Three years ago today, I was wandering around downtown Utica for the very first time, determined to find the hidden gems in a city that, frankly, had a terrible reputation. What I found on that day was that those gems weren’t so hidden… any willingness to talk to the people or see the efforts to create a meaningful downtown revival were rewarded with a fun, genuinely local experience.
From chicken riggies to my first Utica Club at Saranac and beautiful art at the MWPAI, to an unbelievable dinner at the Tailor & The Cook and beyond, my first trip to Utica began a journey that led to the birth of The Urban Phoenix. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting amazing friends along the way, and I could not be happier.
350,000 views later, I’m honored to say that The UP has become one of Upstate New York’s most frequented blogs. In three years, the blog has transitioned from stories of urban revival to the key topics, issues and conversations swirling around city revitalization across the country. The celebration of our upstate NY cities was the key that started the engine, but the destination for this blog today continues to be addressing the elements of what makes our cities better places to live, work and play, both for now and for the future.
I had no idea where this journey was going to take me, but it’s been the greatest adventure. I want to thank everyone who makes The Urban Phoenix a small part of their lives, but I especially want to thank the good people that have followed me from the beginning and continue to champion the ideas behind creating stronger communities.
Today, the UP is read across the country with the help of Strong Towns, a national blog of which I am a regular contributor. Through Strong Towns, the UP has been able to spread its wings and its message of building lasting, sustainable downtown revivals all over the country. While my posts don’t always get shared as much as when I first started visiting cities, I truly believe the message is one that can help all of us understand our urban centers better. The key is to remain positive about our futures, but to continue to ask the hard questions that revolve around how to continue our urban momentum into the days ahead.
You made this possible, and you changed my life. Thank you so much for reading The Urban Phoenix. I can’t wait to continue to this journey together. Stay tuned, we have some very interesting things planned for 2018!