Monday, February 9, 2009

TBAR: the Great City Project

The most important cities are called Global Cities or Alpha Cities. The Wikipedia article on Global Cities lists these American cities as being in the top 30 Global Cities: New York (#1), Los Angeles (#6), Chicago (#8), Washington (#11), San Francisco (#15), and Boston (#29). Notice Dallas is not on the list. Dallas does rank 9th in the world for the number of billionaires. Yet Dallas is not considered an important city.

There is something wrong when Dallas has so much money and has so little influence in the world.

We need to gather our wits and be somebody. We need to think big and plan big things.

What should we do to become a great city? We have already written about projects that can uplift Dallas. There is the Texas Banking and Finance Project. There is the Texas Journalism Project. There is the Texas Publishing Project. There is the Cicero Project to develop world class lawyers. There is the DFW University Project to create a Tier One university in DFW, or perhaps becoming a World Class university is a better goal than becoming a Tier One university.

To this I can add the Iconic City Project. Consider how many movies are filmed in New York City (NYC) and think about all the buildings, bridges, and statues that are instantly recognized as belonging to New York City. NYC is indelibly imprinted on the minds of people around the world through iconic images like the Flatiron Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, and the statue of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center, to name just a few.

It is surprisingly easy to develop ugly statues. The Denver airport has an ugly horse statue that has drawn thousands of complaints, as described in the Wall Street Journal article, "A Horse of a Different Color Divides Denver" by Stephanie Simon, page one on Saturday February 7, 2009.

The Dallas skyline is distinctive, but there are no inspiring statues in the city. Statues of cattle or horses might be nostalgic, but they are not inspiring. Dallas needs inspiring iconic images. Even the city of Plano could have an iconic image. For example, if Plano took a stance that it aspires to become a great city after the fashion of ancient Athens, then an attractive and impressive statue of Athena could become an iconic image associated with Plano's ambition. This statue of Athena could look something like the statue of Brittania in the National Armada Memorial in Plymouth, England, but the Athena statue would hold a spear instead of a trident. Statues based on the classics are most likely to succeed in being inspirational. Angels are popular for statues. The City of Westminster, England, has the Anteros statue, also called Eros in the Piccadilly Circus. The city of Plano, Texas, tried to give millions of dollars to a land developer for a plain water fountain on private property (taxpayers objected). What great cities do is build an inspiriational statue, an iconic image, on public property.

Texas cannot be a great state without great cities. The DFW metroplex is the fourth largest in America (after New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago), but is considered an unimportant city with no influence. This is intolerable.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to put on our thinking cap and plan for greatness. It is time to roll up our sleeves and make DFW a great urban center with world wide influence.

Robert Canright

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