Posts tagged “Cleveland

Beale Street Bucks

Posted on June 28, 2012

Following recent violent incidents on famed Beale Street, city leaders in Memphis, Tennessee, are contemplating a proposal by business leaders to impose a $10 fee on weekend nights, which would buy a $9 voucher for purchases in the tourist venue’s many clubs, bars, and restaurants. It is just one of several remedies under review. As the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported earlier this month, Memphis leaders are being very careful to characterize this proposed policy as anything but a “cover charge,” which carries the unwanted connotation of privatizing public space. It is indeed a touchy subject. In 1982, as College of Charleston history professor Robert D. Russell describes in his essay in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition (Chicago, 2012), when Beale Street was considered…

Marketing Marketing

Posted on May 19, 2012

Public markets are all the rage these days. After largely disappearing in most communities in the second half of the 20th century amid the rush to supermarkets and processed foods, only a small number of markets remained. Some of the oldest markets that were housed in large, historic buildings in tourist-favored cities phased out their original functions and began to cater to out-of-towners with colorful shops and restaurants. The most notable successful conversion story was in Boston where, as American Tourism co-editor Nicholas Dagen Bloom writes, visionary mall developer James Rouse managed to use the trappings of an old market to reinvent the worn-down Quincy Market into Faneuil Hall Marketplace. For the next two decades other cities rushed to copy Rouse’s brash confidence in…

Cleveland: Tourist City?

Posted on May 10, 2012

Today I depart from my usual commentary on tourist destinations featured in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition. Two days ago, I led my annual downtown Cleveland walking tour for a small group of interested students in my History of U.S. Tourism course at Cleveland State University. We were tourists in our own town for two short hours. This time we came armed with smartphones loaded with the Cleveland Historical app. The students spent their semester creating new content for the app while studying the history of how promoters packaged and tourists consumed American attractions, cities, towns, and regions. Now it was their chance to re-imagine their own city through a hybrid of direct and mediated experience. I’m still learning how to meld the…

Invention and Imitation

Posted on April 22, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also highly lucrative. Imitation is an ironic hallmark of an industry that on one level is predicated on destinations’ ability to offer a unique experience. Tourists seek novelty for its potential to grant a sense of discovery, but it does not take long for entrepreneurs to recognize a good idea and attempt to replicate it as nearly as possible. Along with tourists’ restlessness when the extraordinary becomes mundane, imitation is a prime reason for tourist destinations to embellish their attractions or reinvent themselves. Early railroad-age travelers hoped to see “real” Indians as a way of eluding the reach of crass, market-oriented America (symbolized by the industrial cities from which many tourists hailed), but their…