Month: July 2009
Programing Note: Mayor Mallory will be on Channel 12’s Newsmakers this Sunday at 11am. Streetcars will likely be discussed.
Fifty-eight years ago, Cincinnati’s last streetcar went off duty. At that time Cincinnati’s population stood at over half a million—the 18th largest city in the country. Over the next fifty years, the city’s size declined. By 2000 our population had fallen by over 170,000, a loss about 33%. Not all neighborhoods lost population equally. Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, some of our densest and most transit dependent neighborhoods both lost more than 70% of their residents over the past half century. Over-the-Rhine alone lost twenty-three thousand residents — more than the entire population of Norwood. The historic and irreplaceable architecture of Over-the-Rhine remains, but much of it stands vacant.
Cincinnati needs to grow its population in order to grow its tax base. It costs the city the same amount to plow a street full of vacant buildings as it does to plow a street with a hundred residents. Vacant buildings need police and fire coverage, but produce little in the way of tax revenues.
Streetcars are a good investment for the City. An analysis by the University of Cincinnati confirmed that for every $1 the city invests in the Cincinnati Streetcar, it will reap $2.70 in benefits.
The Cincinnati Streetcar will connect our two largest employment centers, Uptown and Downtown, which contain over half off all the jobs in the city. It will help redevelop empty parking lots and vacant buildings in our urban core by reducing the amount of parking needed to build new condos or apartment. The streetcar will make the city safer by increasing the number of pedestrians, putting more eyes on the street. And building the streetcar won’t raise taxes.
But the main benefit of the Cincinnati Streetcar is the economic development that will occur from attracting new residents and businesses into our city. To often those people who want to live in a dense, walkable and lively urban neighborhood served by public transportation go to Chicago, Portland, or somewhere else away from here. Our Universities graduate thousands of students every year, but too many of them leave the city, never to return.
Building a streetcar will help create those vibrant urban neighborhoods here, which will help retain some of the best talent in our region. Increasing our population and the new investment along the streetcar line will increase our tax base and provide Cincinnati with more resources to use to improve all 52 neighborhoods. Investing in the Cincinnati Streetcar will help the entire Revitalize Cincinnati — Build the Streetcar.
Outside Magazine published this list of America’s Top Ten Cites. One thing they all have in common—Streetcars. Every city on the list is either operating or in the planning stages for a streetcar system. Do great cities build streetcars, or do streetcars build great cities? Or both?
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Advanced Planning for a Streetcar
Atlanta, Georgia: Operates Heavy Rail, Advanced Planning for a Streetcar
Austin, Texas: Operates Commuter Rail, Planning Streetcar
Boston, Massachusetts: Operates Subway and Streetcar
Charlotte, North Carolina: Operates Light Rail, Constructing a Streetcar
Cincinnati, Ohio: Planning a Streetcar
Colorado Springs, Colorado: Preliminary Planning for a Streetcar
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Operates Light Rail, Planning a Streetcar
Portland, Oregon: Operates Light Rail and Streetcar
Seattle, Washington: Operates Light Rail and Streetcar
From Outside Magazine:
With its low cost of living and resilient and well-balanced blend of industries (everything from aerospace to advertising), Cincinnati topped our charts for best economy. But what about actually living there? For a local perspective, we turned to former Outside staffer Jay Stowe, a Cincinnati native who’s now editor in chief of Cincinnati Magazine, for a (mostly) objective opinion. For starters, Stowe says, it’s an incredibly easy city. The downtown is “very urban and completely walkable,” and the city is ringed with green spaces, parks, and lush hillsides. The city council and mayor are trying mightily to get a streetcar line running through the urban core, a long-term cycling-infrastructure plan that will include a downtown bike-commuter complex is in the works, and ground has been broken on the Banks, an $800 million multi-use riverfront development that will change the face of the city. For its size, Stowe says, Cincinnati boasts “cool architecture, genuinely awesome independent restaurants, and neighborhoods full of affordable, eclectic houses—and one of the country’s biggest Oktoberfests, where people willingly don lederhosen and do the Chicken Dance totally unironically.” Then there’s its proximity to what Stowe refers to as a “vast inland adventure empire,” by which he means Kentucky and West Virginia. The city is just two hours from Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, a world-class climbing area (and a great place to hike and camp), and four hours from Fayetteville, West Virginia, the whitewater hub of the East Coast.
Read the rest of the list here.