) than any single landmark can provide, no matter how well-executed. in bham, those transitional areas do not coincide with the city limits, but where they are, they're effective in a way that signs and gates and archways and all the rest of it could never be.

example: new orleans. where are the significant welcome points there? even the bridges are unspectacular. but you know when you've gotten there. and it feels old-soul electric - no beacon needed.

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i really have no desire to get into a back-and-forth on the merits of 'welcome' signs or attempts to create visual landmarks, but typically they are a good indication that the area they are welcoming you to has insufficient visual appeal to do the same job on its own.

Concur but with different rationale. Man-made landmarks can and do add value to a city, well executed of course. Would Dallas or Houston have their remarkable architecture if they sat in hilly, varied topography? That's debatable. Bridges can either be utilitarian or make a visual statement. I'd argue that Vulcan adds rather than diminishes Red Mountain.

No, the worst thing about going overboard with welcome signs, freeway-spanning arches, massive gates of gold and whatnot is that they scream DESPERATION. And is desperation ever attractive? Only to those eager to take advantage, but industrial incentives are another topic.

What WOULD do it for me coming into Birmingham would be:

1) Doing so on well-engineered freeway alignments with user-friendly interchanges and exits, useful information on electronic notice boards, effective lighting, consistent paving, practical speed limits and law enforcement. This is a hardcore infrastructure investment, not a coat of varnish. It's about the real preparation to handle current and future needs, and as a by product, exhibiting that commitment and preparation to investors, visitors and such (and not to mention making life a little easier for the taxpaying residents). Don't screw up the northern beltline or the I-22 interchange, and fix Malfunction Junction.

2) Clear and useful directional signage to destinations. Here's where you get your benefit from the big welcome sign concept - rather than make a generic Birmingham is Great! statement, show what is great about it, what it has to offer. By clear and useful I mean something along the lines of " ^ Birmingham Zoo 5 mi", "> Vulcan 7.5 mi", "< Legion Field 1.5 mi", and so on. Pick a few colors to distinguish sports, shopping, educational, etc. and stagger them on appoaches and as an overlay throughout the city, useful for both residents and visitors who are not aware of their proximity to local landmarks.

3) Some advance forethought into preserving some views, sightlines, ridgetop and slope conservation on key corridors into town. Encourage outlying communities to develop smart, choose public architecture that compliments and works with surrounding landforms, preserve natural beauty and channel desired services. Key corridors include all interstates, US-280, US-78, exits from the airport and so on.

4) Promote downtown infill development to the degree practical (this must be a free enterprise rather than questionable subsidized projects), adding attractiveness, and step up demolition and clearing of decrepit or unrestorable buildings.

Historically and today I approach Birmingham from the north, on the I-65 South corridor. I don't recall the exact area but there's a bend where the skyline pops into view, that I've always appreciated. So the visual pop is there already, at least from some directions.

As far as marketing trivia like the largest cast iron statue in the world, I wouldn't be so sure anyone would care. Lots of cities in the US face this. What do you know about Rochester? Can you tell me the popular streets for condos in Boise? Spending tons of cash on a sustained national TV ad campaign would not motivate anyone to fly from say Sacramento or Baltimore to see Vulcan and Alabama Adventure. Effective business recruitment and print advertising would be much better bets for investment and incidental tourism in my opinion.

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