Birmingham – an American City?

“These folk never have a minute to themselves. They work as if they must get rich by the evening, and die the next day. They are generally intelligent people, but intelligent in the American way”

Alexis de Toqueville on the people of Birmingham, 1835

When I first moved to Birmingham, my boss described it as an American city. Nothing to do with the accent, but more the attitude. And de Toqueville shows that this is nothing new.

Birmingham starts again and rebuilds itself, physically and metaphorically. Sometimes the results may not quite work, for example the 1960’s planning. Yet the city is willing to undo for example the moving of pedestrians underground.

Is it losing this attitude? There is some sign that it is. I have taken part in several discussions over the impact of an elected mayor, where there are suggestions that this is a panacea. My own view is that the people of Birmingham need to develop themselves and the city, and that can start today.

What do you think?


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