Published on 21 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
By Perry Norton FAICP
I have some knowledge of the historical roles of central cities, but what is the role today, if any? The central city is certainly not the hub of transportation anymore, nor is it the commercial/retail center. There is very little manufacturing in the center. In Detroit, General Motors Tech is out on the 8 Mile Road, isn't it?
So, what's left? Well, the City and County Complex is probably downtown, and the courts, thus offices full of lawyers. There may be a theater or two, but there are theaters elsewhere - outside the centers of cities, in Overland Park KS, for example..
In the August 1992 issue of Planning magazine (APA) there was an article titled "Is downtown worth saving?" It didn't strike me that the answer contained therein was a resounding "yes". Oh there were some contributors to the article who used poetic language about the downtown being the essence of ethnic diversity, and the intellectual village of the 21st century. They thought, as to be expected, that downtown was worth saving, but they didn't, in my opinion, contribute much to the question: for what?