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Unread 03-05-2011, 09:51 AM
 
7 posts, read 6,130 times
Reputation: 11
Question From Chicago to Houston or Dallas?

My wife is interviewing for fellowship positions inHouston and Dallas, and we are visiting both this weekend.
We are from the east coast, I have lived in NYC but hail from Philadelphia, and but currently live in Chicago. Philly was my favorite city mostly because it was "home" growing up and I found it to be extremely walkable, accessible financially, charming historically, and I enjoyed frequent vacations to the shore and beach towns in NJ.

My first impressions of Houston was the sprawl and highway culture, but the booming economy was apparent. We drove through surface streets at night to check out downtown, and I couldnt figure out where all the people were. We had dinner at a place called armadillos which was good, but the neighborhood had nothing going for it. Had coffee in Rice Village and got a better vibe from there, but everything seemed very suburban and car focused.
Stayed near Galleria, and wasn't impressed. It was a big mall, with a maggianos and chain steakhouses. Not exactly my idea of city living, but you get this in Philly and Chicago too. No biggie.


Questions re Houston specifically-
Are there areas of population density and commercial/residential mix that one could live in with walkable access to shopping, dining, drinking, parks and squares? I could get over the sprawl re:commute if I had benefits of "city living" where I live. For purposes of this post, let's call them "livable areas".
What is morning and evening commute time like between downtown and med center? Livable areas and med center and downtown respectively?

As for Dallas we had dinner in West End on fri night and it was ok, though pretty quiet. Again I suspect the downtown areas here are not cultural hubs as they are in other cities I've lived in. That's ok, but where are they?

So far I think the weather would be a big plus, and I would be interested in many of the companies headquartered in Houston, as I am finishing my MBA at
A top school in Chicago. I would appreciate anyone who can address the above as well as help differentiate Dallas from Houston in terms of actual lifestyle, not just reputation/rivalry.

I wrote this on my iPhone so I apologize in advance for egregious grammar or text problems.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
3,042 posts, read 2,061,239 times
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I think you touched on a lot of reasons why I didn't choose Houston and instead chose Austin. You may want to consider Austin as I think it has more of what you are looking for.

I agree with you about the Galleria. Everyone in Houston brags about how great it is, but it is no better than a lot of malls around the country and in fact there are bigger and better malls. It also is filled with chain restaurants, everything from Kona Grill to Maggianos which are decent but still chains.

Dallas would be no better than Houston and in many ways even more sprawled out as there are two distinct big cities (Dallas and Ft. Worth) and a lot of smaller cities (Arlington, Plano, etc...) that are all competing with one another. Come to think of it, Dallas would probably be worse for you, although it does have better rapid transit (DART).

When there are festivals downtown, Houston can be lively, but as you said, for a city of its size, I've always wondered where the people are. The facts are that Houston is an indoor city, many of those people are in underground tunnels downtown or in climate controlled malls.

If you want that outdoor, people in the street atmosphere, you'll find that in Austin. Everytime I'm downtown, I just get that vibe that the city is going places, that it's the hippest, greatest place, or that it's on its way to getting there. There are people on all the sidewalks, and you can sense vibrancy. There are people running the trails along Town Lake, whether it be 30 degrees or 100 degrees.

So I suggest you visit Austin. Come in the next few weeks and you'll experience SxSW which you won't believe how great it is. Bands, musicians, and movie producers from around the world will be in town. The streets will be packed with people. We love to be outside and enjoy things at outdoor cafes here. You'll love it!
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Unread 03-05-2011, 10:21 AM
 
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Ive heard that about Austin but Austin isn't an option for reasons too complicated to get into here. Thanks'
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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Re: Dallas- no one hangs out in the West End. Just some tourists. The more hopping places to live are about .25-2 miles north of downtown - neighborhoods called Uptown and Knox-Henderson. Uptown is very dense and walkable- and the only chain restaurants are mostly fast food/quick service. The bars & restaurants are nearly all locally owned. There are gyms, art galleries, some shopping (though better clothing stores are at NorthPark Mall, Brooks Bros/ Banana/ some girly boutiques are in Uptown), several grocery stores/pharmacies, gyms/ yoga studios, etc. It's also walking distance to AAC where the Stars and Mavericks play. A free trolley runs up & down the main "drag" McKinney Avenue and connects uptown to the Dallas Arts District.

While you would still need a car to commute & for trips outside the neighborhood, you could walkto dinner or to a wine bar at night, or take the trolley to the museums or opera on the weekend.

Henderson Ave is about 2 miles long and packed with locally owned bars, restaurants, funky stores, and coffee shops. Not a chain in sight.

I'm sorry that you were steered wrong on your Dallas trip. The West End was "cool" about 25 years ago! The nightlife & urban living scene has moved on!
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:46 AM
 
7 posts, read 6,130 times
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Good call Turtlecreek- I found the trolly and am having a beer and burger at a place called the quarter bar in uptown right now. this area is pretty nice - I'm glad I ventured away from downtown!
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Unread 03-05-2011, 12:08 PM
 
7,621 posts, read 9,174,490 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConstantRelocator View Post
Good call Turtlecreek- I found the trolly and am having a beer and burger at a place called the quarter bar in uptown right now. this area is pretty nice - I'm glad I ventured away from downtown!
Oh good! Sorry the weather isn't better for you this weekend- it was in the 70's all last week.

Take the trolley on the whole loop if you have time- it will give you a good tour of the neighborhood. I live a few blocks away- it's a great place to live & it's as walkable as it gets in Dallas.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 12:11 PM
 
7,621 posts, read 9,174,490 times
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PS - if you're in town tonight, try to go out on Henderson Ave. Some good restaurants there are Park, Tei Tei or Sushi Axiom for sushi, or The Porch. Alma just opened and has gotten good reviews. For bars, the Old Monk is a great laid-back beer bar. Barcadia has tons of vintage video games and giant Jenga on the patio. Park has a cool lounge behind it called Bar Celine.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 01:31 PM
 
25,171 posts, read 31,111,369 times
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Dallas is the best city in Texas.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 04:57 PM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
18,521 posts, read 13,815,333 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DANNYY View Post
Houston is the best city in Texas by a good margin.
I second that simply because I had to go further for everything in Dallas, while in Houston everything seemed to be right there.

EDIT: Darn, your post disappeared
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Unread 03-05-2011, 05:17 PM
 
Location: classified
1,622 posts, read 1,435,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConstantRelocator View Post
Questions re Houston specifically-
Are there areas of population density and commercial/residential mix that one could live in with walkable access to shopping, dining, drinking, parks and squares? I could get over the sprawl re:commute if I had benefits of "city living" where I live. For purposes of this post, let's call them "livable areas".
What is morning and evening commute time like between downtown and med center? Livable areas and med center and downtown respectively?
Houston for the most part has more choices in neighborhoods as far as walkability is concerned although both metros are sprawled out and car dependent. Montose, The Heights, The Museum District, Midtown, and even Downtown are fairly walkable in this case since you have several nightspots/restaurants within walking distance.

Also the Museum District and Midtown are served by light rail.
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