Who birthed Midtown

September 30, 2009 

You know an idea has succeeded when people disagree about who should get credit for it.

So it is for Midtown Raleigh, the name The News & Observer and others have given to an ill-defined middle section of the Capital City.

A front-page article here last week about Raleigh's new Midtown Community Church noted the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce's efforts, beginning in 2005, to popularize "Midtown" for marketing purposes.

As Dan Holly's article noted, the Chamber declared then that Midtown stretched from Five Points to Millbrook Road. Chamber President Harvey Schmitt also said Midtown's heart is John Kane's North Hills development at Six Forks Road and the Beltline. He credited Kane with promoting "Midtown."

Not so fast, Mitchell Silver, Raleigh's planning director, objected after publication.

Silver said he and the developers of the Soleil Center, then planned for Crabtree Valley, first promoted "Midtown Raleigh" in 2005. Kane later embraced the idea, he said.

Silver says he first pitched the "Midtown" moniker while applying for his job in 2005.

And Raleigh's recently revised Comprehensive Plan, a long-range growth guide Silver shepherded, further promotes Midtown's identity.

But upon reflection, Silver offered a gentlemen's truce.

"The Chamber and I were on separate tracks pursuing the same thing," he said.

Schmitt said he never perceived a conflict. "I don't care who gets credit for it," he said.

Their authorial armistice seems a durable détente for Midtown's mutual midwives.

I imagine Schmitt as Charles Darwin and Silver as Alfred Wallace, independently developing theories of evolution.

Or Silver as Sir Isaac Newton and Schmitt as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the coincident inventors of calculus.

Inasmuch as their peace settlement ensued via phone calls and text messages, let us celebrate The Treaty of Verizon.

Our Code War has ended! Long live Midtown Raleigh!

Wherever it is.

matthew.eisley@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4538

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service