Thursday, October 8, 2009

G-20 Post Mortem

National Guardsmen Block Access to the Ninth Street Bridge on North Shore side of the River
The G-20 Summit held in Pittsburgh at the end of September will be, in my estimation, a watershed moment for the region. It is an event which elevates the city's status on the world stage: we are a city that can handle -- smoothly -- a complex event with multiple layers of security involving the heads of state of 20 of the world's largest nations.

The summit was a bit surreal for the observer in the middle of it. Large chunks of downtown were completely cordoned off and there were blockades everywhere, making it difficult even to walk around. There were state police in riot gear and National Guardsmen with machine guns and humvees at intersections. As many noted, it looked as if one had wandered into the middle of a movie set.

The downside to this was that the shutdown of downtown caused some severe economic pain to downtown retailers and restaurants. Several restauranteers I spoke to mentioned to me that they had lost in the tens of thousands of dollars, though they were also philosophical about it since they perceived a lot of good redounding to the region. One does wonder if it was necessary to shut down so much of Downtown, given the amount of pain the shutdown has cost.

There was one large protest march which came over to the North Side from downtown on the Friday of the Summit. While the march was supposed to be peaceful the city was unconvinceed and had state troopers lining the route. The crowd trooped over the Seventh Street bridge and eventually up Cedar Avenue, stopping at East Commons Park, about 2 blocks from our hotel and directly across the street from the Rita's Italian Ice franchise that is our tenant on the corner of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue. While the police were concerned that troublemakers might glom on, the rally at the park went off without incident . Galen Moorer, our tenant in the Rita's building, even got some business out of the protesters!

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