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Old 01-19-2009, 04:09 PM
Location: Forests of Maine
31,146 posts, read 50,314,105 times
Reputation: 19849


Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
... To me, small towns don't have suburbs, and aren't suburbs. If you're part of a metro region, you're not a small town, even if your municipality's population is small, simply because your city blends seamlessly, physically, into a bunch of other municipalities.

When I hear somebody say "small town," my immediate mental picture is that of the town I went to elementary and high school in - 7,000 people, consolidated high school with a lot of us farm kids from outside town attending, no shopping mall for 20 miles and even that one's tiny, often seeing farm equipment coming into town to fuel up and make stops at the grain elevator, teachers who taught your mom and dad and aunts and uncles and cousins, people referring to you as "so-and so's kid," people leaving cars and doors unlocked, never being too far from an unpaved road, so little light pollution at night that you can see a sky full of stars if it's clear, and police officers and volunteer firefighters you know by name, and who know you by name.
That's it.

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Old 01-19-2009, 04:30 PM
Location: Minnesota
4,123 posts, read 5,438,524 times
Reputation: 4854
I would like to add on about those medium sized small towns, those in the 2 to 4 thousand residents. These are towns that are going to have a stronger Main Street Presence. There is also most likely going to be a Wal Mart there too which will actually challenge the Main-Street.

Unless there is a semi-strong tourist attraction to the area, the Main Street areas in these small towns can quickly become depressed. Those businesses are in the fight for thier lives against the big Wal Marts. Alas here's the catch 22 - I doubt my life gets any easier w/out Wal Mart and sometimes I feel like I'm disrespecting the Main Street Stores when I shop there. I do my best to support all local businesses because they define the very community in which they exist.

I have one "small" town you all should see someday. Actually two of them, well three. Ok four. Mine's the fourth, and I'd like everyone to see it. Anywho - Park Rapids is a beautiful town that exists on that around 3500 residents level. Thier main street is spectacular, it's like stepping back in time. So far the town has resisted decay.

Up the road from here is a small town called Dorset. There are more restaurants there than you can believe. Dorset is called the restaurant capital of the world! Dorset Minnesota - Restaurant Capital of the World ! - Park Rapids, Dorset, Nevis, Minnesota, MN Between Park Rapids and Dorset is the smallest of Hamlets, emmaville MN, population 4. I kid you not. It's nothing but a Cafe/coffee shop w/gas pumps at a cross-roads. This is on County Road 4 between Park Rapids and Lake George. Lake George is ok too. Lake George likely has the smallest working Post Office you'll ever see.

So I lied, five small towns... All worth seeing and all within a short drive of each other.

No where but in my town is the check-out person at the store going to call you by name with a smile on thier face every time.
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Old 01-19-2009, 04:46 PM
Location: Middle America
37,143 posts, read 43,064,244 times
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Definitely. My aforementioned town of 7,000 lost its Main Street atmosphere as I watched, literally. It went from a steadily trafficked collection of mom and pop clothing and shoe stores, a lumberyard, groceries, drug stores and franchises such as hardware and auto supply chains owned by locals to pretty much zip in between, say, 1985 and 2000, i.e. most of my childhood to young adulthood.

The downtown now really just has the local bank (amazing that it's still local, and not a megabank outpost), municipal amenities like mayor's office and post office and cop shop/fire dept, the weekly newspaper office where I used to work, a surprisingoly wonderful musuem and historical society that exists due to a very wealthy benefactor, and a few Mexican groceries and taquerias that have recently popped up and are doing well, thankfully.

Why? Wal Mart. 15 miles down the road. Moved in when I was in about 4th grade, so about 1988 or so. Became a SuperCenter about a year and a half ago. And that was it for essentially all the retail in town. They didn't even have a fighting chance, they curled up and died.

My town is now part of the state's chapter of the Main Street USA program to revitalize, after fighting for a bunch of grants, but it's slow going.
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Old 01-20-2009, 06:30 AM
32 posts, read 83,362 times
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I really like everyones posts. One of the reasons I asked the question is when I grew up I felt like I lived in a small town. There was a main street and I walked to school. Most people seemed to know each other and we had the same neighbors the whole time we grew up. A few years ago I looked up the population of the town I grew up in and it was about 15,000. It seriously never felt like THAT many people lived there.

I then proceeded to look up where my parents live. Their population is 1126. My brother graduated with a class of about 30 (for the whole grade).

I think my parents live in a SMALL TOWN! You can drive through it and miss it if you blink
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Old 01-20-2009, 01:52 PM
414 posts, read 900,809 times
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I consider my hometown the epitomy of "small town". Our population is just under 4000. We have a elementary, middle and high school. I graduated with one of the largests class sizes and that was about 95. We have a traditional Main Street with only 3 stoplights. Everything on Main Street is locally owned. There's a bakery, small pharmacy, a little sporting goods store, quiliting store, a small antique shop and one of my favorite features...a small movie theater where we only have to pay $3 per person and food there is cheap. It has been here for a long time and the prices never change. We have a few locally owned restaurants...a bar and grill as one example. We have a small university which accounts for about 1000 people as well as several churches. It runs right along I75 in Ohio so we have 3 gas stations and a few chain restaurants, but those technically aren't in the "city limits" lol.

Here, everybody knows everybody else and most people really care about you and how you are doing...while there are some I'm sure could care less. You are on a first name basis with most people and if you're not...you shortly will be. I love my town and even if I move, this will always be home and where I grew up.
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Old 01-20-2009, 06:55 PM
Location: Western Hoosierland
18,264 posts, read 7,414,942 times
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Originally Posted by ShadowCaver View Post
IMHO, it varies... but basically, a place that has less than ~3-5k is small town. As pop increase, of course, there be more amenities, more larger spread, increase of civic functions, more gov't oversight, etc. But, its all relative - depending on the part of the state, even what state you are in - yet maybe overall:

<1k = hamlet
<3-5k = small town
5k-10k = town
10k-30k = large town
30k-100k = small city
100k-1m = city
1m-10m = large city
>10m =yikes!!! where's the blue sky and trees?!?!

The town I Live in falls under the one Highlighted. Statisticly the Census Bureau defines it as a small town. But I dont think a Town ( we dont have a mayor(Town Manager)) that has a "Limited Access Expressway" 7 Highways with another one being planned. Is a "small town"
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:25 AM
1,255 posts, read 2,807,008 times
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Ok to me a Small town is around 3-5 hundred people.There is a city of 2,000 close by I can drive in it but don't like to.Then if I go to the Big City of 200K I can't drive it just makes me sick because of my nerves.My wife will drive in the City long as its daylight.

My kids say I drive like an Old Person because I drive around 30 MPH,but I'm use to Horses and Tractors for Trafic and its mostly Horses.

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Old 01-21-2009, 07:42 AM
Location: Middle America
37,143 posts, read 43,064,244 times
Reputation: 51693
Where I grew up, that population isn't even a small town...it's categorized as a "village," and has different zoning and government structure (village president, as opposed to mayor, no municipal police force, only patrolled by county law enforcement, etc.). My hometown is pop. 350, and it's a "village."
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:54 PM
Location: In the Pearl of the Purchase, Ky
7,773 posts, read 13,225,135 times
Reputation: 32222
This has nothing to do with the population that makes a small town, but the people. About 2 weeks ago 4 seniors in high school went duck hunting on a large lake in our area. The wind picked up after they were out in the boat, which capsized before they could make it to shore. One was found still alive and one body has been found. Crews have been out in boats and walking the shoreline since that day looking for the other two. Before somebody says it, these were responsible young men. No drugs or alcohol. Since the news got out there has been an outpouring of support from the small towns in the area. The town they are from, pop. 12,000 or so, and all the others banded together in support for the families and for the rescuers. Most of the men and women out in the boats are taking time off their normal jobs without pay or using their vacation time. The families of the missing boys are more worried about the rescuers. Last Monday there was a chili supper held to raise money in this "small town" for the rescuers. $15,000 was raised from a chili supper in one night! There is going to be a benefit concert Sunday at the high school. No tickets, just donations. Bet the place will be packed. The funeral for the one found was held in the gymnasium of the high school. There wasn't very many empty seats and this is a big gym! At the "command center" where dragging operations are working from, people from these small towns, many of them have no idea who these boys are, but think of their own sons in that situation,have brought food, water, heaters, fuel for the heaters and even enclosed the shelter they are using. There has been so much food donated that the families are asking not to bring any more unless it's asked for. To me, that is a small town. And I'm proud to be from one. Wouldn't want to live anywhere else!
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:13 AM
Location: The Woods
17,091 posts, read 22,609,680 times
Reputation: 9373
Less than 100.
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