In some cases, the features that define a place as culturally distinct derive from demography, as in a traditionally ethnic neighborhood. But there are many other ways to express a local identity. Consider these examples:
As illustrated in the previous story on Paseo Boricua, the Puerto Rican flag became a powerful symbol demarcating the neighborhood and serving as a important visible sign of neighborhood pride.
In Dallas, the flying Pegasus sign on the Magnolia Oil Building became an icon for downtown regeneration as a whole. The Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, a local organization that aims to “enrich and deepen the practical life of the city with the founding knowledge of the humanities,” took note of the mythology of Pegasus, who the Gods struck down to earth so that the waters of imagination might spring forth from where his hooves touched the ground. They saw the potential for this idea to characterize the personality of Dallas as a whole and inspire redevelopment efforts, and along with the original sign being restored, the Pegasus became an important new focal point that was replicated on other buildings, in parks, in the design of a new bridge and throughout downtown as a visible symbol among city boosters. The city has successfully branded many of its redevelopment efforts with this symbol.
In Miami, the Arscht Art Center is a treasured resource. The city is working to improve access to this resource through a signature bridge. For more information about this project, read its NEA profile.
In Oakland’s Chinatown, an elaborate crosswalk nodding to Chinese heritage (profiled here under a different approach) has not only improved safety after a pedestrian fatality but has attracted positive attention. The first approach outlined in this resource, Identify A Community’s Assets, is a good way to develop a better understanding of local priorities.