Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is Medellin the New Bogotá?

Cable cars sail past the Biblioteca España in Medellin, which is a contender for 'the world's most innovative city' title.
(Photo: Arquitectura Medellin on Flickr)
A decade ago, it was Bogotá which was de moda. International publications loved to send correspondents here to write glowing reports about the city's eccentric, innovative mayors and progressive urban policies, which contrasted so strongly with Colombia's drug-and-guerrillas international image.

Still not perfect: Medellin's impoverished,
troubled and violent Comuna 13. (Photo:
But today La Ciclovia's no longer so novel, Bogotá's Ciclorutas are in disrepair and mayors Antanus Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa have been replaced by Samuel Moreno, now in prison, and Gustavo Petro, now under siege for mismanaging the city's garbage collection service.

Instead, Medellin is now in fashion. Colombia's second city, still known mostly for Pablo Escobar and violent hillside slums, makes a great story thanks to its modern subway, cable cars swaying over those violent comunas and beautiful mountain-top library.

Probably, the shift is deserved. Medellin's subway has renewed the city's image, as well as transporting millions smoothly past traffic jams and dangerous neighborhoods. (But whether a subway would be the best option for a larger, flatter city like Bogotá is another question.) The cable cars and library, besides providing new services for residents of poor neighborhoods, have also helped reduce homicide rates, according to studies.

Coming to Bogotá? A Medellin light rail station.
Despite its stumbles, tho, Bogotá hasn't stood still. The city's expanded its TransMilenio bus system, created new parks and libraries, and cut its poverty and homicide rates are dropping.
Medellin is now a finalist, along with New York and Jerusalem, for the Wall Street Journal's 'the world's most innovative city' award. The winner won't be chosen scientifically, tho: apparently, people can vote as many times as they wish. With that policy, the highly-wired populations of New York and Israel have huge advantages.

Vote early, vote often for Medellin at:

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

mauricio forero l said...

Well, we do not have a building like the BIBLIOTECA ESPANA in Bogota. This amazing library has won many awards and, the architect Mr Giancarlo Mazzanti from Barranquilla is one of the most prominent architects in the world, i have seen his work in innumerable books and publications. I was in the MoMA in N.Y.10 days ago and they have two rooms just about this now famous building and the new Medellin so...Yes Medallo is doing better than My least more attention ( Good attention )

M. F.