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Richard M. Daley is spending his last week as Chicago mayor. As if to bid him goodbye, thousands of tulips have burst into bloom on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.

The two are closely related. In nearly 22 years as mayor, Daley made the beautification of the city a top priority in his efforts at economic redevelopment. If Chicago looked attractive, tourists and business travelers would be more likely to come, and residents would feel better about their city, or so he reasoned.

Changing Gears reporter Niala Boodhoo looked at Daley’s approach to beautification and his other efforts to spur development on the eve of Chicago’s mayoral election in February.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (Photo courtesy of Kate Gardiner, WBEZ Flickr)

On Monday, the public has been invited to bid farewell to Daley at City Hall from 1 pm to 4 pm. He’ll be succeeded next Monday by Rahm Emanuel, the former Congressman and White House Chief of Staff.

Daley is far from alone in using beautification as an approach to attracting visitors and business. Last week, Holland, Mich., kicked off its annual Tulip Festival, which attracts more than 500,000 a year to the town on Lake Michigan. The festival, which began in 1927, runs through Saturday.

Farther afield, Ottawa, Ontario, is celebrating its own tulip festival through May 23. The Canadian capital is awash in tulips each year, thanks to the gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs from The Netherlands marking the close association between Holland and Canada during World War II.

And New Yorkers look forward to the annual displays of tulips and other flowers on Park Avenue and at Rockefeller Center. This year’s tulips were orange, planted in honor of the Netherlands.

Does your Midwest city make an effort to spruce up its downtown? What does it plant — and do you think it makes a difference

Send your pictures to changinggears@umich.edu and we’ll post them here.