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Old 07-11-2008, 12:45 PM
Status: "I hate living in Georgia!!" (set 16 days ago)
 
48,259 posts, read 45,539,506 times
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I do alot of things that involve geography and cultures. One theory I am tossing about in my head is how the culture of a major city develops. My theory of why cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, New York City, Washington DC have city cultures that differ widely from places such as Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Wichita.

My theory is that Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, NYC, DC are often populated by people migrating from other states, so the culture of that city doesn't reflect the culture of the state that it's in(at least in comparison to the rest of the state). Denver might be a Coloradoan city, but it can feel very different from the rest of Colorado. Atlanta might be Georgian, but the culture of Atlanta is far from the rest of GA, even Savannah is closer to Georgia(and Savannah never felt southern to me).

Places like Wichita, and Omaha have mass migration from within their respective states, so the culture of those cities tends to reflect their state more so than most cities.(Mainly due to the phenomenon of the "brain drain" where people are migrating from the rural areas for jobs).

I could be wrong. It is a theory worth trying though.
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Old 07-11-2008, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
343 posts, read 846,686 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
I do alot of things that involve geography and cultures. One theory I am tossing about in my head is how the culture of a major city develops. My theory of why cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, New York City, Washington DC have city cultures that differ widely from places such as Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Wichita.
They differ for two reasons, one important, one minor. The important reason is that the first set of cities is characterized by a much higher population. The minor reason is that the second set of cities is in the midwest, and the first set is more coastal. I'm pretty sure these two things alone can explain the entirety of the difference.
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Old 07-11-2008, 02:53 PM
Status: "I hate living in Georgia!!" (set 16 days ago)
 
48,259 posts, read 45,539,506 times
Reputation: 15354
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Originally Posted by SBCA View Post
They differ for two reasons, one important, one minor. The important reason is that the first set of cities is characterized by a much higher population. The minor reason is that the second set of cities is in the midwest, and the first set is more coastal. I'm pretty sure these two things alone can explain the entirety of the difference.
They could, but what about Atlanta and Denver?

Chicago is a Midwestern city, but it has more in common with NYC than it does with the rest of Illinois(other than the Midwestern accent).

St. Louis is in the Midwest, but it has more in common with Chicago than it does with the rest of Missouri.
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Old 07-11-2008, 03:12 PM
 
Location: still in exile......
29,910 posts, read 8,622,330 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
They could, but what about Atlanta and Denver?

Chicago is a Midwestern city, but it has more in common with NYC than it does with the rest of Illinois(other than the Midwestern accent).

St. Louis is in the Midwest, but it has more in common with Chicago than it does with the rest of Missouri.
I think it's more of an urban/rural thing than just pure "culture".
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,729,294 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
I do alot of things that involve geography and cultures. One theory I am tossing about in my head is how the culture of a major city develops. My theory of why cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, New York City, Washington DC have city cultures that differ widely from places such as Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Wichita.

My theory is that Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, NYC, DC are often populated by people migrating from other states, so the culture of that city doesn't reflect the culture of the state that it's in(at least in comparison to the rest of the state). Denver might be a Coloradoan city, but it can feel very different from the rest of Colorado. Atlanta might be Georgian, but the culture of Atlanta is far from the rest of GA, even Savannah is closer to Georgia(and Savannah never felt southern to me).

Places like Wichita, and Omaha have mass migration from within their respective states, so the culture of those cities tends to reflect their state more so than most cities.(Mainly due to the phenomenon of the "brain drain" where people are migrating from the rural areas for jobs).

I could be wrong. It is a theory worth trying though.
I commend you for taking on this interesting question, but your answer doesn't really hit the spot. First of all, you're the first person I've ever heard who puts Denver in the same sentence as NYC, "culturally." That right off the bat means there is something upside down with your theory. How many of the cities that you named above, besides Atlanta, have you been to?

My expertise is in the western US, since that's where I've lived my whole life (CO native, went to college in AZ, temporarily in CA until I go back to CO next year), so that's what I'll comment about. I know some people on the forums who will disagree with me, but I don't think that there is such thing as a "Coloradan culture" (It's Coloradan, btw, not Coloradoan), as you postulate. It simply doesn't exist. There may have been such a thing back in the days of the old west, but today, when the majority of your state lives in either the Denver metropolitan area or other nearby metropolitan areas on the Front Range (like Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Boulder Greeley), and when much of the mountains have been "colonized" as the "backcountry" of people who live in the Front Range, it's kind of silly to be splitting hairs saying that the people who live in Denver are different than the people who live in the state of Colorado. And even when you compare the rest of the state, Pueblo is totally different from the gas-and-oil boom towns of the west slope which is totally different from the San Luis valley which is totally different from the eastern plains which is totally different from the culture of Aspen. The only thing all these share in common is they are all enclosed in an imaginary square box that has been designated with the label "Colorado." Nevada is an even more extreme example.

The population of rural Nevada is extremely tiny compared to the amount of people who live in Las Vegas and Reno (and the Lake Tahoe-Carson city area), and as those cities grow the ratio becomes even more off balanced. To speak about how the culture of Las Vegas is different than the culture of Nevada is plain silly. Now if you're talking about urban vs. rural, then you are on to something. Arizona is even weirder. Not only does the majority of the population live in Phoenix and a smaller but still huge chunk in Tucson, when you look at the smaller cities and towns in Arizona, places like Kingman, Yuma, Bullhead City, Casa Grande, Sierra Vista... what's striking is how these places all feel like mini-Phoenix's. The only towns in Arizona that feel different from the giant Phoenix blob and all the other mini-Phoenix's out there are Flagstaff, Prescott to a smaller extent, any of the Indian Reservations, the border zone towns in the SE corner of the state, and some of the old Mormon towns on the Mogollon Rim that haven't been turned into real estate-villes yet. In Arizona, one of the fastest growing states for decades with people coming from all over the country, the small cities are actually like little mini imitators of the big cities. I saw a brand new shopping power complex in Yuma that reminded me of one I saw in Casa Grande, which reminded me of things I've seen by Gilbert and Surprise. I don't see how you could make a distinction between the culture of Arizona and the culture of Phoenix.

Now, if you ask me, what really makes one city's culture different from another is the ethnic origin of its residents (which can change all the time). That's what gives each city its flavor(s), and the most unique US cities culturally can almost all be identified with particular ethnic groups. Nobody is going to confuse Brooklyn, NY, with New Orleans, LA, with Albuquerque, NM, with Milwaukee, WI anytime soon. Everybody comes from somewhere, all cities have demographics, by definition, so all cities have a certain cultural mix, by definition. That includes some of the midwestern/plains cities you named above.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:43 PM
Status: "I hate living in Georgia!!" (set 16 days ago)
 
48,259 posts, read 45,539,506 times
Reputation: 15354
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
I commend you for taking on this interesting question, but your answer doesn't really hit the spot. First of all, you're the first person I've ever heard who puts Denver in the same sentence as NYC, "culturally." That right off the bat means there is something upside down with your theory. How many of the cities that you named above, besides Atlanta, have you been to?

My expertise is in the western US, since that's where I've lived my whole life (CO native, went to college in AZ, temporarily in CA until I go back to CO next year), so that's what I'll comment about. I know some people on the forums who will disagree with me, but I don't think that there is such thing as a "Coloradan culture" (It's Coloradan, btw, not Coloradoan), as you postulate. It simply doesn't exist. There may have been such a thing back in the days of the old west, but today, when the majority of your state lives in either the Denver metropolitan area or other nearby metropolitan areas on the Front Range (like Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Boulder Greeley), and when much of the mountains have been "colonized" as the "backcountry" of people who live in the Front Range, it's kind of silly to be splitting hairs saying that the people who live in Denver are different than the people who live in the state of Colorado. And even when you compare the rest of the state, Pueblo is totally different from the gas-and-oil boom towns of the west slope which is totally different from the San Luis valley which is totally different from the eastern plains which is totally different from the culture of Aspen. The only thing all these share in common is they are all enclosed in an imaginary square box that has been designated with the label "Colorado." Nevada is an even more extreme example.

The population of rural Nevada is extremely tiny compared to the amount of people who live in Las Vegas and Reno (and the Lake Tahoe-Carson city area), and as those cities grow the ratio becomes even more off balanced. To speak about how the culture of Las Vegas is different than the culture of Nevada is plain silly. Now if you're talking about urban vs. rural, then you are on to something. Arizona is even weirder. Not only does the majority of the population live in Phoenix and a smaller but still huge chunk in Tucson, when you look at the smaller cities and towns in Arizona, places like Kingman, Yuma, Bullhead City, Casa Grande, Sierra Vista... what's striking is how these places all feel like mini-Phoenix's. The only towns in Arizona that feel different from the giant Phoenix blob and all the other mini-Phoenix's out there are Flagstaff, Prescott to a smaller extent, any of the Indian Reservations, the border zone towns in the SE corner of the state, and some of the old Mormon towns on the Mogollon Rim that haven't been turned into real estate-villes yet. In Arizona, one of the fastest growing states for decades with people coming from all over the country, the small cities are actually like little mini imitators of the big cities. I saw a brand new shopping power complex in Yuma that reminded me of one I saw in Casa Grande, which reminded me of things I've seen by Gilbert and Surprise. I don't see how you could make a distinction between the culture of Arizona and the culture of Phoenix.

Now, if you ask me, what really makes one city's culture different from another is the ethnic origin of its residents (which can change all the time). That's what gives each city its flavor(s), and the most unique US cities culturally can almost all be identified with particular ethnic groups. Nobody is going to confuse Brooklyn, NY, with New Orleans, LA, with Albuquerque, NM, with Milwaukee, WI anytime soon. Everybody comes from somewhere, all cities have demographics, by definition, so all cities have a certain cultural mix, by definition. That includes some of the midwestern/plains cities you named above.
What I was trying to say is that migration patterns can shape the culture of a city. I put Denver with NYC because there is alot of migration from other places in the USA to Denver and NYC is getting people from all over the world moreso than from it's own state. Whenever you have migrations from other states to a certain city, the culture of that city will vary from the rest of the state, whereas if a city has more migration from inside the state, then the culture of that city will be brought from the rural areas to the city shaping that city's culture.
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:41 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
343 posts, read 846,686 times
Reputation: 197
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
They could, but what about Atlanta and Denver?

Chicago is a Midwestern city, but it has more in common with NYC than it does with the rest of Illinois(other than the Midwestern accent).

St. Louis is in the Midwest, but it has more in common with Chicago than it does with the rest of Missouri.
Exactly why the second reason is minor and the first reason more important. Chicago's larger population trumps its location in the midwest.

Furthermore, it's arguable that St. Louis has more in common with Chicago than with the rest of MO. St. Louis, while cosmopolitan, is VERY midwestern in character, contrary to the 'big city' image of Chicago.
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