Roanoke is even mentioned a several times, a few of those being the now-infamous "best places to live" lists. Not directly mentioned on the lists, but referred to in a positive light.
This thread about a city in slightly worse shape than Roanoke - but on par in terms of population problems and such, is fascinating - especially the comments. The city in question is Cheektowaga, NY - a suburb (if one can call it that) of Buffalo, NY.
Reading through comments like "Western New York is generally built upon polarization; a perfect
example is Rochester vs. Buffalo. People are so bent on competing
against each other (especially in Albany) that no one will ever win
because every step forward is a step back at the same time," strikes me as reminiscent of Roanoke.
But one line stands out, taken out of context but within the larger topic of making Roanoke attractive and 'cool'. "There is no "there" there."
Big picture.. you want to go out and have some fun, maybe a drink and some food - maybe see a band play. Do you go there? Where is there? We don't have a "there."
We have a section of town that used to be 'there'. (As in "I'll meet you there." where both parties know where there is.) Now we have the mall, the area around the mall, the downtown (which is deeply lacking in basic services), and the place where we go to buy food.
Thats Roanoke in a nutshell. Ignoring the mountain, the zoo and the rest. Ignore what we know we have, but tend not to use - and focus on what we need and would use, but do not have.
Anyway, it's an interesting read.