You might get the impression, looking at the downtown photographs, that Texarkana is a failing city. The once grand buildings stand fallow, hoping to be reborn in some new wave of economic activity. But the reality of late 20th century and early 21st century America is that the city is a lot more than the central core. The growth happens in the suburbs.
From what I can tell, with quick research on the web, Texarkana is doing fine. The population continues to grow. There are major employers and I notice new development when I was there. Texarkana is no Detroit.
I snapped this photo right off of Interstate 30, close to the brand new Hampton Inn, in which we stayed. I ate there with my son and the modern restaurant was even nicer than the ones in Austin with the same hipster-ish employees that I find in my hometown. Welcome to the new Texarkana and everywhere U.S.A.
Yes, this can be Texas, California, Florida or any of the thousands of suburbs throughout the country. Without the context of trees and geography, it’s impossible to tell where it’s from. This is what the new cities look like.
Which is a shame, really. Just several miles away, there is a unique downtown, full of history just waiting for new life.
But the reality is that growth follows transportation. Back when these cities grew, over a 100 years ago, people rode the trains, took streetcars and walked. A compact and dense downtown made sense. Not anymore. We all have cars and with cheap gasoline, so we all spread out and the convenient places, with parking lots, move further away.
Austin spent a lot of time, money and energy and the downtown is finally growing again. I found out that the old Hotel Grim, which I featured yesterday in photos 3 and 9, has plans for redevelopment into lofts. Perhaps one day, if I return to Texarkana, I would see a different downtown. One full of life. A unique place that doesn’t look like every other city in America.
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