Monday, December 18, 2006

More love for Smiley

Check out what Gordon Iseminger, a distinguished history professor at UND, has to say about Smiley's place in our community. Kudos to Iseminger for taking the time to put his feelings into words.

Some excerpts:

"In one breath, these individuals profess the need to make Grand Forks a destination city and, in the next, they call for the demolition of the very structures that make the city distinctive, the historic structures that would draw visitors and revenue to the city."
"Tourism is North Dakota's second major industry, and those in state government do not insist that historic landmarks and natural formations pay their own way. The Badlands and the Burning Lignite Beds do not generate rent. The statues of Sakakawea and Gov. John Burke on the state Capitol grounds do not return a profit. All, however, pay dividends by drawing tourists to the state."
"For the “bargain” price of $50,000, the cost of demolishing Smiley, the city will gain an unattractive, bare piece of ground, unsuitable for anything. For $200,000, the cost of preservation, the city will preserve a landmark that has greeted tens of thousands of people for decades and which will continue to do so as the city fulfills the dream of those who want to make it a destination city."


Coffee Guy said...

I laughed out loud when I read the dubious comparison of Smiley to the Badlands, as far as "value" and "worth" are concerned.

Saying "Tourism is North Dakota's second major industry" is fine, but I think the author's intent, to raise a few eyebrows with this factoid, fails when when you realize that this is most likely the case for every state in the US. I just Googled a state at random, one that I would not imagine having a massive tourism industry, Arkansas. Tourism is the third largest industry in Arkansas, generating $4 billion in annual revenue.

North Dakota's tourism industry generates $3 billion a year. Checking out the site, I notice that Smiley/water tower does not even come up in the search results I found. Even the North Dakota Dept. of Commerce, Tourism Division doesn't think Smiley is worth mentioning, or they know that it really doesn't generate any significant tourism revenue for the state.

If you guys really want to save Smiley, you need to get to Bismarck and have Smiley declared a state treasure (or whatever they call it in ND). Then you'll get your funds to have it preserved for all time.

Anonymous said...

GF Smiley water tower listed on Roadside

Didn't see it listed anwhere near Grumpy Old Coffee Lovers.

Coffee Guy said...

HEY! I'm not yet 40!! I am grumpy, however. :)

I didn't say it wasn't a roadside attraction, as it certainly is. I just find it interesting that some in the "Save Smiley" crowd consider it to be such a draw (and drag out a Badlands comparison) yet our own state doesn't think it's worth mentioning. I think that's where the problem and solution lies.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

good people of grand forks. this is earl pommeroy and i demand smiley be saved. george bush said so too.

Anonymous said...

and ben as well.