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Old 05-07-2015, 11:43 AM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,003,720 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrfox View Post
My entirely subjective list would be this:

1) Boston- the clear cultural and economic capital of the region. It's the largest, has the best transit, an awesome setting, great dining, and it's beautiful. There's a big gap between Boston and the rest.

2) Providence- The "creative capital" of New England. Providence has an excellent arts, music and food scene. It also has some great neighborhoods, a quirky local culture, and probably the best nightlife in New England.

3) New Haven- Best pizza in the U.S. (and great dining in general), some pretty eclectic neighborhoods, MNRR connection to Grand Central Terminal, and a feeling that the city is gentrifying.

4) New Bedford- This is a real homer post (I mostly grew up nearby). It's a gritty old, poor seaport turned mill city turned fishing hub. It's one of the most unique cities I've spent time in (not many traditionally seafaring cities turned mill towns turned fishing cities in the U.S.) and its history has left it with outstanding architecture and a really neat downtown area (much of it is a National Historic Park). There's a very unique local culture (heavily Portuguese/Azorean/Cape Verdean) which combined with being the biggest fishing port in the region means excellent food. It's also slowly gentrifying in a very organic way (not as influenced by people being priced out of places like Boston or Providence). It's pretty cool. There's a great little restaurant and shopping scene downtown. There's a lot of good music and art in town. It's also a beautiful spot with views of Martha's Vineyard, Buzzard's Bay and the Elizabeth Islands. It's a gritty little gem.

5) Newport RI- The polar opposite of New Bedford. It's always been a resort town and playground for the wealthy. It probably has the largest, most active downtown area in relation to its population of any city in New England (including Burlington, Portland and Portsmouth). It's a summer destination, but it's vibrant and active year round. The location is tough to beat.

Honorable mentions:
Portsmouth- A great city, just no room in the top 5. It's also probably still a tad underrated whereas Portland and Burlington get- in my opinion- more credit than they deserve in many respects.

Worcester- A city that's still constantly knocked even though it's come a long, long way. It's a very livable city with active areas, good restaurants, and fun nightlife. It falls short in the setting department as it really doesn't have a central geographic feature like Providence's Riverwalk or Boston Harbor. Lake Quinsigimond and the Worcester Hills are wonderful, but they're not centrally located to compliment the urban core. Definitely a great city with room to grow, but I don't see the ceiling as being as high as Providence or New Haven.

Lowell- Probably the best example of a mill town that's gentrified in New England. Great urban bones, lots of restaurants, and a commuter rail connection to Boston are all great. I've considered buying a condo in a converted mill and commuting to Boston for a work.

Manchester- One of the more underrated cities in New England, Manchester has great industrial bones (awesome old rowhomes) and a pretty active downtown area with a good restaurant scene. It also has two minor league sports franchises and is relatively affordable. I wish NH would support a commuter rail connection to Boston because it would make a great Northern terminus to the bigger Boston satellite cities (Providence and Worcester being the other two), but I don't see that happening. It's definitely a livable city. Tough to beat the access to the mountains (Burlington is the only notable city in New England that is closer) either.

Portland- To be honest, I lived in Portland and it left a really bad taste in my mouth (I felt it's overrated in many, many ways as a place to live and the populous was far and away the most insular I've experienced), but I don't think my personal experience should preclude it from being mentioned. It has a great setting and a beautiful downtown area that's pretty active (albeit a little overly touristy at this point). For me it doesn't make the top 5 because there's little middle ground between the overly touristy and stuff for the locals. There are no real neighborhood centers (even Newport RI has urban pockets that are less oriented to tourists). Downtown is the only urban place in the city and it really is too chalk full of touristy knick-nack shops and extremely overrated restaurants. It's a sleepy place and not really a young city. Yes, young Mainers flock to Portland because it's the only place for nightlife in the state really, but people settle down young in Maine and if you're 22 or older, there's a TON of pressure to settle down. Not exactly a great place to be single in your 20s. It's definitely a charming place to spend a weekend (especially if you get out and explore the coast), but it's a pretty isolated and suffocating place to live as far as cities go.

Stamford- Clean, gentrified, and economically strong. However, Stamford to me feels a little too sterile and generic. New England cities and towns are known for having character and Stamford doesn't have it at nearly the same levels as other places in the region. It's also far too aligned with New York City for me to call it a New England city in terms of the culture.

Burlington- The last honorable mention. A lot of what's true for Portland is true for Burlington. The caveat is that Burlington is a college town so it's a little more transient and feels a little younger than Portland. It's still sleepier than you might expect and a little too touristy.
Great post like always lrfox.

I wanted to ask you about the Casino bid for downtown New Bedford. Are people mostly for or against the project? Do you think it will help further revitalize the downtown waterfront?
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Old 05-07-2015, 07:28 PM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
9,422 posts, read 18,313,139 times
Reputation: 11901
Quote:
Originally Posted by HumpDay View Post
Not even Boston? I would say Boston is the historical and cultural capital of New England. No question. Many of the New England cities were shaped because of water. Many cities were formed on rivers, lakes, and by the ocean. Worcester is probably the only city in New England that isn't next to a river. There are a few lakes by Worcester but nothing major. Hartford and Springfield were founded because they were located on the Connecticut River and it had easy access to the Sound. Manchester, Lawrence, and Lowell are on the Merrimack River which has easy access to the Atlantic. Many of the cities you've mentioned are seaports especially Portland. I always found Portland to be a mini Boston because theyre shaped the same way.
No, see I LOVE New England, but Boston just really isn't one of my favorite cities. That's not to say I don't like big cities as I really like Seattle, Denver, San Diego, and even Philly. I'm just not a Boston kind of guy, it's just not for me. The inland mill cities don't do much for me either. However I think cities like Portland, Newport, and Burlington are beautiful and I could fill a lot of time finding things to do around those areas in spite of their smaller size. Where as Hartford, Manchester, Springfield, and Worcester, well..........meh... I agree that Portland feels like a miniature laid back Boston, that's what I like about it. Similar charm as Boston without the ratrace. Providence is pretty cool too. I do however really enjoy a night out for dinner in the North End of Boston, best Little Italy in the country.

Last edited by Desert_SW_77; 05-07-2015 at 07:38 PM..
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Old 05-07-2015, 07:41 PM
 
Location: USA
2,753 posts, read 2,216,003 times
Reputation: 2135
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_SW_77 View Post
No, see I LOVE New England, but Boston just really isn't one of my favorite cities. That's not to say I don't like big cities as I really like Seattle, Denver, San Diego, and even Philly. I'm just not a Boston kind of guy, it's just not for me. The inland mill cities don't do much for me either. However I think cities like Portland, Newport, and Burlington are beautiful and I could fill a lot of time finding things to do around those areas in spite of their smaller size. Where as Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester, well..........meh. I agree that Portland feels like a miniature laid back Boston, that's what I like about it. Similar charm as Boston without the ratrace. Providence is pretty cool too. I do however really enjoy a night out for dinner in the North End of Boston, best Little Italy in the country.
Makes sense. I'm kinda the same way. I prefer smaller cities than major ones like Boston. Id rather be in Columbia than Atlanta.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
11,145 posts, read 14,111,324 times
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I really like Northampton, MA. It's a small city with a LOT of amazingly good ethnic restaurants. It's safe, walkable, affordable and not too congested. It even has a pretty good art museum and is near some beautiful hills and forests. Rachel Maddow lives there on the weekends with her partner. It's a very lesbian friendly city and you will always see two women holding hands walking around. It's a very cozy, fun, small city in western Mass. I love it. It's one of the few cities I can honestly say I enjoy visiting.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:56 PM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
9,422 posts, read 18,313,139 times
Reputation: 11901
Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
I really like Northampton, MA. It's a small city with a LOT of amazingly good ethnic restaurants. It's safe, walkable, affordable and not too congested. It even has a pretty good art museum and is near some beautiful hills and forests. Rachel Maddow lives there on the weekends with her partner. It's a very lesbian friendly city and you will always see two women holding hands walking around. It's a very cozy, fun, small city in western Mass. I love it. It's one of the few cities I can honestly say I enjoy visiting.
I enjoy Northampton too. Western Mass is a really pretty area, lots of beautiful bucolic towns.
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Old 05-08-2015, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Boston
2,189 posts, read 1,293,245 times
Reputation: 2040
Boston MA (including Cambridge)
Providence RI
Hartford CT
New Haven CT
Stamford CT/Portland ME
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Old 05-08-2015, 06:14 PM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
9,422 posts, read 18,313,139 times
Reputation: 11901
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Hartford is a joke. A dead downtown full of office towers, ringed by highways blocking it from the surrounding neighborhood, with poor black neighborhoods to the north, and poor Latino neighborhoods to the south. The West End is still desirable in some areas, although it doesn't appear to be gentrifying - it's slowly shifting into a Latino neighborhood. There's some downtown apartments/condos coming on the market of course, but there's not a single residential neighborhood in Hartford you can see even the glimmers of gentrification in. Hartford does retain a ton of jobs in Downtown, between the state and the insurance industry, but this is the only feather in its cap. Basically it seems like a city 10-20 years behind the national trends regarding a return to urban areas.
Mark Twain held very high esteem for Hartford when he lived there. It might have had similar historic bones that Providence still has if it weren't for pitiful mid 20th century urban planning they did there. I-91 severed the city from its best feature, the Connecticut River. Due to the brutalist mid 20th century urban renewal, it became by design a 9-5 city with everything else in the suburbs. Just look at the night and day difference between Hartford and West Hartford.
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Old 05-08-2015, 07:33 PM
 
Location: USA
2,753 posts, read 2,216,003 times
Reputation: 2135
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_SW_77 View Post
Mark Twain held very high esteem for Hartford when he lived there. It might have had similar historic bones that Providence still has if it weren't for pitiful mid 20th century urban planning they did there. I-91 severed the city from its best feature, the Connecticut River. Due to the brutalist mid 20th century urban renewal, it became by design a 9-5 city with everything else in the suburbs. Just look at the night and day difference between Hartford and West Hartford.
Oh man. Hartford was pretty much destroyed back in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. It all depends on your perspective. Has Hartford made progress, yes. But they destroyed Hartford by plowong down old historic buildings and neighborhoods to make way for freeways which overcrowd the cities. Interstate 91 blocked Hartford from having a great waterfront which we had a potential in. Another one was demolishing buildings just to do it. I say this because we torn down so many buildings to make way for skyscrapers or project that never happened. There are too many surface parking lots. Just imagine what the city would be like without Interstate 84? Neighborhoods would be connected and we wouldn't be as divided.

about Mark Twain...

He said this about Hartford:
""Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the chief."
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Old 05-12-2015, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles/Massachusetts
342 posts, read 555,521 times
Reputation: 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by HumpDay View Post
Through your opinion...What are the top 5 New England Urban Centers? What cities stand on top of the others? A strong economy, jobs, entertainment, nightlife, transportation, quality of life, and crime all play a key role into how to rate cities from one another.

Here's mine:
1. Boston, MA
2. Hartford, CT
3. Providence, RI
4. New Haven, CT
5. Springfield, MA

Honorable Mentions:
Stamford, CT
Worcester, MA
Portland, ME
Manchester, NH
Danbury, CT
Burlington, VT

BOSTON, BOSTON, BOSTON, BOSTON...AND BOSTON...Cambridge.
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