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Old 01-25-2008, 11:12 AM
 
28,905 posts, read 46,757,067 times
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I stole this idea from a different thread, but here goes.

In 1993, when we lived in Chicago, I received a call from a headhunter. He told me about an opportunity in Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham? I laughed, and began to turn down the interview. I had images of a dirty, racist, backwoods hellhole. But the headhunter, a guy I knew and trusted, told me to really consider it.

So I had a couple of phone interviews and was finally asked to fly down and interview in person over a weekend. It was March, and it had been a long, cold winter in Chicago, so I agreed. That being said, I practically had to force my wife onto the plane.

We were totally shocked. We found a beautiful, gracious city with very attractive homes, terrific restaurants, and a surprisingly vibrant arts scene.

To make a long story short, we decided to move. Our friends and relatives were totally confused. "Why move to that backwater?" they asked.

Fifteen years later, you couldn't pay me enough to leave. And two of our friends have made the move as well. Others like to visit on their way to the beach.

So. What about you? Any town you visited that totally went against your negative perceptions? I'll also add Columbus, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee to this list.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Both coasts
1,582 posts, read 4,292,436 times
Reputation: 1447
Denver...I had never previously been to the U.S Mountain region, so I didn't know what to expect. Of course I knew it was scenic, but we didn't realize or anticipate how impressive Denver is. It has to be one of the cleanest American cities, with great amenities, communities & overall living standards. The Red Rock was a great attraction. Denver was to us, a completely surprising, refreshing place. Some ignorant people back home were surprised we were so impressed with Denver (mind you, we were there just after summer)- I just told them, "Go to Denver & you'll see what I mean." (Now, Salt Lake City evoked different opinions in us on a subsequent trip).
Also, Atlanta...although it wasn't like I knew I'd be disappointed by the place. Lots of people lambast the metro Atlanta 'way' of its sprawl, traffic, etc. But I really enjoyed Atlanta. It had some really great places to see. But down there, it may have been more the food, weather, and the inhabitants' friendliness that made me like the place so much.
And finally, the string of places along an Alaskan cruise. Such untouched, pleasant towns. I was surprisingly charmed by them.
Of course, it's not like I lived in those places, just visited. Although I can imagine living in Denver (in the Spring) & Atlanta.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,772,703 times
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Denver is awesome. I also liked Denver when I visited there, but since I didn't have any bad expectations about Denver I can't say it surprised me.

I was really pleasantly surprised with Washington DC when we visited there a few years ago. It was our first family vacation completely on our own (we'd always stayed with friends or relatives who showed us around wherever we were) and we were prepared for the worst. Yet the city was clean, neat, and felt remarkably safe (at least the parts we visited). We stayed across the river in Virginia, took the fantastic subway in every day and even walked to a nice restaurant and the grocery store late at night. Didn't use the car for a week straight!

Also, I was really impressed with Lincoln, NE when traveling through there (coming back from Denver, oddly enough). Lincoln is so neat and surprisingly urban. Much cooler than Omaha. Yuck.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA
349 posts, read 1,293,450 times
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Mobile, AL - I had zero expectation when I went there and was pleasantly surprised that they have a nice downtown with great nightlife. Also people there were extremely friendly.

L.A. - I had never been there but I got to visit for one day and I was very impressed with the areas that I was able to get to. I had expected it to be dirty and ugly, but I found it quite the opposite.

Vancouver, BC - I wasn't so much shocked that I liked the city, I was just overwhelmed with how much I liked the city. That place just blew my mind when I was there, especially with how well a city can be revitalized if effort is put in.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:29 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,727,189 times
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Riverside, California. I stopped by there on my way driving back to Phoenix from San Diego (I know, the long way, but I wanted to see something different). I had heard so much bad stuff about it I was expecting to see the ghetto. Instead, I was pleasantly surpirsed. UC Riverside is a nice campus, nestled right up to the hills (which were green when I went two weeks ago). Some beautiful views of snow capped peaks in the distance. Downtown Riverside looked like a nice suburban downtown, with a pedestrian mall. The crown jewel there is the Mission Inn, a beautiful building. Driving into Riverside I noticed some pollution in the distance, but not much. Traffic was backed up a little bit on I-215 since they were doing construction, but nothing to cry about. I just don't get what people say is so horrible about it??!!
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Iowa, Des Moines Metro
2,073 posts, read 4,952,804 times
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Nashville was much bigger than I expected, I really liked it a lot from what I saw!
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Cleveland Suburbs
2,554 posts, read 6,000,107 times
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Philadelphia- I expected a crime ridden city, with urban decay everywhere. But I was a city with so much history, and the history districts in the city were well taken care of.
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:53 AM
 
Location: La Habra, CA
167 posts, read 164,782 times
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Houston, TX

I had to move there for 4 years for a special school, and I just got back 2 years ago, I certainly LOVED living there. At first, I thought it was just boring, hot, humid, and just plain nothingness. There's probably plenty of things about the city I don't like, but the people there were friendly and most convinces, like grocery stores and restraints were literally walking distance. I will never forget living there.
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:22 PM
 
11,893 posts, read 32,933,878 times
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Saint Louis and Baltimore.

I was expecting both cities to be run down, dirty, and dull. On the contrary, I found cities that had fantastic urban neighborhoods, lots of night life, beautiful architecture, and a ton of civic pride.
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Old 01-26-2008, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 16,663,828 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMT View Post
Saint Louis and Baltimore.

I was expecting both cities to be run down, dirty, and dull. On the contrary, I found cities that had fantastic urban neighborhoods, lots of night life, beautiful architecture, and a ton of civic pride.
I'm glad you enjoyed St. Louis! People look at crime statistics and sometimes assume those things about a city, but statistics don't tell you everything.
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