Whether it’s correcting the misspelling of their country’s name through social media, or revitalizing a city with a dark past, it seems that when Colombians come together there’s little they can’t do.
And the world is starting to notice. On Friday, Citi and the Marketing Services Department of the Wall Street Journal crowned Medellín, Colombia the “Innovative City of the Year,” beating out fellow finalists New York City and Tel Aviv.
In 2012, the banking group and newspaper partnered with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a non-profit research and education organization, to choose the world’s most innovative city based on its economy, urban development, culture/livability, technology and research, among other measures. (Check Out A Video Of The Process)
Known by Colombians as ‘The City of the Eternal Spring,’ Medellín was chosen for its progress, potential, “rich culture and impressive strides in urban development” in spite of a past of violence fueled by drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel.
“Few cities have transformed the way that Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, has in the past 20 years,” the Urban Land Institute wrote in a statement online. “Medellín’s homicide rate has plunged, nearly 80% from 1991 to 2010. The city built public libraries, parks, and schools in poor hillside neighborhoods and constructed a series of transportation links from there to its commercial and industrial centers.
The links include a metro cable car system and escalators up steep hills, reducing commutation times, spurring private investment, and promoting social equity as well as environmental sustainability. In 2012, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy recognized Medellín’s efforts with the Sustainable Transportation Award.”
ULI selected 200 cities in June 2012 based on the above criteria, and after two rounds of voting, three finalists were announced in October. The Colombian city was announced as the winner on March 1 with almost one million votes, and will be featured in the April issue of the WSJ magazine.