St. Louis’ rivalry with Chicago played out more than a century ago, but an Atlanta newspaper has decided to pour salt into an old wound.
In today’s edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, readers are told their city has a choice: ‘boom’ like Chicago or go ‘bust’ like St. Louis.
The front page of the Sunday newspaper features a photo of Cloud Gate, the metallic, bean-like sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and a photo of the Old Courthouse framed by the Arch.
The story is part of the newspaper’s year-long series on the economic state of Atlanta.
In its comparison of a struggling St. Louis with Chicago, its more affluent — and much-larger — Midwestern rival, the newspaper calls St. Louis a “cautionary tale” and a region that has “lost its way.”
Its profile of St. Louis leads with a description of the memorial in Ferguson to Michael Brown, the teen killed by Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
The recitation of St. Louis’ woes is a familiar one. It was once the fourth-most populated city in the nation, “a manufacturing and transportation colossus,” and the host city, in 1904, of the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics.
In the subsequent century or so, the newspaper reports, “The region … lost its way. Missteps by elected and business leaders left the city shrunken, with hundreds of thousands of residents moving to the suburbs. Bad urban planning fueled the exodus. Dozens of new towns cropped up in the county (St. Louis County), some filled with African-Americans.”
Special criticism goes to Harland Bartholomew, the renowned city planner who was hired by the St. Louis in 1916. “Bartholomew’s embrace of urban renewal and highways-to-the-suburbs fueled the exodus from St. Louis as well as the region’s fragmentation and racism.”
As for Chicago, “at several inflection points, the city has taken action to build its status, while many peers slipped.” It was helped by its “heartland location,” the Atlanta paper reports.
It’s unclear why the newspaper chose to compare St. Louis, a metropolitan area of about 2.8 million people, with Chicago, with a population of 9.5 million.
The newspaper’s stories are behind a paywall; a video it produced about St. Louis is not, and can be found here: http://bit.ly/1HiCQeD