Saturday, January 02, 2010

North American Cities

About the time I was born, my Dad would take the train from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to New York City, where he'd work during the week and return home for weekends.  Though we moved to Chicago by the time I was five, it struck me even then that "the City" meant the heart of NYC -- only eighty miles away, this makes sense. Philadelphia is more distant by about twenty miles. Even as a kid, "the City" seemed the ultimate place to see, to explore, if only in the imagination.

I love cities, they're like magnets for culture and sports affiliations and all that jazz (indeed, is any music more urban than jazz? Seriously, I've heard rap and its step-siblings on radio stations in the middle of nowhere, but far less frequently jazz).

Some of my favorite North American cities are . . .  Well, first, the North Carolina arc includes the Research Triange (Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh), Greensboro, Charlotte, Wilmington and Asheville.  The Texas arc of cool cities goes from Dallas-Fort Worth to Austin and San Antonio.  And in Canada, I dig Toronto and Montreal (haven't been to Vancouver or other Canadian hot spots).  Baltimore-Washington, Charleston-Savannah and Richmond-Petersburg-Norfolk have specific historical draws.  Because I haven't been, I can't say much about the bigger Mexican cities; Florida and California cities (aside from two) hold little appeal to my imagination (haven't checked out St. Augustine yet), but from experience, those below are big draws in my book -- i.e. I shall always return, given the ducats and/or opportunity and no matter where I live at the time (parentheses indicate continuous time actually accrued there):

New York City (days/nights)
Chicago (2 years) 
Philadelphia (3 years)
Detroit (12 years)
New Orleans (days/nights)
San Francisco (days/nights)
Pittsburgh (days/nights)
Portland, Oregon (days/nights)

Small towns have their own charms, but I prefer to have access to at least one major city, and if close to a large body of water, all the better.  Are there any North American cities you particularly love or hate?  How come?

Today's Rune: Fertility.


the walking man said...

Been to everyone on your list Erik, most can be counted in months spent there. I really have no preferences for any city. Concrete is concrete.

Middle Ditch said...

I used to love cities and used to live for years in Zwolle the Netherlands. But I have never been to the US. One of my favorite cities is, of course, Amsterdam and the next one is Paris. I like Berlin too. So much history there.

But now, now I'm that much older, I prefer the smaller places, villages even. Isn't that strange?

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Lana Gramlich said...

Growing up on Long Island, my dad worked in "the city" as well. I still have a friend on Riverside Dr. who I visit on a fairly regular basis. Whenever I get back there, I allow a full day for the American Museum of Natural History (inc. the planetarium, which I have fond laser Zeppelin memories of, even though they've completely redesigned it since then.)
Take my word for it; Toronto's a great visit. I would never live there again. I agree w/you about living near a city, though. It's nice to have access to a metropolitan center (although, compared to NYC & Toronto, New Orleans seems so very small!)

nunya said...

LA is horrible. If it weren't for my friend there, I would never go.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments. Mark, I also like checking out the local scenes, which are at least a little different, the burghers, politics, history, architecture, art, music and all that good stuff.

MD, makes sense -- a lot of hassle the older one gets, unless you have a personal driver or whatnot! Still, even your cities mentioned strike a yearning in the imagination. Lana and Nunya, I will take your word on both counts. Would never want to live in LA, certainly -- nein danke. Now Manhattan with a zillion bucks, at least a hepcat crash pad . . .

Cheers all'

jodi said...

Erik, Like you, I love the city. Had lots of family in Detroit and spent lots of time there as a child. My Gramma would whistle for a cab and we would go to Hudson's and Saunder's. I loved it. I need to visit many more cities to really qualify, but I love San Francisco and Boston!

Adorably Dead said...

Woohoo for Baltimore! I love to hate and hate to love it lol.