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View Poll Results: Which do you prefer?
Quaint Urbanity 12 35.29%
Grand Urbanity 7 20.59%
Varies based on city 15 44.12%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-04-2017, 05:31 PM
 
311 posts, read 218,852 times
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This might be a confusing question so hopefully I can explain it a bit. I noticed some other threads talking about urban cores and one of the comparisons that came up was between Chicago and Philly. Due to its vast scale and towering height, Chicago usually is considered a slightly more prominent downtown/city in terms of urbanity. On the other hand, though, Philly is noted as having an intimate sort of density which is not as frequently found in Chicago. This got me thinking about different forms of urbanity and how the term cannot be given a single, universal meaning. A place like NYC for example has many "grand" spaces as well as numerous "intimate" spots. They both might be considered distinctly urban but on profoundly different levels. On an international level I might consider some European cities perhaps more "intimate" in structure, whereas say a city like Dubai might be considered more of a "grand" city.
A poster on another thread (I don't remember which one) noted that while we tend to define urbanity in very strict terms sometimes, one's definition could easily differ from another's. He relayed an instance, for example, where he was in Houston in a huge jam of cars on the road with skyscrapers surrounding him on all sides, and at that moment he felt like he was in a unique urban environment.
The thread title seems to overlap with the pedestrian/auto-centric debates we see here frequently but I don't think it's exactly the same. Given the example of Houston, you might think to identify "grandness" with low density areas scattered with monolithic faceless buildings. I don't think that's necessarily true though. I think that while certain cities tend towards more of either grandness or quaintness, all cities have some share of both and many incorporate positive elements of both forms.
As a side, these kind of comparisons tend to work best when discussing cities with fairly well-developed infrastructure. Some cities, like say Chennai, India, (where my parents immigrated from prior to my birth) and many others similar in developing nations, do not have a greatly defined "city core" but showcase miles and miles of incredible human density. There's structural density as well, but not in the clearly defined form found in most economically elite/upper tier global cities. Sometimes cities like these are difficult to classify directly as either grand or quaint per se. These cities are definitely unique and awesome in their own right (there's always a palpable buzz in the air due to all the people and movement around you), but as I said they might not fit very well in either category of this thread.
Anyway, I hope this explanation helps to commence discussion. Which form of urbanity do you generally prefer and why? Regardless of your choice, feel free to share your thoughts on city and urban form in general.
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Old 06-05-2017, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Denver
14,151 posts, read 19,778,608 times
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I prefer quaint, European colonial styled cities are my favorite, New Orleans, Havana, much of Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, etc. I find them more beautiful than New York, Chicago, Dubai, etc.
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Old 06-05-2017, 07:22 AM
 
29,945 posts, read 27,415,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annie_himself View Post
I prefer quaint, European colonial styled cities are my favorite, New Orleans, Havana, much of Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, etc. I find them more beautiful than New York, Chicago, Dubai, etc.
Dubai shouldn't be grouped with NYC and Chicago, although I see what you're getting at with the tall buildings. But at street level, Dubai couldn't be more different than the other two.
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Old 06-05-2017, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Mobile,Al(the city by the bay)
3,799 posts, read 6,530,574 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annie_himself View Post
I prefer quaint, European colonial styled cities are my favorite, New Orleans, Havana, much of Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, etc. I find them more beautiful than New York, Chicago, Dubai, etc.
I agree.
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Old 06-05-2017, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Erie, PA
340 posts, read 306,093 times
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Quaint urbanity:
-Alexandria, VA
-Charleston, SC
-Ann Arbor, MI


Grand urbanity:
-Atlanta, GA
-Pittsburgh, PA
-Phoenix, AZ


I think it depends on the cities themselves, for me.
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Old 06-05-2017, 02:35 PM
 
29,945 posts, read 27,415,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jFug View Post
Quaint urbanity:
-Alexandria, VA
-Charleston, SC
-Ann Arbor, MI


Grand urbanity:
-Atlanta, GA
-Pittsburgh, PA
-Phoenix, AZ


I think it depends on the cities themselves, for me.
Not just Alexandria, but DC itself.

But most cities are a mixture of both on some level, except those with height restrictions like DC and Charleston.
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
3,956 posts, read 2,224,167 times
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I love how skylines look from afar and I also think it's cool to walk through "concrete canyons", but if I had to choose to live somewhere I would rather live in a place where most of the buildings are between 3-7 floors tall, anything taller than that and the city kind of becomes overwhelming and soulless.

Paris = quaint
https://www.google.com/maps/@48.8595...7i13312!8i6656

NYC = grand
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7636...7i13312!8i6656
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Kent, UK/ Rhode Island, US
626 posts, read 576,282 times
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I think we need images to aid this discussion. I think its cooler when cities can mix the two nicely. London is a really good a example of this. It feels grand, but also manages to be quaint.
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:59 AM
 
Location: New York, NY
1,172 posts, read 662,190 times
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Any city will have a mixture of both.

Philadelphia "Grand"
https://www.google.com/maps/place/17...!4d-75.1691064

Philadelphia "Quaint"
https://www.google.com/maps/place/93...!4d-75.1581269

I think both styles are interesting. Paris was an amazing city that to me had more of a quaint feel to it. And of course, New York City is undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring example of "grand" in the west.
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Old 06-06-2017, 12:13 PM
 
29,945 posts, read 27,415,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MB1562 View Post
Any city will have a mixture of both.

Philadelphia "Grand"
https://www.google.com/maps/place/17...!4d-75.1691064

Philadelphia "Quaint"
https://www.google.com/maps/place/93...!4d-75.1581269

I think both styles are interesting. Paris was an amazing city that to me had more of a quaint feel to it. And of course, New York City is undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring example of "grand" in the west.
I've got to get back up to Philly this summer, just to hang out on South Street.
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