A Tale of Two Cities

Letter From Cleveland

Visits in the space of ten days to Toronto, Ontario, and then Tifton, Georgia, demand reflective analysis for stronger reasons than the compelling force of alliteration. The city and the town are so different that the visitor to both is driven to look for the faintest similarities. Once that effort is made, however, sweeping conclusions are revealed to guide us against repeating past mistakes in the future of cities like our Cleveland. My wife and I traveled to these distant places for good but irrelevant reasons; it's what we saw, tasted, and heard that counted.

When boosters speak of the great features of Cleveland, they tell us of the museums. Browns, orchestra, theaters, ballet, and ethnic diversity. They never mention the one great advantage we hold over most other American cities: we're close to Canada. In Canadian seasons there are forests and lakes for the rough and ready and Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake festivals for the cultivated. But, year around, 35 minutes away by air, there's Toronto. It is, in two words, an "urban lesson" for all of us who live to its south.

The first thing you notice about Toronto is that it is clean in a way that we have forgotten was once true of American cities. Since there is no army of street sweepers in sight, the probable explanation is that people don't throw their trash on the streets. Moreover, the streets are free of human detritus, although the...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here