Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Rust Belt

I spent 5.5 hours in the car today, and here are two things that I realized along the way:

  • I established a new personal benchmark for the western-most point that I have driven to. And I'm really not all that far west-- I'm in Chicago. (But until today, the farthest west that I had ever driven was Indianapolis, which is a scant 1.5 hours from Cincinnati.)

    I've been here a couple of other times, but I've always flown before. Ditto for every point west of here.

  • I have a special place in my heart for Rust Belt cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. (I'm sure it stems from the 5 years I spent in Cleveland.)

There's just something unique about Rust Belt cities-- They're unpretentious, but they have a sort of sturdiness and just a hint of swagger to them. They have a confidence that comes from knowing their purpose:

They make stuff.

These cities weren't built on marketing, finance, government, entertainment, or tourism. They were built on a foundation of manufacturing. And even though the foundations have crumbled in some areas, the Rust Belt cities retain the special traits that they developed along the way. They're still proud of their solid work ethic, and they've accumulated a rich cultural diversity from centuries of immigration. In my opinion, these are some of the best qualities of America.

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