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6 Ways Cities Are Getting Into the Attention-Whore Game

#3.
"Name-Change" Stunts

One thing that's guaranteed to get a city or town in the news is changing its name to something stupid and gimmicky, even temporarily. Because news articles don't have to put the "temporary" part in the headline, and people are so sick of nasty, self-serving "I'm going to burn a Koran" or "I'm Snooki" type attention grabs that they're just happy to read about a tame, harmless publicity stunt.


After a week of this, wouldn't you be glad to read a story about a town called "Farts" or something?

A while ago, Topeka, Kansas changed its name to "Google" for a month, as an attempt to get Google to pick their city for a pilot program where they'd wire up a city with fiber-optics for free. It got Google's attention enough that Google changed its name to "Topeka" for April Fool's Day:

... but as for the fiber-optic winners, well, nine months later, Google is still thinking about it.

Elsewhere, Ismay, Montana renamed itself "Joe," after the legendary quarterback Joe Montana.

Joe Montana wasn't born there and has no connection to the place, and the whole idea actually came about because of a radio station stunt. Nevertheless, apparently every news outlet had to pounce on this. According to the town clerk: "HBO is talking about us on television, we were on CNN, in Newsweek, on NBC Nightly News and now I am talking to Seattle."

Other name-changing municipalities include Richland, New Jersey becoming "Mojito," due to a Bacardi sponsorship, Hot Springs, New Mexico becoming "Truth or Consequences," after the game show, Halfway, Oregon becoming Half.com in return for money, and Clark, Texas becoming DISH in exchange for free satellite TV.


Classy.

#2.
Begging Shamelessly To Host World Events

Nothing brings out the whore in a city like a chance to host a world event, like the Olympics, or the World Cup. San Francisco spent the past month hyperventilating about whether they would get the America's Cup yacht race while the organizers played them against Rhode Island of all places, to try to get a better deal.


One of the committee's biggest concerns was how the boats would get up the hills.

The recent awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup events to Russia and Qatar was such a big deal that even American sports fans got upset, despite not knowing which sport the World Cup was for (half thought it was Quidditch).


There actually is a real Quidditch World Cup championship. Unfortunately it looks like this.

Competing for the Olympics also brings out the worst in organizing committees, with at least one big bribery scandal and apparently many smarter bribers who don't get caught.


Pro Tip: Try handing it off UNDER the table.

But it's all worth it, they promise, because the Olympics or World Cup or International Frog Racing Championship is going to raise your city's (or country's) profile and bring in tons of tourist money and everything in the host cities will be rebuilt new and shiny with those tourist dollars. Your city will hit the jackpot.

Unfortunately, history shows that's not true. More often than not, the Olympics ends up costing countries more money than they bring in. The World Cup isn't much better, with one analysis showing that the 1994 U.S.-hosted World Cup lost all the host cities $5.6 billion - $9 billion combined, with the average host city losing $712 million while misleading millions of American youngsters into believing that soccer is an important sport.


Even after they saw the uniforms.

Another analysis shows that host countries' economies actually underperform the world average the year before and after they host the World Cup). If you're lucky, visitors spend just enough to cover your expenses while they're there, and then after the event they forget you exist.

All a city is really guaranteed to get out of one of these international events is civic pride, and if they're cool with throwing away a lot of money to feel good about themselves, so be it. But it seems like every time one of these things are up for grabs, some politician is doing their version of the Simpsons' Monorail song-and-dance promising world fame and gold falling from the skies, and the whole city falls for it.

#1.
Imitation Space Needles

And here is where things take a turn for the oddly specific.

It used to be a thing that when a city hosted a World's Fair, they'd build an impressive, attention-grabbing structure of some sort -- that's how Paris wound up with the Eiffel Tower, for instance. Well, in 1962, Seattle went with the Space Needle.

Space was very cool at the time and they built a fairly elegant Jetsons-esque tower with a rotating restaurant at the top and a temporary elevator until flying cars were invented, which will be any day now. It's been there ever since and is a defining part of the Seattle skyline, causing other cities to sit up and take notes on how to make a cityscape look memorable and unique.

So six years later, San Antonio built this for their World's Fair:

"What, the building next to the air traffic control tower?" you might be wondering, but no, that tower is their 1968 World's Fair attraction, the "Tower of the Americas". San Antonio wasn't the last city to try to make its skyline unique by copying the most distinctive feature of another city's skyline, either. There's also Calgary:

And Macau:

Auckland:

Sydney:

And so on.

Some people might point out the Space Needle itself wasn't totally original and was actually based off a TV tower in Stuttgart, Germany but it was the first time a city tried to distinguish its skyline with an observation tower of that shape. Once the world associates a landmark with a city, everyone else is just going to look like copycats, hopping on board a trend like a high school kid wearing what the popular kid wears.

And in the end, I suppose being a cool city is like being a cool teenager. You've got to stop trying so hard and just be yourself. Unless you're Detroit.

Check out more from Christina in 8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews and The 6 (Wrong) Questions Men Love to Ask About Women.

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