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Old 11-11-2007, 11:31 AM
 
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I've moved enough to know that it takes time to adjust to a new city. I used to live in DC, and just loved it. Its cosmopolitan energy, its intellectualism, its energy as a global center of power, and its wonderfully designed layout / open space. I've also lived as an adult in a small town in northern Michigan, so I'm not one of these snobby big city people who needs the world brought to my doorstep.

I just thought Boston would be a DC without the burden of politics - melding of a vibrant old culture with a vibrant city. Instead, I have lived here for 3 months and found its people to be extremely provincial and small-minded, not really engaged on the global platform, and rather insecure about their place in the world. Understandably, the city is overrun with college kids in a way I could have never imagined, but there doesn't seem to be much to do off that big red line. The culture is very white-bred (yes I'm white, but I miss the soul!). Overall the place just does not strike me as this great "Hub" it is sold as.

While I realize there are always exceptions to stereotypes (there are obviously pockets of cosmopolitanism, intellectualism, and diversity), my question concerns the overall vibe of the city. Am I missing something? Is my first impression accurate? Is there hope for me living here and ever embracing it? I want to!

Last edited by Bluefly; 11-11-2007 at 11:49 AM..
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:48 AM
 
188 posts, read 956,662 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefly View Post
The culture is very white-bred (yes I'm white, but I miss the soul!). Overall the place just does not strike me as this great "the Hub" it is sold as.

While I realize there are always exceptions to stereotypes (there are obviously pockets of cosmopolitanism, intellectualism, and diversity), my question concerns the overall vibe of the city. Am I missing something? Is my first impression accurate? Is there hope for me living here and ever embracing it? I want to!
There are a lot of white people here becuase it was settled a long time ago, and people put down their roots and created good jobs, and excellent education which inflated the property values high enough so that many lower income immigrants would have little choices in the Boston Metro- besides a select few, i.e. Lawrence, Brockton, etc)


And coming from Europe, many people are proud of their heritage in the same way many races are. All in all, Boston may not be as diverse as NYC, however it's more diverse than Portland, Maine. It all depends on your mindset. Live with the city and start embracing the city for what it is.
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:00 PM
miu
 
Location: MA/NH
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What part of Boston are you living in? What neighborhoods have you explored? It takes time to really get to know the area well imo.
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:02 PM
 
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If you looking for intelligent soul that you find with the black american's in DC, I hate to tell you this, but you're not going to find middle to upper class "diversity" amongst the blacks in Boston. I'm not sure if that's what you're getting at, but to be blunt unlike DC and the surrounding area's Boston does not have a significantly large black middle class and upper middle population. It really does not have a significant American black population at all. Most of the blacks in boston are either Carribean or Haitian, so if you're looking for American Black soul this is not the cit you'll find it in.

However, to the contrary there are a number of well educated black American's at the university, but overall they do not seem to stay in the city once they graduate. Overall Boston is predominately Irish and most things tend to revolve around the irish, so its interesting to get a large dose of Irish history and culture most of which you do not get from Irish people living elsewhere in the country. I think you'll find Boston is a lot less peaceful and not as overcrowded as Washington DC which is nice if you're looking for that sort of scene. Anyway hope this helps out.
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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umm, have you tried exploring parts of the city that AREN'T on the red line? where exactly are you living and visiting? 3 months isn't really long enough to truly know a place.

I will agree about the black of "soul" thing. having just moved to Chicago 3 months ago from Boston, the black community here just seem more lively than the one in Boston. Boston is sorely lacking in black owned business (that aren't beauty salons!), restaurants, and clubs. Maybe it's because most of the black community is clustered into 3 of the most dangerous areas of Boston (Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester) or maybe it's because most of the blacks in Boston are descended from immigrants and not from southern black Americans. if you're looking for jazz, blues, and soul (or even soul food), Boston ain't the place (I was SOOOO pissed off to learn that the soul food place near Mass Ave in Roxbury was being sold and yuppified! hopefully they're aren't going to turn that place into another Redbones-type soul food place).

the experience you get from living in Boston depends on where in Boston you live. growing up, I lived in Roxbury, Mattapan, Allston, and Somerville and these places were all incredibly different. sounds like you're surrounded by undergrads. have you tried hanging out in Cambridge? it's a bit more diverse and has an "older" feel to it (or at the very least, the undergrads there seem to be a bit more mature than most of the undergrads in Boston). try out different clubs and bars (it doesn't sound like you'd like the Fenway area much, so don't bother with those clubs). try out different museums and activities. I lived in Boston for 23 years and regret not doing a lot of things. don't give up on Boston yet!
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:53 PM
 
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Thanks all for your feedback. It's funny how everyone focuses on the race part. That was only a passing observation, not a defining trait of my liking of or disliking of Boston.

To answer your questions - by "big red line" I don't mean the subway - I mean the Freedom Trail. I've been all over Boston - I spend most of my time in Harvard Square for work, but live in Brighton. I live with and am surrounded by first generation Irish immigrants - not really immersed in a college area, though BC is close. More likely to hear an Irish accent in the bars than a Boston accent. So I can appreciate this unique culture being in the U.S., but they're not really any different than most Americans I've spent time with. They just have cooler accents. I've spent significant time on the South side, Allston, all over downtown, all over Cambridge, dabbled in Somerville, done the museums, the tourist attractions... I don't know, it's not a big city. It doesn't take long to check out. I know locals are very defensive of their hometown, and I don't mean to be down on it. I can appreciate what it is, just nothing really exciting to me.
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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people may be focusing on the race part because you mentioned the culture being very "white bread"

the Freedom Trail is even more restrictive than the red line. I still find it a bit hard to believe you checked out all Boston has to offer in 3 months, unless you are only checking out very specific things. if you are surrounded by 1st gen Irish Americans, maybe that could explain the "extremely provincial and small-minded, not really engaged on the global platform, and rather insecure about their place in the world" feeling you are getting (it's not just the Irish. most immigrants feel this way, especially 1st generation).

Don't just skim through the various neighborhoods (slightly OT, but exactly where is the South side? I've never heard that term used in Boston, unless you mean either the South Shore, South Boston, or the South End). If you went to one museum every Saturday for 3 months, you still wouldn't have seen all the museums Boston has to offer. if you went to one club every Saturday for 3 months, you still wouldn't have seen all the clubs FENWAY has to offer. if you spent 90 days going to indie music clubs, bars, independent plays, architecture tours, parks, 4 star restaurants, book readings, and local stores, you still wouldn't have seen all that Boston has to offer. Boston is small compared to other cities, but depending on your tastes, you should be able to find something amusing to do after 3 months.

sorry, I am an overzealous (former) local, but I would just say, give Boston a chance. I know it's getting close to winter, so it seems like there's less to do, but try experimenting with different things outside your norm. If you usually don't go to museums, try going to one or two down in Boston; if you usually don't go to clubs, try going to one in the Fenway or Cambridge. what type of things are you looking for, maybe folks here can point you in the right direction.

Part of the joy and excitement of moving to a new city is all the exploring you can do. Try hanging out in Dorchester (don't be scared away by it! lots of cool places in Dottie too!), or Brookline, or Somerville. if you still dislike Boston after a while, at least if you decide to move, you won't regret not doing something or going somewhere (after moving to Chicago, I regret not doing a lot of things in Boston)
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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Thanks eevee! I appreciate the "zealous" perspective. I know how much people love Boston, so I'm not giving up on it yet. That's why I wrote - I couldn't figure out what I was missing. Obviously, I haven't done EVERYTHING. But after a while, a club is a club, a museum is a museum (especially having the Smithsonian complex out your back door for so long). I've gone to quite a few theatre shows and indie cinema flicks, spent time at the Head of the Charles (which was awesome) and in the parks. It's all fine. Oh - and I did mean South End. Get my terms confused. And, on the up side, I don't think I've ever experienced a big city with so many friendly people - on the T, behind cash registers, etc... It's like small town charm meets big city amenities. It's a very pleasant place to live - except the taxi drivers.

Perhaps, having spent so much time in cities from LA and Seattle to New York and New Orleans, the reality is that maybe I've just moved beyond the trappings of city life as a viable means of deep satiation. In my philosophical and spiritual explorations, I've been exposed to the notion that more evolved societies move beyond city living - so maybe I'm just transitioning to that frame of mind while still immersed in a very city-oriented civilization. I don't know. Certainly more historical sites and museums are on my agenda, though.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:02 PM
 
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I understand what your trying to say. As someone who is 27 and lived in MA my whole life, I don't find Boston that exciting. It is nice to visit once in awhile, but I prefer DC to Boston. In DC I always met lots of people from all over the country. In Boston it seems, you only run into people from the northeast, mostly from MA and NH that wanted to live in or near a city, but still stay relatively close to their hometowns and family. When I was in the cities in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Florida there was people from all over the country and they would invite me to their place for parties or be open to hang out and do something.

I still find it amazing that going to other cities I met and can have good conversations with people, but that never happens when I'm in Boston. I really believe some of this has to do with the large population of college students, the recent decline of young professionals in the city (i know of many who moved to other more affordable cities elsewhere), and the fact most people who move to Boston already have their click of friends and really don't look or want new ones. Once you get to know a group of people most are nice, but breaking into any circle of friends is more difficult around Boston than any other areas. I've made more friends (and still keep in touch with them) in other cities visiting then I've made going out in Boston.

Boston is really only is the "hub" of Massachusetts and in some ways New England, but it also is more of an act or attitude. It is an interesting, old historic city with lots of things to do, but their are other cities with lots to do and people that are generally more interested in meeting and getting to know people.

Boston in my opinion is really a love/hate relationship. I never understood the obsession with the red sox even though I'm a big sports fan.
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Old 11-11-2007, 08:27 PM
 
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Another reason people might be focusing on race is that this may be the one concern you've raised which they can see as having some validity. As for finding activities, there's enough going on in Boston that it seems puzzling that you would have trouble finding enough that's interesting, but it is true that there isn't as much ethnic vibe as you'll find in some cities.

Each city has its own layout, its own way of doing things, and it may be that three months is not nearly long enough for you to get the feel for Boston. This is especially true since spending most of your time in the areas where you live and work puts you into contact mainly with students and that working-class Irish crowd you've described. These are two of the most insular, self-contained groups you'll find among Boston's population. Going out to do things on your free time puts you in contact with the more general population in small doses. Maybe it takes more time to get to know how people are across the city, not just in certain local confines.

Or maybe you're onto something with the idea that it has something to do with a growing disaffection you're feeling for cities in general. If that's the case, it could just be that whatever city you moved to at this stage in your life would leave you feeling this way, and the city in this case just happens to be Boston.

I'm kind of curious about why you moved to Boston in particular, what you expected to find that makes you feel so strongly that you want to give this city every chance to work for you, and, if you're beginning to feel that urban living may not really be for you, why you've moved to any large city at all, and not another place like northern MI. If you think that urban living can work for you at this point in your life, give yourself time to really get to know the whole city, not just the narrowly defined enclaves where you spend most of your working and home-time hours. And best of luck settling into the right place for yourself, in Boston or wherever else it might be. Take care.
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