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Old 05-03-2013, 11:42 AM
 
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I have never been to Vancouver before, but am curious as to how urban the city truly is. Please compare Vancouver to these U.S. cities for urbanity: Boston, SF, DC or Philadelphia.

Compare these cities in terms of overall urbanity and density in DT, density of city, density of metro, transit, walk ability, sheer size, ease of getting around without a car, etc. Feel free to add in any other criteria relating to urbanity or urban planning.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:22 PM
 
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Vancouver has a ton of residential highrises that give a sterile feel of the city. Philadelphia has significant substance to its urban core.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Canada
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I live in Vancouver, but that's a bit of a tall order of things to compare, although I could try to look up statistics. I can tell you that the metro area, not just looking at downtowns, is much more urban then either Seattle or Portland, although I'm not sure how it'll hold up in comparison to the much bigger, much older cities you asked about. Keep in mind that while Vancouver is pretty damn urban, it was basically still a small, alcoholic, backwater resource processing centre as recently as 1980. It's a come a ridiculously long way, but what confuses people is that while it's urban, it's urban in an unfamiliar way. It's a small centre that developed mostly in the automobile age as a sprawled out area of single family homes. As such, it doesn't have the same volume of pre war buildings or urban form as old industrial centres that developed earlier. It's a West Coast city, but one of the few that's broken from the Los Angeles model and done something unique in the last few decades, blending Asian and British traditions in some of its building styles. It feels like it doesn't really have traditional urbanity outside of downtown or traditional suburbia outside of the very outskirts of the metro. It's sort of like a weird mix of both, with very dense suburbs that have pockets of hyper dense highrise clusters scattered about to act as regional urban destinations, with everything, the suburban centres included, connected by rapid transit. It's also characterized by densified main streets that exist throughout, although there's often single family homes just off those mainstreets. In this way, suburbia is never far from the city and the city never far from suburbia. Freeways are very rare and are quite small where they do exist.

People's main complaint with Vancouver seems to be that it has modern architecture and they're used to seeing classical architecture which is less "sterile", but having an architectural style you don't like doesn't make the city not urban. I'll try and answer any questions you'd like but I'd prefer if you narrowed your line of inquiry because what you've asked would take me hours to properly research.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Walkability: Looking at the walkscores of Vancouver's neighbourhoods compared to those of the other cities, Vancouver has a comparable number (maybe even a bit more) of people living in high walk score neighbourhoods to DC. However, it's a bit behind Boston, behind Philadelphia (although Philly is much bigger) and well behind San Francisco.

I'm less sure about transit, DC obviously has a more extensive rapid transit network but transit ridership in Vancouver is pretty high so maybe it makes up for it in other ways?

Sheer size: Vancouver is smaller than all of those cities.

Density: The city is relatively comparable to DC density wise, but denser at the metro level since its suburbs are denser. The urban core (not city since Boston's should include Cambridge, Somerville, etc) of Boston and Philadelphia is denser, but they are less dense at the metro area level since they have pretty low density suburbs. San Francisco has both a denser urban core and metro area. The downtown has a very high residential density, close to San Francisco and ahead of DC.
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