TAMPA — While local boosters were getting ready to unveil a new brand for the Tampa Bay area, the New York Times was doing the region's reputation no favors.
In a review of George Packer's new book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, the newspaper on Wednesday said Tampa "had problems before the foreclosure crisis and seems like hell on earth now."
Tampa appears in a series of chapters that touch on the foreclosure crisis, the defeat of light rail in Hillsborough County, the rise of the tea party, the difficulty of climbing out of poverty and the spectacle of the Republican National Convention. But it is an initial 18-page chapter on the place that reads like a prosecutor's indictment.
A staff writer for The New Yorker, Packer writes that "Tampa would continue to grow, and by growing, become great" and, moreover, that "it grew in order to grow."
But he also writes that the plan failed.
"Tampa had tried to take a shortcut to greatness, but that never worked," he writes. "Its downtown had no coherence, nothing to attract people beyond an office job, a hockey game, or a court case."