Here’s a review of this week’s questions:
- What city boasts that it had the first-ever electric streetcar in the United States?
- What city has been trying for years to erect a statue of one of its favorite sons, film legend Gene Kelly?
- What city is home to the Renaissance Center, a group of seven connected skyscrapers built in 1976?
And here are the answers:
- Richmond, VA. The electric street railway system that began operating in Richmond in 1888 became the prototype for similar systems across the US. Designed by Frank Julian Sprague for The Richmond Union Passenger Railway, the streetcars capped off years of attempts at this type of system and stimulated a worldwide urban transportation revolution. The system helped to shape the growth of cities, towns, and communities around the world. After the opening of the Richmond system, the relationship between land use and transportation was greatly reinforced. The cores of central cities grew and prospered as neighborhoods and streetcar suburbs developed along electric street railway lines.
- Pittsburgh, PA. Local fans of the arts have gotten tired of seeing statues of sports heroes, but none for creative giants like Gene Kelly, born in Pittsburgh in 1912. Kelly grew up in a working-class neighborhood and gravitated more toward dancing than sports. He left for Broadway in 1930, and eventually made it to Hollywood and his film debut opposite Judy Garland in 1942. His greatest role was in 1952, starring, directing, and choreographing the iconic musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Ironically, there is a statue of Gene Kelly in his famous pole-swinging pose from “Singin’” in London’s Leicester Square. Pittsburgh, however, will have to wait a while longer.
- Detroit, MI. The Renaissance Center complex, or simply Ren Cen, as it is often called, is on the Detroit International Riverfront and is owned by General Motors as its world headquarters. The complex includes a 73-story hotel and occupies more than 14 acres of land. Its name originates with a 1971 initiative by civic leaders to move Detroit past the challenges of the 1967 Detroit uprising. This group formed a coalition called “Detroit Renaissance.” They announced plans for an ambitious three-phase project that would transform Detroit’s skyline and, hopefully, set the city on the road to revitalization. The first tower opened in 1976, followed by later buildings in 1977 and 1981.