As the founder of the weekly Spectator in 1978 and the Triangle Business Journal in 1984, I founded the editorial engine that covered the rising tide of Triangle identity (“The breaking point,” by Bob Geary, cover story, March 5). Then, each city recognized it needed the others to create a metropolitan footprint, adding quantitative muscle to the region’s obvious qualitative demographics. Ironically, as the cities of the Triangle grew, the less they relied on each other for their growth and prosperity.
But Durham exacerbated the breakdown of regional unity. In the early ’90s, the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, under the leadership of Reyn Bowman, set out to separate Durham from Triangle cooperation, including a campaign to assert Durham’s identity whenever he felt the Bull City was slighted.
Instead of being ranked in the top 30 U.S. urban areas, Raleigh is now designated as Raleigh-Cary and ranked 59th. No wonder the Federal Transportation Authority looks askance at regional rail transit.
Geary states that Research Triangle Park helped create a “hole” in the center of the Triangle donut since its founders did not allow development within RTP. The reason was actually prescient. They did not want highly paid tech workers creating a demographic redoubt isolated from citizens of the surrounding cities. This reality is why the Triangle has enjoyed prosperous growth throughout the regionand reinforces the very thing we seem to deprecate in our zeal to control population patterns via rail transit: neighborhoods.