I've lived in and near Salem (Oregon) since 1977. That's thirty-three years of exposure to a city whose lifeblood is blah. I'm hoping that just as researchers have found that caloric restriction extends life, so does urban excitement deprivation.
Glancing at the front page of the Statesman Journal today, I was disturbed -- but not all that surprised -- to see that the Salem Curse continues. A promising effort to convert the downtown riverfront area into a mixed use development has stalled.
Download Salem Riverfront project stalls
So now, instead of staring at ugly Boise Cascade industrial buildings, we'll be treated to the sight of them half-demolished. But as a commenter on the newspaper story said, the vast expanse of barren land on the site makes for some Salem fun times.
Well at least it was being used this last weekend for a so called "demolition car sale". You know the ones were the dealer charges way more for the same cars than when they were actually on their lot..but seems to dupe a lot of normally sensible people..because its on a piece of wasteland and/or has a big tent.
I've come up with the Salem Curse theory because it explains why the city remains the zero point at the center of four engaging compass headings. I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the urbanization line Salem sold its soul and now is doomed to live with minimal spirit.
To the north is oh-so-trendy Portland. To the south is oh-so-hip Eugene. To the west is the beautiful Pacific Coast. To the east is the majestic Cascade Mountains. And in the middle sits...
It's well known that the "creative class" shuns Salem. Many professional types who work either in state government or the private sector live in the Portland area, choosing to commute a far distance in order to avoid spending more time in Salem than is necessary to earn a living.
This is why we don't have a Trader Joes, even though Corvallis (another nearby cool city) does, though it is three times smaller than Salem. We also don't have a Whole Foods Market, or any other large natural food store.
But we have lots of Subway shops, as I noted in another Salem-bashing post, "Why Salem sucks compared to Portland."
Something needs to happen to break the city's blah cycle, in which well-educated, high income creative class folks choose not to move to Salem because there aren't the amenities that well-educated, high income creative class folks expect to find in a city of this size, which makes it less likely that businesses who cater to well-educated, high income creative class folks will locate here, which ...
Leaves us with big box stores and Lancaster Drive. Whoopee.
A Salem bicycling blog hit this same theme recently in "Physician Recruitment: Salem is So-Lame."
While the Salem area is enjoying a bit of a renaissance among some younger professionals, creatives, and the tech savvy, it remains a difficult sell for many.