Monday, September 18, 2006

Modern Urban Muses v. The Life And Death [And Death And Life] Of Great American Cities

... "Like other creative-class centers, Washington [D.C.] is already facing threats to the vital mix, [Richard Florida] said: a dearth of affordable housing and rising income inequality. The very dynamics that are attracting creative-class workers to the area are also helping drive out the qualities they seek. And that, in turn, can lead to stifling homogeneity -- a creativity killer.

"Once a place gets boring, even the rich people leave," he said. "Do I really want to live in a region where everybody looks and acts like me?"

Take Adams Morgan, which [Richard Florida] cited in "The Rise of the Creative Class" [2002] as having the sort of multicultural sensibility and street life that creative-class types crave. A recent drive through the neighborhood on a Saturday night changed that view.

"I was in shock. . . . Adams Morgan has become something fundamentally different on the weekend," he said, referring to the throngs of inebriated, pizza-eating twentysomethings filling the streets. "This isn't the place it's going to happen. This is Las Vegas or something."

On [historically creative] U Street, Florida wondered whether revitalization had already extracted a price.

"I can barely see the legacy of Duke Ellington," he said. Authenticity, he mused, had been sacrificed for "success."

All was not lost, however.

On the way out of Busboys and Poets, a cafe-restaurant tucked inside a new condo development, Florida picked up a free literary journal titled "Divided City." In its pages, he appeared to find the sense of "realness" he had found lacking in the streetscape.

"Holy [expletive]. These people need to be in [on the urban redevelopment/renaissance] debate," he said, paging through it intensely.

He stopped on a poem titled "Towards a Forced Migration of Cranes."

"Emu, ostrich, egret, owl, anything but crane," it read. "Any thing but the flock of cranes that has migrated to this city, migrated to this city to breed contempt and feast on the young and old yet tender, once bold people of this city."

"Holy [expletive], this is it. This is it!" he said. "Oh, this is amazing. It's capturing the emotion of how this city is lived.""

Annys Shin "The City as Modern Muse: Richard Florida Muses on Cultivating Washington's 'Creative Class' Washington Post September 18, 2006

Muses struggle for wings in the fragile historic/creative central cores of Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: 'cris' once at With thanks.


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