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Old 05-02-2013, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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It has been noted that, generally speaking, "urbanists" tend to be people with a high level of education, if not income, who have undergraduate, and frequently graduate degrees. Furthermore, they are less likely to have "non-traditional" college experiences - such as attending community college, a commuter school, or going back to school late in life.

Generally speaking, most large universities in the country are either in urban areas, or in "college towns." College towns are interesting because despite they have the following characteristics:

1. Walking is the dominant means of transportation. However, people also use bikes to a large degree, along with in many cases mass transit in the form of campus shuttles or local public busses.
2. There is almost always a commercial main street with ethnic restaurants, bars, and boutiques.
3. There is an active street life, from the morning to late at night.
4. Most people are socially liberal, highly-educated, and "diverse."
5. Crime is low.
6. Public schools are good.

College towns essentially represent the ideal urban environment, as defined by modern urbanists, in miniature. However, there are drawbacks. The primary one is the number of jobs for a recent college graduate is limited, as most jobs are either low-pay service positions that you don't need a college degree for, or highly-paid university jobs which seldom open up.

Thus people from college towns go to the city to look for work. And they try to find the most college-town like urban environment they can afford.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-02-2013, 09:08 AM
 
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It depends on the college town in terms of jobs due to the research and innovation in those areas. So, you may have private start ups and small businesses there. Ithaca NY is an example of this.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:59 PM
 
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Agree with OP. I've lived in three college towns and despite their small size, they all had "urban" features.
And it has certainly influenced what I look for in a city or neighborhood (walkable and street life).
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
It depends on the college town in terms of jobs due to the research and innovation in those areas. So, you may have private start ups and small businesses there. Ithaca NY is an example of this.
Of course it happens in places. Madison has a pretty good local economy, IIRC, and despite being the state capitol, is in many ways a college town. So does the Triangle Region in NC, which isn't that far away from Chapel Hill.

Still, I think there's the "claustrophobic" element that people tend to get near the end of college as well. I did my MA at the same school as undergrad, so I lived in the same place (minus a year abroad and a summer internship) for six years straight. By the end, I was getting freaked out because I recognized children on the street, and noticed how much they had grown since I started college. Also, the last year I was there, I picked up a zine on "the underground guide to The Valley" with all the "hippist bars" and "best CD stores." They were all the bars I went to, and CD shops I shopped at. It's when I realized I needed to GTFO to somewhere, anywhere else.
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:41 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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The thing with college towns is they basically have little diversity in their economies, especially the smaller towns, e.g. Northfield, MN where my daughter went to college, or even Champaign, IL, which, unlike some other Big 10 college towns is not also the state capital, e.g. Madison; Columbus, O; Lincoln, NE; Lansing, MI. In most communities, educational institutions can locate in residential neighborhoods, unlike say, factories, or even office parks. So these profs can live blocks from work and they think everyone can and should.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:49 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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Interesting idea you got there. I've heard similar in regards to children's toys (mass produced and sort of ticky tacky) having an influence on the development of architectural forms as the generation who played with those toys got older.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:02 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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As for myself, and likely many others, my first experience of living (and spending lots of time in) a walkable place was in college, which influenced my views on those sorts of places.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:07 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
In most communities, educational institutions can locate in residential neighborhoods, unlike say, factories, or even office parks. So these profs can live blocks from work and they think everyone can and should.
I'm not sure why having an office building near a residential area would be much different than a university. An office park is single-use by definition, but otherwise functionally I don't see the difference.

From universities I've seen, most of those who live within walking distance of a university are students. Some professors do live within a longer walk, but they tend to live further. Depends on the size of the university and town.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
From universities I've seen, most of those who live within walking distance of a university are students. Some professors do live within a longer walk, but they tend to live further. Depends on the size of the university and town.
Pittsburgh does have an enclave of professor-dominated housing just north of Pitt's campus, even though the rest of Oakland is pretty much a student slum. I think the key is it was declared a historic district, which stopped landlords from buying the houses and chopping them up into rentals.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:42 PM
 
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Maybe the urban pioneer buffs from college towns just wanted to take thier show on the road---to much bigger cities-- to see if they could "gentrify" them, too...
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