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View Poll Results: Do you think New England feels claustrophobic?
Yes 35 29.17%
No 85 70.83%
Voters: 120. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-09-2014, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,414 posts, read 11,910,584 times
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As I think you know, I grew up in Fairfield County. My two cents...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
I mean, we barely have any divided highways other than interstates or state expressways here. In the rest of the nation, they have beautiful, wide open double-laned divided highways with high speed limits that give the driver a sense of space, freedom and speed that simply doesn't exist in New England. In New England, most of the roads are cramped, narrow, curvy, hilly and have slower speed limits. My friend from South Carolina came up last summer and was shocked that we have virtually no divided highways up here. Most of the highways are just one lane each way (other than interstates and state highways). We don't even call them highways. We just call them roads. And we call the interstate, "the highway." And the exits are numbered sequentially; not by the mile. Furthermore, NONE of the cities have beltways like in the rest of the nation, unless you consider I-95 and I-495 to sort of be half-beltways around Boston. Also, the rest of the nation has BIG exit ramps and BIG cloverleaf interchanges that we don't have. Sigh.
I'm sorry, but this seems crazy - particularly the idea that big sprawly highways are beautiful. Highways exist to serve a function, not to look nice. As far as it goes, I actually liked the look of the Merritt Parkway for a highway, due to how tree-lined it is, along with the concrete work on the bridges. But I much prefer to not drive on highways (or drive) at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
Another thing that makes New England feel claustrophobic is the compact size of all the cities and towns. It's ridiculous. The average city or town is only like 5 miles wide by 5 miles tall. And as soon as you cross the border, you're immediately into the next neighboring city or town, because 100% of the land area is incorporated as a city or town (except for parts of Maine). And most of the states don't even have any county governments at all. There's no such thing as county roads, either.
Again, what? I found Connecticut to be very sparse growing up. I mean yes, there is a fairly constant low-level of suburban-type development, but there's relatively few areas that look urban. Even most of the city neighborhoods in Bridgeport, New Haven, or Hartford are detached single-family housing.

As to the system of local government, it's just different from the sun-belt norm. Having less built up areas incorporated into small towns rather than being unincorporated county land doesn't make it any more compact. If Connecticut had sun-belt style incorporation you'd also probably end up with Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, and Danbury having annexed every single bit of FFC in an ad-hoc fashion.

I will say, having lived in Pennsylvania now for 10 years, although there is no unincorporated county land here, it does seem like local government has made a big difference. The state is split between cities, townships, and boroughs. Boroughs are essentially mini cities - they were built out before WW2 for the most part, and they are (even in rural areas) dense and theoretically walkable). Townships are either rural and largely undeveloped, or classic suburbia. In New England, it's in contrast generally pretty hard to define areas which are older versus newer, because in most places there was a slow filling in of old farms and fallow forest land. Less of a sense of place I think, at least in most towns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
The zoning is also weird and sprawl is virtually nonexistent, for whatever reason. Cities, towns and neighborhoods look very unplanned. And there's not a SINGLE city or town in all of New England that has a grid iron pattern of streets, which is odd. The layout of the streets and neighborhoods is just randomized and blah, and it makes it very hard to navigate cities, which rarely have numbered streets. I mean, look at the Boston street layout. It's a disaster.
New England was settled so early that grid patterns had not yet become the urban norm. Virtually nowhere in England had (or even today, has) a grid after all. The same thing is true in much of the old coastal South.

It's wrong to say there are no grids though. All the cities have some gridded neighborhoods, just not a perfect or consistent grid. Burlington Vermont comes close though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
Do any other New Englanders (or travelers) feel the same way as I do, after living here for decades? I just feel like the rest of the nation has it so much better, with true freedom, space, boulevards, etc.
I didn't like growing up in Connecticut because, as I said upthread, it felt like wall-to-wall characterless suburbia to me. And the cities just sucked in comparison to NYC or Boston. I could live in New Haven again if I had to (I love the houses on Court Street), but overall, wild horses couldn't drag me back.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 69,384,130 times
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Compared to most areas of my state (AZ), yes, NE feels very overwhelming and overcrowded to me.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:10 AM
 
1,243 posts, read 1,594,396 times
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Not to me. Then again Im from Philly where we have blocks like this
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.9409...mOqQ!2e0?hl=en
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:27 AM
 
Location: a bar
2,565 posts, read 5,049,662 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
Compared to most areas of my state (AZ), yes, NE feels very overwhelming and overcrowded to me.
Maine actually has a lower population density than Arizona. Vermont's population density is only slightly higher.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:32 AM
 
1,586 posts, read 1,538,178 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan83 View Post
A lot of the things that you described as being negatives are actually the exact same things that many people love about New England.
Exactly. There was virtually nothing mentioned in the OP that I don't think of as a good thing. Reading it was kind of a strange experience, like hearing someone say: "Does anyone else have the feeling that ice cream has serious issues as a dessert? It's so cold and creamy, with a slick, wet texture and so much sugary sweetness. It generally has flavors added like chocolate or strawberry, which stand out while taking on the creaminess of the whole. Other desserts, like angel-food cake or gingerbread cookies, don't seem to have these problems."

I think a lot of what was described in the OP is what gave me warm feelings about New England as a kid and inspired me to move here later on.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:41 AM
 
Location: Boston, MA
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Those winding roads are why Massachusetts has the lowest traffic fatality rate in the nation every year.

Fatality Facts
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Old 12-09-2014, 11:09 AM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
7,130 posts, read 9,898,127 times
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Smile Go West Young Man.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
Does anyone else have the feeling that New England is a claustrophobic feeling place? I lived here almost my entire life and feel this way.

I mean, we barely have any divided highways other than interstates or state expressways here. In the rest of the nation, they have beautiful, wide open double-laned divided highways with high speed limits that give the driver a sense of space, freedom and speed that simply doesn't exist in New England. In New England, most of the roads are cramped, narrow, curvy, hilly and have slower speed limits. And the exits are numbered sequentially; not by the mile. Furthermore, NONE of the cities have beltways like in the rest of the nation, unless you consider I-95 and I-495 to sort of be half-beltways around Boston. Also, the rest of the nation has BIG exit ramps and BIG cloverleaf interchanges that we don't have. Sigh.

Another thing that makes New England feel claustrophobic is the compact size of all the cities and towns. It's ridiculous. The average city or town is only like 5 miles wide by 5 miles tall. And as soon as you cross the border, you're immediately into the next neighboring city or town, because 100% of the land area is incorporated as a city or town (except for parts of Maine). And most of the states don't even have any county governments at all. There's no such thing as county roads, either.

The zoning is also weird and sprawl is virtually nonexistent, for whatever reason. Cities, towns and neighborhoods look very unplanned. And there's not a SINGLE city or town in all of New England that has a grid iron pattern of streets, which is odd. The layout of the streets and neighborhoods is just randomized and blah, and it makes it very hard to navigate cities, which rarely have numbered streets. I mean, look at the Boston street layout. It's a disaster.

Maybe it's just the psychological aspect of it...I don't know. But when I've taken cross country road trips and I'm on my way back home, the difference is hugely noticeable. As soon as you enter Massachusetts via I-90 coming from NY, it feels like you entered a tiny claustrophobic state. Even worse is when you enter Connecticut via I-84 coming from NY. And then you see a new town line sign like every 4 miles, the entire way through the state, and sequential ordering of exit numbers, which makes it even worse, along with feeling being surrounded tightly by trees to make it feel even worse. There are barely any rest areas either, because virtually every exit will lead you to a gas station or restaurant.

In New England, it feels like the interstates were planned around pre-existing development. But in other states it feels like much of the development is planned around the pre-existing interstate.

Do any other New Englanders (or travelers) feel the same way as I do, after living here for decades? I just feel like the rest of the nation has it so much better, with true freedom, space, boulevards, etc.

Has anyone ever left New England for this reason?
If you think that New England is claustrophobic then try living in the overcrowded suburbs of a island next to New York City! Of course, you also live in the Fairfield suburbs of NYC, so that it is also part of the problem. People in the wilds of Maine will not feel so claustrophobic.

Anyway I do agree with a lot of what you say (but not so much that there is not a single city with a grid - there are some grids in New England) but wanted to point out two things.

1. Trees - this is what really can make the area seem claustrophobic. Don't get me wrong I am glad we have the vast forests in the East, but they come with a drawback. You cannot see the open horizon. On the other hand.....
2. Water - you live near the LI Sound. This is actually an advantage because you can go down to the water and get a huge open vista. Then Connecticut will seem less claustrophobic. This is one reason why people in the East, are attracted to the water, whether its the ocean, bays or lakes.

But it sounds like you want the open road. Go West Young Man! If not to the West then at least to the Midwest.
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Old 12-09-2014, 11:52 AM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
7,130 posts, read 9,898,127 times
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Lol, I just remembered something from a few years ago.

If New England is so claustrophobic, why did a mountain lion travel 1,500 miles from South Dakota to the suburbs of Fairfield County, Connecticut?

However not surprisingly, upon reaching Fairfield County the Mountain Lion was run over by a SUV!
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Old 12-09-2014, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
11,145 posts, read 14,111,324 times
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I don't know, I don't care what anyone else in this forum says, but I still think it's a VERY claustrophobic place to live, particularly southern New England. There's no sense of freedom, space, speed, etc. As soon as you enter New York, it's like a breath of fresh air and feels like you entered a new country.
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Old 12-09-2014, 12:41 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
I don't know, I don't care what anyone else in this forum says, but I still think it's a VERY claustrophobic place to live, particularly southern New England. There's no sense of freedom, space, speed, etc. As soon as you enter New York, it's like a breath of fresh air and feels like you entered a new country.
Ok, but I live here and really don't get you're feeling.
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