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View Poll Results: Which group of cities offers the better urban living experience?
Old School (Cleveland, Cincinnati, St Louis, Pittsburgh) 39 44.83%
New School (Denver, Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle) 48 55.17%
Voters: 87. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-15-2013, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Manhattan
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Downtown Urban Living - New. None of the older cities have as vibrant of downtowns as Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, or Denver. Pittsburgh and Cleveland have decent downtowns.

Urban Neighborhoods - New. City living has taken off more quickly in the newer cities than the older ones. They just have more neighborhoods that are vibrant.

Suburbs - Tie. All of the cities listed have nice suburbs.

Walkability - Tie. Residential areas in the older cities are more walkable due to denser housing, but commercial areas in the newer cities are more walkable due to a higher concentration of amenities.

Transit - New. The newer cities have better biking infrastructure and better mass transit overall. They generally have better freeways too.

Vibrancy - New. The other older cities feel much less vibrant than the newer ones. Pittsburgh is the only one of the older cities that I would really consider to be a vibrant city.

Restaurants/Nightlife - New. The newer cities have more young professionals, more artists, and are attracting more immigrants than the older ones, which all lead to having more varied restaurant and nightlife scenes.

Shopping - New. The older cities are generally lacking shopping districts in comparison to the newer ones.

Employment/Economy - New. Overall, the newer cities seem to have larger economies, faster economic growth, and lower unemployment.

Architecture - Old. The older cities have a good mix of both historic and new architecture, whereas the newer cities have a less balanced mix. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati all have some gorgeous areas.

Attractions/Amenities - New. The newer cities have larger urban populations, which allows them to have more attractions and amenities serving them.

Character - Tie. All of the cities on both lists have character, whether it's due to history, grit, art, intellect, creativity, quirks, diversity, music, etc.

Diversity - New. Portland isn't very diverse, but I think Seattle, Minneapolis, and Denver are at this point more diverse than Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. The newer cities also attract people from all over the country, whereas the older cities are mostly bringing in people from the surrounding areas.

Overall - New. The old cities have the bones to be great cities, but they have a long way to go. Pittsburgh seems to be on a pretty great upswing as of now and I don't think it's far behind the newer ones. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis are improving, but they're still quite a bit behind Pittsburgh. But as of now, Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, and Portland are the more vibrant cities, offer better urban living, and are becoming diverse at a quicker rate than the older ones.
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis (St. Louis Park)
5,991 posts, read 7,926,991 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheProf View Post
Cleveland has areas that are just as dense and look like this EVEN WITH some of its decaying neighborhoods (many of which have been spruced up with all new housing in the last few decades). I would argue that Ohio City, Detroit-Shoreway, Shaker Square and Little Italy/University Circle seem even denser than this area ... and are served by better transit, as in rail, BRT and 24-hour bus lines.

Minneapolis is admirably building/expanding LRT, but little of it (save the Central streetcar route to St. Paul) of it is serving its built up urban areas outside of downtown... The vote on the route for the planned SW LRT line was particularly disappointing. Planners chose an out-of-the-way RR route as opposed to straight down Nicolette past the busy Franklin corner, then due West along the Midtown Greenway serving such dense, walkable areas as Uptown.
Well I live in Cleveland and am from Minneapolis and I can confirm that these parts of Minneapolis (er, the densest parts of Mpls) have a higher population density than the parts of Cleveland you are referring to. They also feel denser. I will admit that much of Cleveland feels denser than Minneapolis, especially the average neighborhoods, and in their heyday I'd imagine that Cleveland was denser. Also, please don't boast about the Cleveland RTA bus system, which pales in comparison to the Metro Transit system in the Twin Cities. The reason transit planners chose the 3A alignment for the SW Cooridor (instead of 3C, through Uptown) was because of cost. Unlike Cleveland, the Twin Cities is building its rail WELL after the infrastructure is in place and at at least 10X the cost (adjusted for inflation). To align through Uptown would have likely required a subway, which although ideal, could have easily doubled the cost of the line and knocked it out of the running.

That being said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Shaker Heights planned for density and transit, and I also love the Cleveland neighborhoods you are referring to. The difference between them, however, and the Minneapolis 'hoods like Loring Park, North Loop, Whittier, Uptown, etc. is that those areas have seen so much more development than Cleveland has since 1960. Loring Park, for example, is essentially a mid-rise and high-rise only neighborhood -- with a handful of single-family homes -- much of it built up since 1960. I haven't seen anything in Cleveland that looks quite like it, including Lakewood (the densest suburb/city outside of Chicago in the Midwest). I think Cleveland is finally heading in the right direction and if/when it starts redeveloping at the pace of Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, etc. it will get the same recognition.

Last edited by Min-Chi-Cbus; 07-16-2013 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis (St. Louis Park)
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Quick and dirty.....

Downtown Urban Living - New
Urban Neighborhoods - New
Suburbs - Old
Walkability - New
Transit - Rail: Old, Bus: New
Vibrancy - New
Restaurants/Nightlife - New
Shopping - New
Employment/Economy - New
Architecture - Old
Attractions/Amenities - Tie
Character - Old
Diversity - New

Overall - New

I LOVE most of the Rust Belt cities and prefer them to some of the newer cities out West, but like it or not the newer cities have more going for them right now and whether it's momentum or whatever they seem to have the lead on the older cities of similar size in almost every category. I think if/when some of these older cities see the kind of rebirth and energy that these "newer" cities have then a lot of people will be talking about how great these Midwestern metros are in terms of amenities, walkability, density, amenities, etc. Obviously some of that has already begun to transpire and all of the "old" cities have seen tremendous investment and dedication to their once-deteriorating cores. Part of the reason I love Minneapolis so much is that to me it's a perfect blend of "old" vs. "new": it has a lot of the older architecture, character and history of other Rust Belt cities but is also progressive like some of the newer up-and-coming urban areas out West. ALL Midwestern cities have seen decline and although some fell further than others I think all of them can make a comeback and become true urban contenders again. I think it has already started to happen, and I hope to see the resurgence/renaissance continue indefinitely!
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Tampa - St. Louis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerseusVeil View Post
To be fair to St. Louis, the city does have lovely architecture outside of downtown, especially when you're talking about residential areas.

You are right about vacant areas close to downtown, but I will say that downtown St. Louis has come a long way in the last decade, and I hope that it continues in its growth.



How high are you talking? I would love to see more high rises in downtown STL, but isn't nothing allowed to be taller than the Arch? I could be wrong, of course, but that's what I've always heard.
I dont think building taller than the Arch is illegal, more of an unwritten rule and the lack of demand for new buildings that tall has made it a non issue.

I personally think St. Louis has a great historic fabric that would benefit from modern residential towers in the 300-500 foot range on empty lots and old parking garages. I think some glass would contrast well with the brick historic stock.

We have currently have less than a dozen empty historic buildings downtown and thankfully most have plans. What most people don't know about St. Louis is that it was the 4th largest city during the turn of the 20th century when building brick warehouses the size of a city block was in. So a lot of people don't see cranes in the sky and think nothing is happening here, but in St. Louis when we get a proposal for 500 apts it will barely fill up one of those huge 10 story warehouses, where in a newer city it may manifest itself in the form of a 30 story hi rise and cranes in the sky. Our downtown is growing rapidly (500-600 people per year and building critical mass), 100s of empty buildings a decade ago are now urban dwellings, creative business, restaurants, night clubs etc. I would guess that in the next 5-10 years you will see a lot of cranes in the sky in downtown St. Louis. We have some great TOD plans being planned for downtown Metro stations also. Exciting times to be in St. Louis City.
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:06 AM
 
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well, Mom is from Cincy and Dad from Pittsburgh.....both for many many generations....so these Old Bones will go with the Old School. It pleases me to know that both of my folks' hometowns are, while still flying under the radar, about to become two of the hottest urban destinations in the country. Once their renaissances solidify further and their insanely gorgeous built environments become widely known, it is only a matter of time before they are both seen as must visit destinations.

As it stands, only the really cool people know this already.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayp1188 View Post
Overall - New. The old cities have the bones to be great cities, but they have a long way to go. Pittsburgh seems to be on a pretty great upswing as of now and I don't think it's far behind the newer ones. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis are improving, but they're still quite a bit behind Pittsburgh. But as of now, Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, and Portland are the more vibrant cities, offer better urban living, and are becoming diverse at a quicker rate than the older ones.
3 of the 4 "new" cities listed, MSP, Seattle and Denver have the advantage that they are in effect urban island metropolises that have grown to some extent due t their lack of nearby rivals. For generations, folks from the central plains flocked to Denver, from the Northern Plains to Minneapolis, and from the Pacific Northwest, to Seattle. They had little to know competition from nearby rivals.

The legacy cities, particularly of the Ohio River valley, did not (and do not) have that luxury of being the only game in the regional town. Cincy alone is within a 5 or 6 hour drive of more then 10 1,000,000 person metros. As such, all of these cities have competed rather intensely over the centuries.

But now, I sense that is shifting and there is a more regional approach, ie what's good for Pittsburgh is good for Cincy, and vice versa. The Renaissance of these cities is already very much underway and will only accelerate.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:04 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Western Massachusetts
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Originally Posted by goat314 View Post
I've traveled an a lot of the older cities listed have some of the best historic stock and built form in the country. The newer cities listed are rapidly urbanizing and models for the future. Get your head out of the sand and realize every city isn't NY, SF, CHI, BOS, DC, PHI. These are all interesting second tier cities and all our urban by any American standard.
I don't use American standards for "urbanity". I'd agree the second tier cities are interesting, but not particularly urban. I liked what I saw of Portland and Seattle, perhaps the older one would have been better for urban living, but a lot of them, especially St. Louis and Cleveland have a huge amount of decay.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:53 PM
 
Location: South Park, San Diego
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natininja View Post
T. Damon, here is a recent photo collection of Cincinnati, to give you a little taste of what's there.

Edit: Here's a less recent photo set, and another.
Very impressive! It is a lot denser than I imagined, having an almost Philadelphia or DC aspect with the many neighborhoods of row homes. It does evidence a certain level of decay in some areas to be certain but retains a substantial built environment to rehab as well as add newer developments that can increase its density and vitality with a more diverse architectural language beyond brick and stucco and mostly low/mid rise construction. Similar to what goat314 espouses, having modern glass and steel towers reflecting the delightful (and irreplicable) masonry detail of the surrounding historic buildings can be the best of both worlds, and I agree that St. Louis in particular is ripe for this type of development to attract back those 200k folks that have left its urban core.

The vast tracks of historic mansions and grand houses in St Louis is something to behold though. It is so demonstrative of the importance and pride of a grand city a few generations ago and a populous that wasn't afraid to show itself off. As anyone who has been there knows, this is just a mere blip of a representation.
http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h78/Tsporty/1_zps578e41bb.jpg
The detail, craftsmanship, materials and design here is unbelievable.
http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h78/Tsporty/2_zps34418465.jpg
http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h78/Tsporty/3_zpsa5590011.jpg
http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h78/Tsporty/6_zps03f78ce9.jpg

A city that has been mostly developed post WWII with intensive planning and zoning and large scale development areas is always going to be much more staid, boring and artificial feeling to me than the organic development of a city with a rich history of starts, stops and hiccups reflecting the times in which it was formed.

I don't know how much denser a city needs to be for some folks to declare that "this" feels urban but when a city has a consistent wall of buildings 6+ stories high; higher in downtowns and a bit lower in residential/surrounding neighborhoods, and sidewalks full of people walking about most hours of the day it suffices for me. You can be in much larger cities with much more crowded sidewalks and with much taller buildings that occupy a much greater area, but in the end you are still just on a sidewalk surrounded by people and taller buildings. No one is saying these cities are Shanghai, Sao Paulo or Mexico City, or any of the many mega-cities around the world, they are cities that inhabit a particular place and time and are reflective of a level of urbanity that most Americans are comfortable with.

Last edited by JMT; 07-16-2013 at 01:48 PM.. Reason: Please follow the rules for posting images.
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:03 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Western Massachusetts
45,750 posts, read 39,675,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. Damon View Post
V
I don't know how much denser a city needs to be for some folks to declare that "this" feels urban but when a city has a consistent wall of buildings 6+ stories high; higher in downtowns and a bit lower in residential/surrounding neighborhoods, and sidewalks full of people walking about most hours of the day it suffices for me.
I agree, but none of these cities listed has that (consistent wall of near-wall outside of downtown), except in a small area outside of downtown. Otherwise, large portions are composed of detached single-family homes, though perhaps on small lots.

There's not much of a density difference between the New and Old cities, though the old ones are less dense that they appear due to population decline (part of the population decline is from smaller household sizes). The difference is more from architectural style. In fact, out of all 8, Seattle has the densest near-downtown neighborhoods.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dawn10am View Post
Please tell me they didn't tear down those beautiful rowhouses in the part that says "kinda not here anymore Glencoe." That would be a terrible shame.
I won't tell you they did, because I know it would upset you as much as it would me. But I won't tell you they didn't, because it would be a lie.

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