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Old 06-05-2012, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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A while ago I had a conversation with a gentleman that suggested that Cleveland, OH could have been New York City had the Rockefellers stayed there, because of the wealth that came along with Standard Oil. The argument was that the Rockefellers wanted to create a truly urban environment, and would have spent their money to do so regardless of which city they found themselves in. Apparently New York City was a better deal at the time, and so they moved their headquarters to NY, and out of Cleveland.

My only problem with the argument is that, while fascinating, suggests that the influence of the Rockefellers in a city like Cleveland, where they were perhaps one of a few movers and shakers, or perhaps the only mover and shaker, can compare to a city like New York where you have entirely too many billionaires to count. I also find it to smack of blatant disrespect to Cleveland itself, which did okay for itself until the sixties, long after Standard Oil relocated.

I figure it would safe to post this thread on City-Data without fear of repercussions from trolls and other stans because there does not appear to be any Cleveland vs. New York animosity that I know of, and probably will not be any, because of other cities that like to compare themselves to New York.

This may be a multi-tiered question; was the relocation of Standard Oil enough to create the impetus that propelled New York to become a World Class city, was the move enough to prevent Cleveland from becoming all it could be or is this just some random event that, at the end of the day, was not a contributing factor in the growth (or lack of) either city?
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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NYC was the largest, most powerful city in the US way before the Rockefellers and Standard Oil.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:17 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oakparkdude View Post
NYC was the largest, most powerful city in the US way before the Rockefellers and Standard Oil.
That's what I thought. The implication I walked away with is that the Rockefellers and Standard Oil could have bridged the gap between what New York City was at that time, and what Cleveland could have been. In other words, they had enough money to help Cleveland "catch up" to New York.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:19 PM
 
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NYC lies on one of the best natural harbors in the world. It was trading with Europe long before Standard Oil was big and when the Hudson was extended up to Canada, it opened up NYC for trading with not only Europe and Africa, but directly with Canada as well.

NYC is so big because of its harbor. It was the point of entry for millions of immigrants and most of them stayed in New York because they had no money to go elsewhere. Instead they found work in the area and made a life for themselves right there.

Last edited by Adric; 06-05-2012 at 01:55 PM..
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Springfield, Ohio
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It may have become a rival to Chicago, but not New York.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by Natural510 View Post
It may have become a rival to Chicago, but not New York.
interesting. I agree.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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Originally Posted by Natural510 View Post
It may have become a rival to Chicago, but not New York.
Doubtful, unless the Rockefellers decided to get into the railroading business and single-handedly re-route the national railway system away from Chicago to Cleveland.
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Atlanta & NYC
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No city will be quite like NYC in my opinion.
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:13 PM
 
Location: The canyon (with my pistols and knife)
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Pittsburgh had industrialists with names like Carnegie, Frick, Mellon, Heinz and Westinghouse, and they all invested very heavily in the city as well. Even today, their names are ubiquitous in Pittsburgh, and many of their descendants still live in the area. None of that prevented Pittsburgh from falling apart during the 1970's and 1980's, though. It's a gross stretch to say that Cleveland would have avoided a similar fate, let alone elevated itself to the next level, if one man named Rockefeller didn't leave.

Honestly, I think the assumption that Cleveland would rival New York had one wealthy industrialist stayed goes back to one of the big problems that Cleveland still has: their unwavering faith in "silver bullets." One spectacular person or project is all Cleveland needs to turn the corner, it seems in the minds of some Clevelanders, whether it's somebody like John Rockefeller or LeBron James, or something like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The problem is, while the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame brought more tourism revenue to Cleveland, its existence does little or nothing to enhance daily life in the city. As for LeBron James, he made the Cavaliers a winner and raised the spirits of Cleveland sports fans, but that didn't make much difference once the game was over. In short, it seems like Cleveland has been trying too hard to promote itself, and not hard enough to improve the little things.

Pittsburgh did get sucked into the same trap as Cleveland for a while. It's why Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the nicest, most cutting-edge, most user-friendly airports in the United States, while also becoming one of the most overbuilt airports in the United States once US Airways left town anyway. It's also why the most noteworthy buildings built in the city in the last 25 years are a convention center and a pair of sports stadiums. Yes, they did an excellent job of designing and building them, and they look great, but their overall impact on daily life is still negligible. It's the behind-the-scenes stuff that has enhanced the quality of life in Pittsburgh, like rebuilding and enhancing the neighborhoods, building new parks and recreational outlets, cleaning up polluted wastelands, and leveraging the colleges and universities to add more cutting-edge jobs. It also helps that Pittsburgh's biggest companies are excellent corporate citizens. I don't know how the city/company relationship is in Cleveland, but in terms of "corporate citizenship," I'd put those in Pittsburgh up with those in Atlanta or Minneapolis/St. Paul without blinking.

In short, I think Cleveland needs to start focusing more on the little things that improve daily life in the city, and less on the grand, attention-getting projects, because the former are much more likely to enhance the quality of life than the latter.
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by Gnutella View Post
Pittsburgh had industrialists with names like Carnegie, Frick, Mellon, Heinz and Westinghouse, and they all invested very heavily in the city as well. Even today, their names are ubiquitous in Pittsburgh, and many of their descendants still live in the area. None of that prevented Pittsburgh from falling apart during the 1970's and 1980's, though. It's a gross stretch to say that Cleveland would have avoided a similar fate, let alone elevated itself to the next level, if one man named Rockefeller didn't leave.

Honestly, I think the assumption that Cleveland would rival New York had one wealthy industrialist stayed goes back to one of the big problems that Cleveland still has: their unwavering faith in "silver bullets." One spectacular person or project is all Cleveland needs to turn the corner, it seems in the minds of some Clevelanders, whether it's somebody like John Rockefeller or LeBron James, or something like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The problem is, while the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame brought more tourism revenue to Cleveland, its existence does little or nothing to enhance daily life in the city. As for LeBron James, he made the Cavaliers a winner and raised the spirits of Cleveland sports fans, but that didn't make much difference once the game was over. In short, it seems like Cleveland has been trying too hard to promote itself, and not hard enough to improve the little things.

Pittsburgh did get sucked into the same trap as Cleveland for a while. It's why Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the nicest, most cutting-edge, most user-friendly airports in the United States, while also becoming one of the most overbuilt airports in the United States once US Airways left town anyway. It's also why the most noteworthy buildings built in the city in the last 25 years are a convention center and a pair of sports stadiums. Yes, they did an excellent job of designing and building them, but their overall impact on daily life is still negligible. It's the behind-the-scenes stuff that has enhanced the quality of life in Pittsburgh, like rebuilding and enhancing the neighborhoods, building new recreational assets, cleaning up polluted wastelands, and leveraging the colleges and universities to add more cutting-edge jobs. It also helps that Pittsburgh's biggest companies are excellent corporate citizens. I don't know how it is for companies in Cleveland, but in terms of "corporate citizenship," I'd put those in Pittsburgh up with those in Atlanta or Minneapolis/St. Paul without blinking.

In short, I think Cleveland needs to start focusing more on the little things that improve daily life in the city, and less on the grand, attention-getting projects, because the former are much more likely to enhance the quality of life than the latter.
Interesting point. It wasn't a local that made the argument though, it was a friend from Chicago.

I also like your comparison to Pittsburgh. The Midwest too often gets caught in the trap of thinking "if only this would happen" or "if only that did not happen" when at the end of the day what ails the Midwest, or any other city, is a myriad of factors that work behind the scenes.

Cleveland has not learned anything from history though. Right now they are busy at work investing hundreds of billions into their downtown area, and it is quite nice and I almost thought about moving there, very dense, very large, etc, but they continue to neglect the neighborhoods that working class people can afford to stay at. They need to keep people in those neighborhoods. It would not matter if 100,000 people lived in downtown Cleveland. If you have debilitating crime directly outside of your downtown district, and neighborhoods that look as though they should be in Detroit, or the South Bronx back in the seventies, you still have major issues that need to be addressed. The city still has vacant plots of land that are remnants of the destruction that occurred back in the days when America had issues with race riots.

The only thing Cleveland will do, it seems, would be to build a subway downtown, once it becomes large enough to support one, and continue to add flashing lights to the area, and throw in a few more casinos for good measure, just to add the growing income inequality of the area. Their problems have nothing to do with industrialists. It was good enough for me to draw comparisons to DC but then I thought about the sheer differences; downtown Cleveland affects downtown Cleveland whereas the prosperity of DC has built up Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. The difference is night and day. When the metros collide, and someone wants to live in Akron because it is an affordable alternative to downtown Cleveland, and you can hop on the Amtrak and get there in a half hour, that is when Cleveland can toot their horn. Until then though it is all smoke and mirrors until the credit dries up.
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