Downtown Eugene

Monday, July 18, 2005

Memory loss

Maybe the worst thing that can happen to a town is memory loss. Weak analysis, publicly published, is one thing, but when weak anaylsis becomes history, it must be answered.

Certainly, the problem is much more serious at a national and international level, especially today, when Americans are just starting to realize that the US government has abused their trust for decades, and is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. But the small distortions that sneak into local history, while less important perhaps, are very similar in nature.

An example in today's Register-Guard:

July 17, 2005

Building Blocks Of A Renaissance: The seeds of downtown's rebirth were sowed 20 years ago
By Joe Mosley
The Register-Guard

Former Mayor Ruth Bascom was a city councilwoman and new mayoral candidate in 1992, when she used three props - a hard hat, a rented jackhammer and a block of concrete - to offer what now seems a prophetic suggestion for the future of downtown Eugene.

The pedestrian mall built in 1969 had been a complete failure, driving retailers away and draining vitality from the city's core. An abstract concrete fountain - which Bascom referred to as a "tank trap" - stood at Willamette Street and Broadway, downtown's heart.

The mall did not drive away retailers. It was built by retailers, using city urban redevlopment money, and by developers, using the same money to tear down beautiful old buildings and apartments. The retailers were driven away by the suburban shopping malls on the outside of town. The downtown mall was a direct, explicit answer to Valley River Center, the first major shopping center outside of the city core.

Pretty basic error for a story lead, in the city's major paper. The only way to counter such misunderstandings are to write back.