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Thread: Best Small City in America

  1. #1

    Best Small City in America

    The Criteria:
    - Population < 30,000
    - Within the US of A
    I have a favorite in which I worked for 3 years and lived for 2 summers. It is Bryan, OH population of about 10,000. It is home to Spangler Candy Co. where they make Dum Dum suckers, and Ohio Art which makes Etch-A-Sketches. Great parks, with the jewel being Rec Park, which boasts a pool, bike trail, about 10 ball diamonds, several soccer fields, Imagination Station (HUMONGOUS pay area/fort), an amazing basketball court with adjustable hoops and acrylic backboards. A large pavillion area and lots of parking. The streets are generally in very good condition, and street lighting is excellent, as they have their own city electric. A fairly busy downtown area, with minimal (if any) empty storefronts. If you get a chance, it is about 20 min off the Ohio Turnpike. Great place to visit and live.
    Last edited by ssnyderjr; 23 Jun 2005 at 11:24 AM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    The greatest small city in the ole U.S. of A. is Helena, Montana, of course. Population: 25,563. State capitol. County seat. Hometown of Gary Cooper and Myrna Loy. One of the largest city parks for a town of its size (it is practically a whole mountain - MT. Helena). Halfway between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Gold is still found downtown every time there is a little excavating down. Sapphires are nearby too. Deer in your backyard. Surrounded by outdoor recreational activities and public lands. The Broadwater Hot Springs is on the edge of town. The Spring Meadow State Park is on the edge of town, too, and it is free admission if you are a state resident. Pedestrian and bike friendly. Plenty of open space and trails. I could go on and on.

    You might as well just close the poll. It is Helena. Hands down.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  3. #3

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    With all due respect, otterpop, there is more to do most evenings in Paonia, CO (pop 1,700) or Red Lodge (pop 1,900) than there is in Helena. I have spent many nights in that tall hotel downtown (the owner keeps changing, who is it now?) thinking that I could fire a cannon either way, up or down, the gulch and not hit anyone. I have spent some good times there, but Helena has serious competition.

    If we're talking under 30,000 (and state capitols, even) I will start with Montpelier, VT, as lively and scenic city of ~20,000 as I have found.

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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    The Criteria:
    - Population < 30,000
    - Within the US of A
    I have a favorite in which I worked for 3 years and lived for 2 summers. It is Bryan, OH and Ohio Art which makes Etch-A-Sketches. .
    Off-topic:
    To invoke "Sam's Law," Ohio Art MADE Etch-A-Sketch in Ohio. To meet Wal Mart's price point, didn't they ship all the production to China?


    I would nominate for best small towns the following list:

    Auburn, Indiana-Pop under 10,000. Home of the ultra-classy Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg company and its beautiful art deco factory, now a great car museum. Although I recognize the damage done by the private automobile, I also love cars, and this company's pre-war automobiles are beautiful. As for the town itself, it's a classic Indiana County Seat town, with a hulking limestone neoclassical courthouse, some beautiful neighborhoods, including quite a row of palatial pre-war houses (befitting the town's being a hub of automobile manutacturing). Plus, the town has, to date, retained an economic base of small and medium-sized industry.

    Winters; California: A small (5,000) farm town north of where I live. Located on a beautiful creek (with the rather embarrasing name of "Putah" Creek), the town is surrounded by orchards, has a fantastic turn-of-the-century downtown (and some pretty arts-and-crafts and storybook revival cottages) that is being colonized by interesting restaurants and art galleries, is 20 minutes from Davis, a great college town that is a little too big for this survey, is 15 minutes from the gorgeous mountain scenery and Lake Berryessa, a huge reservoir system. Talking with a co-worker who lives there, he was quite enthusiastic about the character of the town, including schools and safety.

    Newburyport, Mass. Beautiful federal period architecture, coastal setting, posh little downtown. A nice place!

    Sonoma, CA. Very touristy and can be traffic-bound, but what a pretty town. Classic town square, perfect climate and wine country setting, lovely neighborhoods (if you can afford $900K for a 1967 rancher ). With even better architecture and higher prices, Napa County's Saint Helena has an even better setting (mountains on three sides, even better wineries, and what a downtown!

    Jonesborough, Tennessee (east of Knoxville)-Classic mountain town with fantastic pre-war (Civil War, that is) architecture. reminds me a bit of some of the California Gold Country towns in character)

    Madison, Indiana: The Ohio River's most beautiful town? Perhaps. I need to post my collection of photos from this Federal and Victorian period town. It's nice enough to almost make me consider moving back to the midwest.

    I like Bryan, too, by the way.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Helena is dead at night. I stayed at the same hotel Lee did thinking it would be lively; it wasn't. I must agree that I love the setting. Both the Cathedral and the Capitol are etched into my mind as well as the odd main street to stream conversion.

    Aubrun IN: I have been here three times to go to the ACD Museum (what can I say, I live in Detroit and am a car nut) I have to agree with those statements as well. I like the town square, reminds me much of the movie Back to the Future. There is another town in Indiana I think is kind of cool, just soouth of Coldwater Michigan there is Fremont (or it is it Angola?) it has almost a european feeling downtown reminicent of my trip to Ireland.

    I am submitting Traverse City, Michigan. It is simply beautiful along its lakeshore and is close to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Yes it is a tourist town, but it is still very nice. Population of Traverse is about 14,000.

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    Traverse City definitely belongs on this list.

  7. #7

    Midwest cities

    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Helena is dead at night. I stayed at the same hotel Lee did thinking it would be lively; it wasn't. I must agree that I love the setting. Both the Cathedral and the Capitol are etched into my mind as well as the odd main street to stream conversion.

    Aubrun IN: I have been here three times to go to the ACD Museum (what can I say, I live in Detroit and am a car nut) I have to agree with those statements as well. I like the town square, reminds me much of the movie Back to the Future. There is another town in Indiana I think is kind of cool, just soouth of Coldwater Michigan there is Fremont (or it is it Angola?) it has almost a european feeling downtown reminicent of my trip to Ireland.

    I am submitting Traverse City, Michigan. It is simply beautiful along its lakeshore and is close to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Yes it is a tourist town, but it is still very nice. Population of Traverse is about 14,000.
    I grew up 10 minutes from Fremont Ind. and went to college in Angola, Ind. I am pretty sure you are talking about Angola, the center of town is a traffic circle, which encompasses a statue monument of a war general. Angola has sprawled to the North quite a bit in the last 5 years, lots of commercial development. There is 101 lakes in Steuben County in Ind. Auburn, Ind is OK, their Kruse auction of famous cars in Sept. is the best thing about that town. However, it is neat in the winter, they put on a heck of a winter light show.

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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner

    Aubrun IN: I have been here three times to go to the ACD Museum (what can I say, I live in Detroit and am a car nut) I have to agree with those statements as well. I like the town square, reminds me much of the movie Back to the Future. There is another town in Indiana I think is kind of cool, just soouth of Coldwater Michigan there is Fremont (or it is it Angola?) it has almost a european feeling downtown reminicent of my trip to Ireland.
    Angola (the County Seat of Steuben County) IS a pretty neat little town. I actually prefer their courhouse square and courthouse to Auburn's, now that you remind me of them-the architecture is a little less academic Beaux-Arts and hence more quirky. Plus, the County is quite scenic for northern Indiana-lots of trees, a few rolling mini-hills. Even a small college (engineering school).

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    Kutztown, Pennsylvania is a cute little town, with a charming tree-lined Main Street, beautiful park, and a small university on the outskirts of town.
    We also host the famous kutztown pennsylvania german fesival every summer. It's a boon to the town and brings thousands and thousands of tourists to our corner of the east penn valley every year.

    http://www.city-data.com/city/Kutzto...nsylvania.html

    http://www.kutztownfestival.com/

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by hitchhiker
    Kutztown, Pennsylvania is a cute little town, with a charming tree-lined Main Street, beautiful park, and a small university on the outskirts of town.
    What about Chambersburg? I remamber that as being an outstanding small city.

    There are so many classic towns, of course.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    In my defense.

    Number 1: I was kidding a little and displaying civic pride in the town I chose for my hometown. Every small city is the best small city to most of the people who live there. That is why they live there! Helena is the best place for me. That is why I chose it over Missoula, Bozeman, Great Falls, and, yes, even Red Lodge (which I would call a town and not a small city).

    Number 2: Is Helena a little quiet downtown at night? Of course. That is one of the reasons I love it. The problem with cities is all the damned people cluttering up the place (once again kidding). The very reason that you can walk downtown with safety and comfort is a big attraction to me. We have a nice Walking Mall, for the time being. My four year old can tear around on his tricycle without fear someone will run him over. Quiet is good. In fact, by my way of thinking, quiet is the best. The world would be a better place with less noise. And less people (and I am not kidding about that).
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    I grew up 10 minutes from Fremont Ind. and went to college in Angola, Ind. I am pretty sure you are talking about Angola, the center of town is a traffic circle, which encompasses a statue monument of a war general. Angola has sprawled to the North quite a bit in the last 5 years, lots of commercial development. There is 101 lakes in Steuben County in Ind. Auburn, Ind is OK, their Kruse auction of famous cars in Sept. is the best thing about that town. However, it is neat in the winter, they put on a heck of a winter light show.
    Off-topic:
    Well, Auburn and my hometown, Fort Wayne, are sprawling together. There are subdivisions 30 miles from "downtown" Fort Wayne (a desolate office park largely abandoned by even corporations. Heck, a California bank owns the most signature tower now. Hurray for consolidation and loss of local character!


    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    Quiet is good. In fact, by my way of thinking, quiet is the best. The world would be a better place with less noise. And less people (and I am not kidding about that).
    But, by lacking a "nightlife" you don't have the joy of seeing (or having your 4-year old see) drunks pissing in public.
    Last edited by nerudite; 24 Jun 2005 at 2:50 PM. Reason: double post

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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    What about Chambersburg? I remamber that as being an outstanding small city.

    There are so many classic towns, of course.
    I've never been to Chambersburg, but I've heard a lot about it.

    There are many classic towns, but unfortunately Kutztown may not be one forever. We're getting our first Walmart supercenter, and the University is pushing for new student housing projects to hold the exploding numbers of new students being enrolled every year.

  14. #14

    Impressed

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Off-topic:
    Well, Auburn and my hometown, Fort Wayne, are sprawling together. There are subdivisions 30 miles from "downtown" Fort Wayne (a desolate office park largely abandoned by even corporations. Heck, a California bank owns the most signature tower now. Hurray for consolidation and loss of local character!
    BKM, you are well traveled. Has anyone seen Pentwater, MI near Silver Lake Sand Dunes? It is a touristy city near the off-road lovers area of Silver Lake. People bring their ATV's, dune-buggies, Jeeps, and whatever they think can climb the huge sand hillls here. It is really pretty comical watching a cocky high-schooler try to take his '85 Chevy Beretta up a sand dune......
    Oh, the sand-drags on 4th of July weekend are awesome, you ever seen a motorized shop chair do 40 mph in the quarter mile???? 4 wheelers with wheelie-bars doing 121mph in the quarter??? I have.......only at Silver lake sand drags, every weekend in the summer.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    What about Chambersburg? I remamber that as being an outstanding small city.

    There are so many classic towns, of course.
    Part of the charm of Pennsylvania is it's small towns. Many of them have retained the classic "Main Street" (Usually called "High Street" in these part) and are still fairly vibrant places. Here in Western half of the state places such as Ligonier and Waynesburg rank as a couple of my favorites.

    For me it would be imposable to name the best small town in America just because there are so many of them that I love like Bozeman, MT, both Warrenton and Culpepper, VA, Brevard, NC and etc...

  16. #16
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    Cumberland or Hagerstown, Maryland

  17. #17
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    My favourite small city/town is Port Townsend, WA... I think it has less than 10,000 people. But it has an amazing downtown, beautiful location on the Puget Sound and a very eclectic art scene.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    The Criteria:
    - Population < 30,000
    - Within the US of A
    Without a doubt: my hometown of Newport, RI (c. 28,000)

    http://www.newportri.com/

    The city has wonderful beaches, amazing state parks and nature preserves, enormous mansions, America's first synogogue & library, Jackie O's childhood home, the Naval War College, a multitude of historic attractions, world-class sailing, boating and deep-sea fishing, active nightlife (at least in spring, summer and fall), great shopping, beautiful setting, easy access to Providence and Boston, a new community college, and racial and economic diversity (believe it or not). EVERYTHING is walkable and it is a great place to raise kids (and grow up).

    The two big downfalls: (1) limited job opportunities outside of tourism and (2) rapidly escalating housing prices due to increased demand for summer homes.

    I could never afford to raise my children in my old neighborhood, where I walked and rode my bike everywhere (school, park, beach, downtown, boy scouts, little league, friends', etc.).


  19. #19
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    I'll throw a few out there in no particular order and there are many more that I love! These all are rich in nightlife, arts and outdoor sports. All of them are growing at moderate rates but will never lose their small town appeal.

    Breckenridge, CO
    permanent residents: 2,000
    Max population including day visitors: 24,000
    Breckenridge

    Frisco, CO
    permanent residents: 2,800
    Frisco

    Salida, CO
    5,500 and wonderful
    Salida

    Newport, OR
    9,500 and home of Rogue brewing
    Newport

    Durango, CO
    14,000 and absolutely an outdoor mecca
    Durango

  20. #20
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    My favourite small city/town is Port Townsend, WA... I think it has less than 10,000 people. But it has an amazing downtown, beautiful location on the Puget Sound and a very eclectic art scene.
    That one's very high on my list, too. But so are.....
    Hood River, OR
    Astoria, OR
    Ashland, OR

    Oh, and nerudite, it's spelled 'favorite'. Next thing, you'll be misspelling neighborhood and color, too.......

  21. #21

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    I'd have to throw in Eureka and Arcata, CA, as well. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for "hippy" culture (the Arcata Eye Police Log online is amazing and sad), they are beautiful places. I promise: no more posts on this topic.

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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I'd have to throw in Eureka and Arcata, CA, as well. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for "hippy" culture (the Arcata Eye Police Log online is amazing and sad), they are beautiful places. I promise: no more posts on this topic.
    What is that police log?? Tell me that is not real ! Sounds like a nutty little town...

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    This Bear is submitting Marquette, MI, to this informal poll.

    Located on beautiful and cold Lake Superior, Marquette boasts a lively downtown, a lot of interesting architecture in commercial buildings and in homes, great neighborhoods built on the side of steep hills, and some wonderful beaches just a few steps from downtown. The bike path system in Marquette is considered one (1) of the best in the country, as it follows the Lake Superior shore and has extensions that work their way to the campus of Northern Michigan University.

    Presque Isle Park is a gem on the north side of the city, with a wonderful scenic drive, great walking trails with beautiful high-cliff vistas, cute albino deer, and the occasional black bear. A host of nearby communities are very interesting old mining towns.....Negaunee, Ishpeming, Champion, Republic.

    A short drive away (about fifteen minutes) and you are in some of the most desolate forest land in the eastern United States. This forest land and all of the land surrounding the Marquette area is a winter sports paradise, with skiing, sledding, skating, dog-sledding (major race every winter), and snowmobiling. And don't forget the world's largest wooden dome.....The Superior Dome.

    And last but not least, a short wander along the pathways of Marquette and you will see signs that michaelskis has been there.....handcuffs, piles of clothing, torn copy of "It's Not Hoyle, It's Stan", and a weathered piece of paper that says something about a "Bambi".

    Just kidding, of course, because he went to Northern Michigan. Go Wildcats!

    Bear

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally posted by Jaxspra
    What is that police log?? Tell me that is not real ! Sounds like a nutty little town...

    It is most certainly real! Isn't it hilarious? They've published it in a book form now.


    Arcata is a strange little place up in the redwoods hundreds of miles from reality. Surrounded by trees, it has a cool little downtown with a plaza and Victorian homes. It is the home of a California State University campus, unemployed loggers and papermill employees, hippies, granola types, farmers, and an unusually large population of lost souls. One of its major "industries" was marijuana, at one point.

    Eureka, next door, is the "blue collar cousin" with ornate Victorian architecture, more people, and a little more reality. Much of the redwood that built San Francisco came from Humbolt County.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    New Hope, PA pop. 2252
    West Chester, PA pop. 17,837
    Red Bank, NJ pop. 11,844
    Princeton (borough), NJ pop. 14,203
    Boone, NC pop.13,472

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