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Old 04-21-2013, 07:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
I feel like I've often seen people refer to Boston as small. People also seem to refer to DC and Philadelphia as large.

I spent a small amount of time in Philly and DC over the last few days. I drove into University City for Philadelphia, and walked around there for awhile. Then drove through Center City, parked, saw the liberty bell, walked down Market street a little ways, then left. For DC, I parked at Silver Springs, took the red line to Dupont Circle, took a bus to Georgetown, walked around there a bit, crossed to Rosslyn where I got the subway to Smithsonian, saw the monuments, walked to Metro Center, and took the red line back to Silver Springs.

At no point did either city strike me as being larger than Boston, as I was expecting.

I didn't see much of the cities to really say that I know what I'm talking about, so I decided to look at google maps (all three shots are from the same distance away):

Philadelphia

Washington DC

Boston

And they still didn't seem all that different.

.

Just for comparison, here are....

New York

Chicago

.

So what do other people think? Are DC and Philadelphia really larger than Boston?

And if you want (though it might overlap with the "which is more urban" threads) which city feels largest? What is the second largest city on the east coast?
The distance from Somerton in far northeast Philadelphia (part of the city limits) to center city is the same distance of Dedham, MA to Revere, MA and this distance covers up the entire city proper of Boston diagonally in length plus some of its suburbs. So I would say Philadelphia's size definitely feels much larger than Boston.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:32 AM
 
Location: The City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
I feel like I should add a bit more to my credibility with some pictures (the last one was taken with my iphone, so its not quite as clear):

DC



Philadelphia



Boston




And people have been posting the actual numerical sizes of the cities (and based on my origional post I can see why)

But what I was really trying to get at/ what I was really wondering was the level of continuity of the metro area. I'm not just wondering about the downtown, but also the entire metro area.

I was driving into Philadelphia on the Schuylkill expressway and there was practically no development until (I think it was) Germantown on the left. Then leaving to the south on I-95 (passing by the eagles stadium) there was also practically no development.

DC was more continuos, but I stil felt like there were certain areas were there were little patches of not-so-connected urban areas (I'm thinking of the view from the Fort Totten Metro stop).

Boston on the other hand has continuos sprawl in all directions Moreso to the west and north but also to the south.

Maybe I just didn't drive through the cities' suburbs?



But that's the thing, look at the google maps. Boston looks bigger than DC, and about the same size as (maybe a bit bigger than) Philly (though differently shaped) which doesn't really make sense.






This makes me sad. I could only spend a couple hours in Philadelphia because I had to rush out to Baltimore. I'll have to look around more next time.
Just a couple of things and nice pics BTW, though the 1400 block of Chestnut is just kind of meh (though there is a 600ft W about to start contruction behind the Ritz condo tower (not pictured but just to the left of where snapped your shot)

Philly is a weird city from the highways, think it gives off a smaller impression.

The approach from 76 (The Schuylkill) brings you through Fairmont park and looks basically not developed because the approach come through a very large urban park. Though the skyline and views of boathouse row and the Art Museum can be nice. Also leaving south on 95 only goes a few miles to the city border. Also on 76 - the road hugs the river and just above the river valley are very developed areas yet the ride mostly seems like a park in some ways from basically Conshy to Boat House row save a few buildings in Manyunk or Bala at City Line ave then back into fairmont park. Drive 95 from Street road to Center city and you can see the expanse of the city much better.

Also many people come in either the Ben Franklin or Walt Whitman bridge from Jersey which alos miss a lot of the development.

If you went North on 95 there is miles and miles rowhomes. Even a better way to get the scale of the City is broad from the stadiums to the Boulevard then the Boulevard into NE Philly - you can drive for about 18 miles of nearly continuous rowhouse development - something that to me shows the difference in scale of the cities. Albeit not Chicago but a little lareger than either DC or Boston which to me are similar albeit a little different pattern.

On these they are really close (with SF to me in about the same scale) but I find Philly and SF to be a little larger than either Boston or DC thouigh all are somewhat comparable.

Another thing relative to the others is for whatever reason highways even in the burbs for Philly tend to hide the development more than the others. Many highways were deliberately built around the more concentrated suburban clusters and dont really showcase them for whatever reason.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Center City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
I was driving into Philadelphia on the Schuylkill expressway and there was practically no development until (I think it was) Germantown on the left. Then leaving to the south on I-95 (passing by the eagles stadium) there was also practically no development.
I have the same impression on these particular approaches. As kp posted immediately above, the approach to Philly on these 95 and 76 (except for 95 from the north) gives me the same impression that development is rather compressed. Compounding my view is that I moved here from Houston 2+ years ago, where low rise development accompanied by billboards seemingly sprawled forever in all directions. Since living here, however, I have come to understand how the concentration of development flows. Unlike in Houston where development followed the freeways, one must get off the interstates to experience the connectedness of the Philly metro. I don't venture into the suburbs very often, but I do see a pretty consistent and connected concentration of development extending east to west (Main Line extending into the NJ suburbs).

Looking at a north-south axis, I initially saw the denser development when heading north than south. Like you, it appears to me to peter out at the stadiums when going south. That said, this is misleading, as just after the stadiums, 95 threads the boundaries of the airport on one side and the rather large the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge on the other (http://goo.gl/maps/EU97E). As you can see on that map link, just on the other side of the preserve and not visible from the highway are the Delaware County suburbs which extend pretty much right into Wilmington, though nicely out of view along 95 (except for around Chester) Going north however is another story. We made the 30 mile trip to Dolyestown one time, which seemed continuously developed along the whole route to me: http://goo.gl/maps/n0Ul9. To offer you perspective as a Bostonian, I would say this particular trip gave me a similar feel as when driving north from Logan on Route 1, but with more stop lights.

Last edited by Pine to Vine; 04-21-2013 at 10:23 AM..
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Boston
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I think Boston feels the smallest of the group as a metro area for a number of reasons. for starters, Boston is developed differently than the other two. It sprawls mostly at a lower density with pockets (namely, older cities) of high density. I think both Philadelphia and DC have more development, particularly suburban office, in the suburbs than Boston. They have variations, of course, but they sprawl at a more consistent rate than Boston.

Metro Boston is really a collection of older cities and towns that have been absorbed by a growing metro area. You have very high populations/densities in communities like Worcester (technically metro Boston), Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, Lynn, Brockton, etc. Not to mention the separate municipalities that are really just urban extensions of Boston like Quincy, Cambridge, Somerville, etc. Because you have some many "suburban" concentrations of high population density, the bulk of that metropolitan land area is fairly low density suburban. Boston's not as chalk full of cul-de-sacs and newer massive developments like DC has in Rockville, Tyson's Corner, Bethesda, National Harbor, etc. Just a few miles outside of central Boston and you hit communities like Milton, Canton, Westwood, Weston, Lincoln, etc. that resemble exurban communities in DC/Philly more than they resemble suburbs close to a major city center. I think you can see this pretty clearly by looking at google or bing maps.

I think Downtown DC is more sprawling than either Boston or Philadelphia. The reason for this is simple. Height restrictions in DC mean that the downtown area has to cover more land area in order to equal/surpass the square footage of office space in downtown Philadelphia or downtown Boston. The result is that downtown DC feels larger to pedestrians than the other two. It just covers a larger area. Downtown Philadelphia feels the second largest of the bunch and I think downtown Boston feels the smallest.

The Grids of DC and Philly make them feel larger than Boston as well. I think the canyons formed in the urban core of both Philly and DC give the impression of endless urbanity. Boston's curved streets in the city center close off the space and make it feel more intimate.

Geography also plays a big role. Central Boston is literally surrounded by water on 3 sides. The Charles River to the north, Boston Harbor to the east and the Ft. Point Channel to the south. This really impacts visitors the most as tourists without a destination are more likely to be turned around by such boundaries. The result is that most visitors to central Boston are "confined" to a small area of the city center by water. In DC and Philadelphia, it's much easier to wander in almost any direction out of the city center into the neighborhoods beyond. Obviously, that makes Philly and DC feel as if they are larger. Much of urban Boston (i.e. Cambridge, South Boston, East Boston, Charlestown, etc.) is literally disconnected from the city center and many visitors never get to any of those areas as a result. The geography of Boston definitely makes it feel smaller.

While I would put all of these cities in the same category as far as size goes, I think Philly and DC definitely feel bigger than Boston. Boston, of course is smaller on paper so that plays a role (although not as big as the others in my opinion). In my experience, regardless of the numbers, Philadelphia feels quite a bit bigger than both DC or Boston. I'm sure others will debate that, but that's my experience. On paper, Philadelphia is bigger as well. Still, they're in the same class and as such, people may feel differently about the size of each.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:12 PM
 
Location: New London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidphilly View Post
Just a couple of things and nice pics BTW, though the 1400 block of Chestnut is just kind of meh (though there is a 600ft W about to start contruction behind the Ritz condo tower (not pictured but just to the left of where snapped your shot)

Philly is a weird city from the highways, think it gives off a smaller impression.

The approach from 76 (The Schuylkill) brings you through Fairmont park and looks basically not developed because the approach come through a very large urban park. Though the skyline and views of boathouse row and the Art Museum can be nice. Also leaving south on 95 only goes a few miles to the city border. Also on 76 - the road hugs the river and just above the river valley are very developed areas yet the ride mostly seems like a park in some ways from basically Conshy to Boat House row save a few buildings in Manyunk or Bala at City Line ave then back into fairmont park. Drive 95 from Street road to Center city and you can see the expanse of the city much better.

Also many people come in either the Ben Franklin or Walt Whitman bridge from Jersey which alos miss a lot of the development.

If you went North on 95 there is miles and miles rowhomes. Even a better way to get the scale of the City is broad from the stadiums to the Boulevard then the Boulevard into NE Philly - you can drive for about 18 miles of nearly continuous rowhouse development - something that to me shows the difference in scale of the cities. Albeit not Chicago but a little lareger than either DC or Boston which to me are similar albeit a little different pattern.

On these they are really close (with SF to me in about the same scale) but I find Philly and SF to be a little larger than either Boston or DC thouigh all are somewhat comparable.

Another thing relative to the others is for whatever reason highways even in the burbs for Philly tend to hide the development more than the others. Many highways were deliberately built around the more concentrated suburban clusters and dont really showcase them for whatever reason.
This sounds about right, thanks for clearing things up.

I figured something like that was happening (with the highways just happening to go through less developed parts of the city. Comprable, I guess, to entering Boston through the blue hills park. It just surprised me when my gps said I had 10min to Center City, and I still hadn't seen any houses. And then leaving to the south I was hoping for a view similar to leaving Boston to the south, when you can look across Roxbury/the South End with the skyline in the background. There was a large brown barrier for the immediate exit, then when the barrier went down there was nothing but the stadium. I'll have to try some other places next time I visit.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:02 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post

I was driving into Philadelphia on the Schuylkill expressway and there was practically no development until (I think it was) Germantown on the left.
The first development you should see is the King of Prussia/Conshohocken area. Once you get into the city, you see Roxborough and Manayunk and the Northwest section on your left, but through most of the drive, you won't see much development because you are driving through the massive Fairmount Park until you hit Center City/University City.

Quote:
Then leaving to the south on I-95 (passing by the eagles stadium) there was also practically no development.
Again, the Sports Complex is mostly parking lots to cater to the suburban residents coming in to see the games. The Navy Yard is just starting to develop. Before the sports complex, South Philadelphia is very heavily developed, but you can't see most of it because of the sound walls on the side of I-95. After the Sports Complex, you drive through the Philly Ports/Navy Yard, Industrial Lands, Swamp and Marsh lands and the Philadelphia International Airport... you won't see much development again until you pass that and get out into Chester.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:52 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
This sounds about right, thanks for clearing things up.

I figured something like that was happening (with the highways just happening to go through less developed parts of the city. Comprable, I guess, to entering Boston through the blue hills park. It just surprised me when my gps said I had 10min to Center City, and I still hadn't seen any houses. And then leaving to the south I was hoping for a view similar to leaving Boston to the south, when you can look across Roxbury/the South End with the skyline in the background. There was a large brown barrier for the immediate exit, then when the barrier went down there was nothing but the stadium. I'll have to try some other places next time I visit.
Actually... when passing the stadiums, if you look to your right, you would've seen the skyline.

To me, Philadelphia's urbanity is just much greater than these two cities:


Aerial View, South Philadelphia & Skyline | TIA INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

You can see in this picture, the park you drove into the city through:

Aerial Photos of Philadelphia for the Center City District | Imagic Digital Blog
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
I spent a small amount of time in Philly and DC over the last few days. I drove into University City for Philadelphia, and walked around there for awhile. Then drove through Center City, parked, saw the liberty bell, walked down Market street a little ways, then left. For DC, I parked at Silver Springs, took the red line to Dupont Circle, took a bus to Georgetown, walked around there a bit, crossed to Rosslyn where I got the subway to Smithsonian, saw the monuments, walked to Metro Center, and took the red line back to Silver Springs.

At no point did either city strike me as being larger than Boston, as I was expecting.
I know the feeling. When I walk around in Barbados, it really feels no smaller than Canada. I get just as tired walking there as I would walking in Canada, so I don't see why people often emphasize the size disparity when comparing the two. Anyway you slice it, 166 square miles is a lot of territory to cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iAMtheVVALRUS View Post
That's what I figured and that's exactly my point. In Boston there are practically no areas around the city that are so massively undeveloped close to the city( to the north there's Cambridge, Somerville, etc, to the west there's Newton, Natick, Framingham, etc. to the south there's Milton, Quincy, etc). Even Foxboro, where our football stadium is, is also a developed town with people living in it. Therefore I feel like metro Boston seems bigger than greater Philly because it's more continuous.
Couldn't you go to New York and say the same thing?

I didn't see any development along the NJ Turnpike. All I saw were oil refineries, an airport, and swamp marsh. I saw no development until I crossed the George Washington Bridge. But then we turned around and headed back out to Jersey. Again, there was just a lot less development than I thought there would be.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:02 PM
 
Location: The City
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Saw this image and thought of this thread

View from my roof top. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:58 PM
 
Location: New London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I know the feeling. When I walk around in Barbados, it really feels no smaller than Canada. I get just as tired walking there as I would walking in Canada, so I don't see why people often emphasize the size disparity when comparing the two. Anyway you slice it, 166 square miles is a lot of territory to cover.
facetious: a nine letter word meaning "treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor"

Anyway, DC didn't seem smaller to me because I stopped and said "I only see as much here as I would see in Boston".

It confused me because looking out y window while riding the elevated subway(Fort Totten is the picture I have in my mind), I just saw massive swaths of trees and thought "there are supposed to be 2,000,000 more people living in this metro area than in Boston's metro: where are they?" It's possible, I guess, that metro DC isn't as sprawly as metro Boston, which is why there can be such large amounts f nothing, but I just found it surprising. Here's a pic, I suppose http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1I0m2THeKv...22Sept2012.jpg

In hindsight, maybe that stop was similar to the Eliot or Chesnut Hill stops on Boston's D line, and fate just happened to give me that view.

Quote:
Couldn't you go to New York and say the same thing?

I didn't see any development along the NJ Turnpike. All I saw were oil refineries, an airport, and swamp marsh. I saw no development until I crossed the George Washington Bridge. But then we turned around and headed back out to Jersey. Again, there was just a lot less development than I thought there would be.
Maybe, I guess I'm just not that used to having so much epmty space so close to a major city. For comparison, my GPS told me that I had 10min to Center City Philadelphia and until that time I had only seen one rather dense neighborhood to my left across the river, and I turned a corner and there was downtown with nothing seperating me from it except highway.

If one were driving east towards Boston on the highway, you would hit West Newton a good 20-30min before you got to downtown Boston and you'd also have to drive through Brighton, Allston, and Fenway, before actually arriving in Downton Crossing.

I guess I'm not used to cities having sprawl in only one direction. Granted, is the expressway had gone through a park, it would make more sense, as there's also a park south of Boston. Still, I think the distance from the end of the Blue Hills area to downtown Boston is greater than the distance from the end of this Fairmount Park and downtown Philadelphia.
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