Friday, November 22, 2013

Rahm Emanuel's French Connections

In Gapers Block, I explore four reasons by Rahm Emanuel won't ever publicly mock the French, despite a less-than-flattering travel advisory portrayal of Chicago on their Foreign Ministry website.

And as it turns out, the home of the original French Connection, Marseille, has been compared to Chicago in the international press for a variety of reasons:
Two weeks ago, before the spread of the French Ministry city warnings, a series of articles began describing the this year's European Capital of Culture as "the Chicago of France." 
To combat this image, the city--home of the infamous French Connection heroin smuggling scheme--is set to spend €3 Billion on improvements to "transportation infrastructure, urban renovation, education, security and jobs for underprivileged youth," along with 80 new cops on the streets to reduce crime and better integrate the comparatively poorer northern part of the city. 
Technically, Marseille's murder rate pales in comparison to Chicago's--the entirety of France had only 665 murders last year, while Chicago alone had 506. 
But in contrast to Rahm's gleeful escalation of the The Daily Show's tongue-in-cheek "Deep Dish vs. New York pizza" feud, no headline-grabbing "Chicago vs. Marseilles" story will do any favors for either city's reputation as a cultural hub or tourist destination.
We'll see how Marseille's current investment campaign fares in the coming years, and if it can serve as a model for other gang violence-plagued cities across the world.

Urban planners, start taking notes.

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