Thursday I had coffee at Grounds for Coffee on 25th Street, then wandered past the shops, restaurants and businesses to Ron Inkley's Imaging Depot for a roll of film I had developed.
Read that paragraph again. Twelve years ago the walk I took was vastly different.
Sadie Clifford's coffee shop didn't exist. Ron Inkley's place was a run-down bus station. Almost none of the shops, stores and restaurants in between were there.
Much of the block between Lincoln and Wall was a vacant lot. Many more storefronts were empty. Two blocks over, the Ogden City Mall was a shell. The area was safe, but not exactly inviting.
Then Matt Godfrey got elected mayor, and now I can buy beer supplies and eat sushi after my film is done.
Coincidence? Answer this: Who would they blame if the street was still a dump?
Now, let's be clear here: Godfrey, who leaves office Tuesday, was a jerk in many ways.
I will never forgive how he and developer Chris Peterson tried to weasel a gondola easement up Taylor Canyon past the U.S. Forest Service. He tried to ram that same gondola plan through in the face of fiscal impossibility and public outrage.
His imperious way of announcing decisions -- plans to close the Marshall White Center -- without public input was rude. As thoroughly documented by WSU Physics Professor Dan Schroeder, Matt played loose with election laws.
As I said: Total jerk. And yet, look around.
Downtown Ogden is an incredibly pleasant place. Some still call Ogden "Bumtown," but I don't see it.
Neither do others. A clerk at Sam Weller's bookstore on Main Street, Salt Lake City, nodded at the panhandlers outside his front door and said Ogden is a lot nicer. Those sidewalk dwellers are one reason Sam Weller's is moving to Trolley Square.
Meanwhile, The Junction booms and Two-Bit Street adds stores.
I did almost all my shopping on the street this Christmas. Green the World gift shop just opened. Queen Bee is a delight. Two Bit Street and Karen's Cafe are just two of many excellent locally owned sandwich shops and restaurants.
Some say The Junction is a garish example of public funds competing with private enterprise.
My response: Private enterprise had its chance.
The Egyptian Theater's renovation was supposed to kick off private investment. So was the Eccles Conference Center. So was Lindquist Field and the new Weber Center office building.
Private enterprise preferred big box stores in Riverdale, Harrisville and all over Davis County.
Vigorous publicly funded promotion revived the central city. Godfrey's outdoor recreation emphasis worked.
Godfrey was the most divisive mayor I've seen in 34 years. His re-election bids were battles between "pro" and "anyone but Matt" camps. An entire website is dedicated to hating "Boss Godfrey." Change means debate, but the intensity of the vitriol made me feel sorry for the guy, a bit.
After I got my pictures, I chatted with Ron Inkley, who has been in business in Ogden more than 50 years running camera stores bearing his name. His new place, with a great view of shoppers strolling Two-Bit Street, is doing well.
What does he think of Godfrey?
"I like him," Ron said.
He pointed a block north toward the Junction.
"Look over there. All the cars and people downtown every night," proof that Godfrey changed things.
"He stirred things up. Sometimes that's what it takes. I knew the mayors before him. They were nice guys, but they didn't get anything done."