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View Poll Results: Which city has the brighter future?
Birmingham 41 27.89%
Memphis 39 26.53%
Neither city will make a significant change 58 39.46%
Both cities with make a significant change 9 6.12%
Voters: 147. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-13-2013, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Franklin, TN
6,655 posts, read 12,108,847 times
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Both of these cities were once among the leaders of the South in terms of growth and industry. Now they have fallen behind and are among the middle of the pack. Both fight images of negative perception and relative slow population growth among their peer cities.

Which one do you believe has the best chance to rebound?

Metro population:
Memphis - 1,316,100
Birmingham - 1,128,047

2000-2010 population growth:
Memphis - 110,896 (9.2%)
Birmingham - 75,809 (7.2%)

2000-2010 employment change:
Memphis - (-36,700) (-5.9%)
Birmingham - (-27,400) (-5.3%)
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
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For all its problems, I kind of like Memphis. It has charm and character that is unique to it. I've been all over the Southeast so I have a pretty good feel for the various cities.

Both cities are still suffering from the ripples of racial tension.

I am going to say Memphis though. If they could get the crime down, I can see that as being a place people actually WANT to live. When I lived in Little Rock, most people there spoke very highly of Memphis and the younger people would take frequent weekend trips there for the nightlife and cultural opportunities. Memphis, if it played its cards right, has the opportunity of attracting the bright and educated college graduates from its border states of Mississippi and Arkansas, both of which completely lack the type of urban environment in which most young people seek.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:25 PM
 
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This is a good one. One of the biggest problems these cities have faced is bad leadership over the years. If that can ever change, then you might see some real progress.

It's not by much, but I think I'll go with Birmingham here. It has an advantage in being the largest metro in the state (but it will have to address the issue of a rapidly declining municipal population as it's entirely feasible that Montgomery will overtake it to become the largest municipality in Alabama within a decade) and isn't overshadowed by an in-state peer like Memphis is with Nashville. UAB is a real asset to the city and Birmingham is said to have some of the nicest suburbs of a sizable Southern city. The new Railroad Park has been a hit which suggests that there is indeed untapped potential in the city.

But for the foreseeable future, I don't see either of them making a significant change.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutiny77 View Post
This is a good one. One of the biggest problems these cities have faced is bad leadership over the years. If that can ever change, then you might see some real progress.

It's not by much, but I think I'll go with Birmingham here. It has an advantage in being the largest metro in the state (but it will have to address the issue of a rapidly declining municipal population as it's entirely feasible that Montgomery will overtake it to become the largest municipality in Alabama within a decade) and isn't overshadowed by an in-state peer like Memphis is with Nashville. UAB is a real asset to the city and Birmingham is said to have some of the nicest suburbs of a sizable Southern city. The new Railroad Park has been a hit which suggests that there is indeed untapped potential in the city.

But for the foreseeable future, I don't see either of them making a significant change.
I don't think Memphis is really overshadowed by Nashville. Memphis is quite a good distance away from Nashville and has its own identity. Memphis feels more urban throughout in my opinion than Nashville or Birmingham.

The thing is, I don't really see what Birmingham has that would attract people there. Memphis has the advantage of a unique cultural identity and history that from my experience is lacking in Birmingham. If anybody wants to show the best Birmingham has to offer, please do in this thread because I would like to see.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:54 PM
 
36,095 posts, read 34,424,752 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bchris02 View Post
I don't think Memphis is really overshadowed by Nashville. Memphis is quite a good distance away from Nashville and has its own identity. Memphis feels more urban throughout in my opinion than Nashville or Birmingham.
Memphis actually is indeed overshadowed by Nashville. They are both in the same state, around the same size, and have a rich musical legacy. However, Nashville has taken a much more progressive path than Memphis and that's the criticism that typically comes up when discussing Memphis's shortcomings. A place can be bad on its own, but when it has another city in the same state around the same size getting a lot of things right, it reflects badly on the city that's not quite as progressive.

Quote:
The thing is, I don't really see what Birmingham has that would attract people there. Memphis has the advantage of a unique cultural identity and history that from my experience is lacking in Birmingham. If anybody wants to show the best Birmingham has to offer, please do in this thread because I would like to see.
Memphis might attract more tourists than Birmingham because of its musical legacy, but it's not a huge advantage. Neither has an edge on the other in history IMO. Birmingham is more like Charlotte in that the best it has to offer is experienced by living there and not so much by visiting.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Franklin, TN
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What do you think are the biggest challenges for each city?

My thoughts are that Birmingham does have a real crisis in terms of municipal population. The population loss from 2000-2010 was over 30,000, the second largest drop in their history (1960-1970 was the largest). I'm not sure what has happened since 2010 (perhaps a B'ham resident could tell me), but it's concerning to me that the loss has increased each decade from 1980 on.

Birmingham also faces an interesting challenge from its suburban neighbors. Unlike a lot of Southern cities, which have had the opportunity to really spread out, Birmingham seems unusually choked off by its suburbs. The result is some very unusual, stringy sort of annexations.

2010 Census - Interactive Alabama Census Map - al.com

Memphis, on the other hand, has been able to cover its core population loss like a lot of Southern cities have -- through annexation. It has grown to twice the land area of Birmingham, with 3 times the population. While it did lose a very modest 4,000 from the last Census, it is in better position to deal with it due to its larger size. Birmingham simply can't afford to lose more of its tax base.




I think the main problems with Memphis have to do with perception. It has a high crime rate (though it has fallen in recent years) and a very negative image for city schools. Despite the number of nice areas of town, people often apply the labels "rundown" and "ghetto" to the entire city. Simply put, it has a big image problem. While Birmingham shares in some of these as actual problems, I don't think it gets the same level of negative press as Memphis. Some of that may be because Memphis is a well-known tourist/cultural area (so, more often in the media)...and it couldn't help that a number of rap artists in Memphis proudly speak of it in such terms.

While Memphis might be lowering their crime rate, in order to really drop out of the "dangerous" spotlight, they need to drop out of the top tier in crime rate. When publications list Memphis as one of the most dangerous cities in America, many people assume it applies universally to the city (i.e. not safe to go there at all).
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:18 AM
 
Location: the ass of nowhere (the midwest)
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Memphis could re-work itself into a mid-sized, hip/creative hub alternative to Atlanta, a "Portland of the south" type of city. Of course, Nashville already has an advantage and is perhaps more suited to go that way what with the country music industry. Memphis does have it's music history and the mississippi riverfront as a good base for it's charm. It also is geographically close to a crossroads between the south and the southwest.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:13 PM
 
6,628 posts, read 11,033,320 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutiny77 View Post
This is a good one. One of the biggest problems these cities have faced is bad leadership over the years. If that can ever change, then you might see some real progress.

It's not by much, but I think I'll go with Birmingham here. It has an advantage in being the largest metro in the state (but it will have to address the issue of a rapidly declining municipal population as it's entirely feasible that Montgomery will overtake it to become the largest municipality in Alabama within a decade) and isn't overshadowed by an in-state peer like Memphis is with Nashville. UAB is a real asset to the city and Birmingham is said to have some of the nicest suburbs of a sizable Southern city. The new Railroad Park has been a hit which suggests that there is indeed untapped potential in the city.

But for the foreseeable future, I don't see either of them making a significant change.
Actually, I voted for neither city. After reading your post, I'm going to change my vote to Memphis.

1) Though Memphis and Birmingham have similarly sized metros, Memphis is larger as a city.
2) Memphis has college sports and a pro-team
3) Memphis has made its name known for music
4) Though Memphis competes with Nashville (3 hours to the east) it's NOTHING like the giant that is 2 hours east of Birmingham
5) Memphis is in a state that is doing much better than Alabama. In other words, Tennessee is in a better position to pump infrastructure dollars into Memphis.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:07 PM
 
36,095 posts, read 34,424,752 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbancharlotte View Post
Actually, I voted for neither city. After reading your post, I'm going to change my vote to Memphis.

1) Though Memphis and Birmingham have similarly sized metros, Memphis is larger as a city.
2) Memphis has college sports and a pro-team
3) Memphis has made its name known for music
4) Though Memphis competes with Nashville (3 hours to the east) it's NOTHING like the giant that is 2 hours east of Birmingham
5) Memphis is in a state that is doing much better than Alabama. In other words, Tennessee is in a better position to pump infrastructure dollars into Memphis.
Good points. I think Memphis has a few more assets and built-in advantages, but I think I just see a little more desire for change in Birmingham and small steps being taken to implement change. Although he turned out to be a dud, I remember when Birmingham residents were excited when Langford took office, hoping he would be the one to help the city turn a corner. So Birmingham definitely has the appetite to see further progress.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:20 PM
 
Location: The Magnolia City
8,931 posts, read 13,082,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fightforlove View Post
Memphis could re-work itself into a mid-sized, hip/creative hub alternative to Atlanta, a "Portland of the south" type of city. Of course, Nashville already has an advantage and is perhaps more suited to go that way what with the country music industry. Memphis does have it's music history and the mississippi riverfront as a good base for it's charm. It also is geographically close to a crossroads between the south and the southwest.
I'd like to see Memphis progress without taking the hipster route.
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