We get a daily delivery of a newspaper on actual paper, the New York Times, and the Sunday edition often includes sections particularly well-suited to print

Today was one of those days. There’s a 48-page section, “Meet Me Downtown,” meant to illustrate the premise that vibrancy is returning to the heart of American cities.

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Six pages in the very center of the section are devoted to Mountain View, Arkansas (population 2,873, the Google machine says.) There’s a double-truck centerspread photo of the town square,

The hill town has some fine company: Seattle, Chicago, Washington, Austin, Salt Lake City, Hartford, Lexington (Ky.), Peoria (Arizona,) and Nampa, Idaho. Mountain View is by far the smallest of the group. I’d never heard of those last two, but Nampa’s population is around 100,000 and Peoria’s around 200,000.

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There is a flashy display of the project online.

The introduction concludes:

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While some downtown areas remain empty and are struggling to bring back workers and tourists at prepandemic levels, many say they have come back even stronger and more resilient — drawing in tourists and new residents, even as many office workers stay home. While there’s no simple answer for why some places have rebounded while others limp along, their experiences reveal the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead for the country’s cities and towns.

The section on Mountain View recounts how people from “off” have moved into the Stone County town, opening an inn and places to eat. Even though it’s dry. (No margaritas at the new Mexican place.) There’s the obligatory mention of music. A slow pace is noted. “There’s no Chick-fil-A!”

 

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