Shenzhen, China's rapid growth makes a mockery of Louisville's 'Possibility City' slogan

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Some facts about Shenzhen, China, one of the world's largest cities you've never heard of:
  • Population in 1979: 25,000
  • Population in 2007: 14 million
  • Tallest building in 1979: 5-story military barrack
  • Tallest building in 2009: 69-story Shun Hing Square
  • Compound annual economic growth between 1979 and 1989: 49.7 percent
  • Number of times I fell asleep during a one-hour massage at the Ritz-Carlton Shenzhen's spa: two
Now, if Shenzhen can achieve such growth in 30 years (just 10 years longer than Mayor Jerry Abramson has been in office), why the heck can't Louisville settle the Ohio River bridges issue? In April 1979 Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping declared the area--Shenzhen, not Louisville--a Special Economic Zone with a more capitalist bent than the rest of the People's Republic. In the next 30 years, the city exploded from a small fishing village to a metropolis with 1.5 times the population of New York City and became the richest city in China. Just something to keep in mind the next time a Louisville politician brags about economic development in terms of drawing chain restaurants to Fourth Street. For more information: Read about how the Kentucky Derby puts Louisville on the map in Shenzhen, China. (Photo: Zach Everson)