Years ago, in addition to being a blogger, I was also an activist. I fought against the dislocation of the former Hamilton Street merchants, as their properties were being assembled for the coming NIZ. They were threatened with eminent domain and other heavy handed tactics by City Hall. Those interested can find the stories here in this blog's archives, but not in the Morning Call, which was part and parcel of the NIZ from the get-go.
While those merchants were considered a "cancer" on Hamilton Street, the same merchants are now called a "success story" on 7th Street. On a recent post, someone comments that they will no longer patronize 7th Street, which they now consider rude, crude and dangerous.
In the 1970's, downtown Boston had a section called the combat zone. There, the riff-raff could enjoy themselves, and not despoil the upscale shops elsewhere in the city. We have created a combat zone in Allentown, called 7th Street. Credit a street manager with doing a great job dressing up the buildings, but the double parking attitude remains.
Unfortunately for Allentown, no upscale shopping has taken hold on Hamilton Street. But, actually the Hamilton Street NIZ wasn't really meant as an urban renewal project, but rather a privately owned, publicly financed, real estate bonanza for a few connected individuals. Again, it's a story you'll only find in this blog's archives.
photocredit:Boston Combat Zone/molovinsky