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Old 05-06-2015, 09:15 PM
 
Location: USA
2,753 posts, read 2,226,328 times
Reputation: 2135

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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
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
11,145 posts, read 14,149,114 times
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From an objective point of view...

1. Boston, MA
2. Hartford, CT
3. Providence, RI
4. New Haven, CT
5. Springfield, MA

I agree 100% with you. But I had a hard time deciding between Hartford or Providence for #1. I ultimately chose Hartford (metro) because of the stronger economy, beautiful landscape, beautiful skyline, international airport, and a much better assortment of suburbs and satellite cities to live in. Hartford also has the warmest summers of any point in all of New England. Nightlife totally sucks though, unfortunately.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:20 PM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
9,448 posts, read 18,367,813 times
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You can have the top performing cities, I'll take the the coastal burgs...

Portland, ME
Portsmouth, NH
Salem, MA
Newport RI
and Burlington, VT by the lake.

That's my kind of New England, where the charm is at.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:37 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
11,145 posts, read 14,149,114 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_SW_77 View Post
You can have the top performing cities, I'll take the the coastal burgs...

Portland, ME
Portsmouth, NH
Salem, MA
Newport RI
and Burlington, VT by the lake.

That's my kind of New England, where the charm is at.
Well, if I'm going to be subjective, then...

1. Mystic, CT
2. Great Barrington, MA
3. Northampton, MA
4. Brattleboro, VT
5. Newport, RI
6. Burlington, VT
7. Portland, ME
8. Montpelier, VT
9. Pittsfield, MA
10. Ogunquit, ME

ahhh....there's too many to list...
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Old 05-07-2015, 07:29 AM
 
1,593 posts, read 837,398 times
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Springfield? I spent four years at UMass and wouldn't want to see Springfield again.

Top 5 for me are
Boston
Providence
New Haven
Portsmouth
Portland
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Old 05-07-2015, 07:57 AM
 
Location: USA
2,753 posts, read 2,226,328 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_SW_77 View Post
You can have the top performing cities, I'll take the the coastal burgs...

Portland, ME
Portsmouth, NH
Salem, MA
Newport RI
and Burlington, VT by the lake.

That's my kind of New England, where the charm is at.
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.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:02 AM
 
Location: USA
2,753 posts, read 2,226,328 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
From an objective point of view...

1. Boston, MA
2. Hartford, CT
3. Providence, RI
4. New Haven, CT
5. Springfield, MA

I agree 100% with you. But I had a hard time deciding between Hartford or Providence for #1. I ultimately chose Hartford (metro) because of the stronger economy, beautiful landscape, beautiful skyline, international airport, and a much better assortment of suburbs and satellite cities to live in. Hartford also has the warmest summers of any point in all of New England. Nightlife totally sucks though, unfortunately.
Pretty much. Most likely it will always be that way. Politicians in Hartford try way to hard to make it become like a Boston and NY but that's nearly impossible. It will always be a 9-5 city. It's only busy unless there's a concert or sporting event. As long as the suburban stereotype of Hartford stays the same then it won't change. People think it's dangerous but the reality is I've walked around Hartford many times and felt safe especially in downtown. People won't go into Hartford to shop and play. Everything you need is in the suburbs. Malls, restaurants, and venues. Many cities in CT and Mass are like that. New Haven and Stamford are probably the most walkable cities in the state. The foot traffic increased a lot over the past few years in New Haven IMO.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:06 AM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,015,683 times
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If we are picking personal favorites:

1. Boston, MA
2. Portland, ME
3. Providence, RI
4. Burlington, VT
5. Portsmouth, NH
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,454 posts, read 11,958,801 times
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I'm from New England, and although I liked it there, this is a hard question. Boston is a clear number one (and, if counted separately, Cambridge would be number two). In terms of overall size and urban amenities, Providence, despite issues, is a clear number two. New Haven is the best major city in Connecticut, and clearly number three. These days arguably Stamford, CT would be number four - it's densifying its CBD, and has become a popular place for young people who want a semi-urban experience to live. But most of Stamford is suburban in structure - the "city" part is quite small.

Beyond this, I don't have clear answers, because all of the other major New England cities suck, and the smaller cities don't pack enough of a punch to count.

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.

Bridgeport has lower crime than Hartford, more nice neighborhoods, and arguably has some gentrification happening along the waterfront now. But it never developed a downtown job anchor to replace the loss of manufacturing. It's basically only been resilient as a city because Fairfield County is so high cost that poor service workers have to live somewhere.

Springfield is somewhere between Hartford and Bridgeport. It has a fair number of jobs within the city still, and around half its land area is stable (but suburban) residential neighborhoods). But it sucks as a city.

Then there are the smaller cities with a lot of charm. Burlington, Portland, and Newport, for example. But I think they don't punch above their weight enough to be considered in a top five.

I will also say I have a soft spot for some of the gentrifying older cities in Massachusetts - most notably Lowell and New Bedford.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Somerville, MA
8,033 posts, read 16,093,312 times
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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.
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