Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Onion weighs in on "historic" preservation

Burger KingA closed-down Burger King like this one near Chicago is a common sight in many neighborhoods, and a sad reminder of America's vanishing fast-food heritage. Photo from The Onion.

In its inimitable fashion, The Onion, in the story "Many U.S. Cities Losing Battles to Preserve Their Burger Kings" comments on the American Way of Life.

From the article:

Every day, 38-year-old Susan Tarsley takes a brisk walk through her tree-lined neighborhood. At each turn, she is reminded of the changes brought on by the march of progress: a TV antenna dismantled to make way for underground cable, passersby chatting on cell phones, a rusty tricycle abandoned for a Razor scooter.

But at the silent corner of Lark Street and Superior Avenue, Tarsley stops to mourn the passing of an especially treasured landmark. Her local Burger King is fading into memory. It's a sadly familiar picture in many communities: Fast-food hubs that once bustled with activity, when young and old alike gathered in plastic molded seats around gleaming yellow linoleum tables, are now boarded-up ghost restaurants. Their long-extinguished drive-through menus silently beckon to cars that will never come.

"I came here as a child when it first opened," said Tarsley, strolling through the empty, weed-strewn parking lot. "Now that I have kids, where are they supposed to go for Whoppers or Chicken Tenders? We need to ask ourselves, as a culture, 'Where are our priorities?'"
Of course, sometimes with the Washington City Paper, we have our own version of The Onion, although perhaps not intentionally.

And with regard to Burger King, the company is actually doing quite well these days. In the USA Today article "CEO Turns the Flames Up", there is a lot of wisdom on turnaround strategies, on focusing on what matters and execution. Plus a good point that it's important to stick with what works in marketing messages -- who of a certain age doesn't remember the jingle "Have it your way" and how that differentiates BK from McDonald's. Of course, the Boondocks comment strip has some commentary on McDonald's and its repositioning strategies.

Boondocks - Comic - McDonalds arc


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