Everyone knows that cars, freeways, and automotive-borne sprawl helped kill America's traditional downtowns. That's a process we've seen in every corner of the country—for example, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Everyone outside the city associates Allentown's travails with the Billy Joel-eulogized closure of the steel mills. But people in the city know that the shut-down mills were actually in (nearby) Bethlehem. Allentown's main problem was not overall collapse but rather suburban sprawl, which it is now working tirelessly (and inventively) to offset.
Fresno, California, as we've noted, is as stark an example of the destructive power of sprawl as anyplace in the country. This map, which I used when introducing the Fresno story, shows the city's pre-War War II, mainly downtown development in blue—and its post-war sprawl in red.
That map hangs in Mayor Ashley Swearengin's office, which is one indication of her administration's commitment to offsetting the sprawl and reviving the downtown. I've talked about that in several previous installments, especially "Stages of a Downtown Comeback," "Fresno Kicks off its Campaign," and "How Did Nice Downtowns Get That Way?"
The video below is one more tool used by the public-private pro-downtown alliance in Fresno to make its case. For me, the less interesting part of its message is the one on which it begins and ends: that is, the importance of believing that things can change. I understand that emphasis, since a self-limiting self-image of Fresno, as a loser city in a winner state, is something real (as discussed here).