South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks on as local high school choirs perform before his final State of the City address March 12 inside the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks on as local high school choirs perform before his final State of the City address March 12 inside the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
When he announced in January that he would explore a run for the White House, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared that he was leading “one of America’s turnaround cities.”

It’s a theme he has built his campaign around: he took office at a time when South Bend was at a depressing low and gradually revitalized his downtrodden hometown, bringing new life and energy to the city.

The jacket for his book, “Shortest Way Home,” even says South Bend “has miraculously become a blueprint for the future of American renewal.” 

The bold proclamations open the door to natural questions: Can cities be “miraculously” revived by mayors? How do you measure that?

Is South Bend really a turnaround city?

Some national media outlets have begun to pick at those questions. The answers are not always easy or clear. Indeed, any mayor’s legacy will be filled with successes and failures. And the analysis can be colored — or distorted — by political leanings and personal experiences.

The Tribune today offers a look at Buttigieg’s work in several key areas, from crime statistics, to neighborhood homes, to the shiny new buildings downtown.

We didn’t try to offer quick, easy answers.

But we hope you find the information to reach your own conclusions — or at least come away with a better understanding of our city’s accomplishments and the areas where it still needs work.

The links below will take you to individual stories on each topic.

Crime: Fewer crimes reported but shootings linger and fears remain for some.

Neighborhoods: What now after '1,000 houses in 1,000 days'?

Downtown: City core is transformed but challenges lie ahead.

By the numbers: Fans, critics spin stats to tell different tales. The truth is not so easy.

Parks/public spaces: Trying to create 'special places' to lure people to South Bend.

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