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Thread: Favorite Under-Rated Cities

  1. #51
         
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    I am glad to see St. Louis on this list a few times, I wholeheartedly agree. St. Louis is a great town and has a lot to offer as well as some really beautiful neighborhoods.

  2. #52
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    My nominee is Saint John NB.

    Great architecture, most amenities you'd want, friendly people, access to teh outdoors, affordable housing of all types, OK weather.

    I've only ever driven through/by Portland Me, but it looks promising as does Portsmouth.

    I also enjoyed Northampton and Amherst Mass on my trips there. But never really explored more then the downtowns.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  3. #53
    The nicest mid-sized town in PA. in Doylestown. It is about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia on Route 611. It includes some historic excellent restored architecture, an active walkable downtown, strong neighborhoods and many tourism, museum and cultural facilities. It also has a new urbanist development under construction named Lantern Hill.

    Some of the other greatest downtowns in PA. are West Chester (45 minutes west of Philadelphia on Route 202), Carlisle (15 minutes west of Harrisburg on I-81), New Hope (on the Delaware River off of Route 202), Lancaster (1 hour west of Philadelphia off of Route 30), York (30 minutes west of Lancaster on Route 30), and Bethlehem (1.5 hours west of New York City off Route 22). Harrisburg has an active center city, beautiful riverfront parks stretching for about 6 miles, and one of the most ornate state capitol buildings in the country.

    Another great downtown in PA is in State College, in the geographic center of the State. It is the home of Penn State University, and has a main street with a high level of urban design and much activity.

    Charlottesville VA is another notable town that is worth a visit. It has become much more cosmopolitan over the years. It is along I-64 and Route 29 about 2 hours south of D.C. On the west side of town is the University of Virginia. The center "Lawn" includes a full collection of buildings that were personally designed by Thomas Jefferson. The American Institute of Architects named it the most significant collection of buildings in the U.S. The downtown includes one of the few very successful pedestrian malls in the country. While you are there, you can also visit Monticello, on a mountain on the southeast side overlooking the town.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 19 Oct 2005 at 2:20 PM.

  4. #54
    Sault St. Marie, Michigan side

    A well-preserved downtown (aka 1940's) and a beautiful setting next to the lake, a park, and the famous Soo Locks

  5. #55

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    Quote Originally posted by Charliesch
    Another great downtown in PA is in State College, in the geographic center of the State. It is the home of Penn State University, and has a main street with a high level of urban design and much activity.

    Charlottesville VA is another notable town that is worth a visit. It has become much more cosmopolitan over the years. It is along I-64 and Route 29 about 2 hours south of D.C. On the west side of town is the University of Virginia. The center "Lawn" includes a full collection of buildings that were personally designed by Thomas Jefferson. The American Institute of Architects named it the most significant collection of buildings in the U.S. The downtown includes one of the few very successful pedestrian malls in the country. While you are there, you can also visit Monticello, on a mountain on the southeast side overlooking the town.
    I lived just north of Chalottesville's downtown (within a couple of blocks) in Grad School. Has the downtown revived somewhat? It was nice but a little sleepy. That horrible Highway 29 strip was an abomination. Not to offend anyone, but Virginia has horrible planning enabling legislation.

  6. #56
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Urban Politician
    Sault St. Marie, Michigan side

    A well-preserved downtown (aka 1940's) and a beautiful setting next to the lake, a park, and the famous Soo Locks
    Not to mention the ValleyCamp frieghter museum (awsome) and the tower of history (yawns). Last time I was in town it was post 9-11. The cool park by the locks have been locked down.

  7. #57

    Charlottesville

    I used to live in Charlottesville VA, but haven't been there for several years. There is a huge commercial complex proposed around the Fashion Square Mall on Route 29 that is supposed to be a new urbanist sort of project.

    Route 29 north of Cville at least used to have a pretty tree-lined median. There had been proposals to remove it to widen the road. I don't know whatever happened.

  8. #58
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    I'm biased because I was born there, but Memphis has a nicely revitalized downtown--which surprises some people--as well as extensive early 1900's-era residential and commercial areas.

    I particularly like Memphis' Parkway system which is a beautifully landscaped loop of about 7 miles around the 1920's-era, old part of town.

  9. #59
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    I'll try to weigh in on this thread.

    Iowa City, IA - a particularly inspiring university town.
    Duluth, MN - absolutely gorgeous and historic city with hills and magnificent lake views.
    Allentown, PA
    Pittsburgh, PA

    I'm a little perplexed at how much people here seem to like Rockford, IL. I'm familiar with it and while it has an extremely promising downtown area, it has quite possibly the ugliest and slow-moving traffic plagued suburban strip commercial district I have ever seen since the interstate pushed all of the activity away from its beautiful downtown that straddles the Rock River. Does anyone know about efforts to turn this city around. Could they consider bringing Chicago commuter rail to downtown Rockford? Just a thought, I have no idea whether that is even feasible.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I lived just north of Chalottesville's downtown (within a couple of blocks) in Grad School. Has the downtown revived somewhat? It was nice but a little sleepy. That horrible Highway 29 strip was an abomination. Not to offend anyone, but Virginia has horrible planning enabling legislation.
    US 29 was supposed to be upgraded to a freeway, but local opposition stopped that. Unfortunately, it's now a repeatedly-widened arterial with massive amounts of uncontrolled access arterial type development. A bypass freeway would have been nicer, ironically.

    US 29 between Gainesville and Warrenton is another good example of a blighted uncontrolled access highway. The commercial driveways to places like Outback Steakhouse and BP just after the end of controlled access on the 29 bypass from Warrenton don't end until you get to the Manassas battlefield, just past the new Target, 35 miles west of D.C.

  11. #61
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    My nominee is Saint John NB.

    Great architecture, most amenities you'd want, friendly people, access to the outdoors, affordable housing of all types, OK weather.
    I agree with you on all counts of what you described for Saint John, NB. But, why does the energy of the city feel dead or at least un-alive? Is it because there is little economic prosperity left in this city?

  12. #62

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    Quote Originally posted by MennoJoshua
    US 29 was supposed to be upgraded to a freeway, but local opposition stopped that. Unfortunately, it's now a repeatedly-widened arterial with massive amounts of uncontrolled access arterial type development. A bypass freeway would have been nicer, ironically.

    US 29 between Gainesville and Warrenton is another good example of a blighted uncontrolled access highway. The commercial driveways to places like Outback Steakhouse and BP just after the end of controlled access on the 29 bypass from Warrenton don't end until you get to the Manassas battlefield, just past the new Target, 35 miles west of D.C.
    Ah, Virginia Planning (sorry, Virginians!)

    Off-topic:
    My hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana did the same thing forty years ago. The Coliseum Blvd "Bypass" (U. S. 30) does "work" in some segments, but much of it was allowed to develop as a particularly horrific commerical strip. Billboards worthy of Texas, a not very nice industrial park, and huge power line assemblages. Of course, much of the development was during the 1960s, so it isn't very "pretty."

  13. #63
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    One of my votes is for Charleston, SC, which is a fun town.

  14. #64
    I don't know if it counts, but as for the german Cities, I go for:

    Goerlitz - located at the border of Germany/Poland/CzechRep. its a real european City which offers propably the most intact panorama of historical buildings all over Germany. Still it's got the postsocialist weight on its shoulders and is not as popular as it deserved.

    Dresden - maybe not under-rated, but I have to name it

    Zuerich - in Switzerland. same as Dresden, not really under-rated, but I can't guess if you foreigners are aware how beautyful it is. Just go for it!

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally posted by Charliesch
    I used to live in Charlottesville VA, but haven't been there for several years. There is a huge commercial complex proposed around the Fashion Square Mall on Route 29 that is supposed to be a new urbanist sort of project.

    Route 29 north of Cville at least used to have a pretty tree-lined median. There had been proposals to remove it to widen the road. I don't know whatever happened.

    They haven't really done anything with 29, not yet at least. It is an absolute nightmare to be on in peak travel times (which for this road is 7am-10pm 7 days a week), and the strong lack of parallel alternatives force a vast majority of traffic to use it.

    CVille is my 2nd home... my wife lives there weekdays for med school and I am there most weekends. It has its charms and Albermarle county is absolutely gorgeous overall, certainly one of the best in the state. However, it is an 'old money town' which means everyone is rich without having the businesses or a local economy that supplies it- not the best scenario for someone in IT and middle class like myself. The home prices there are off the charts. New condos being built in the ghetto termed 'walking distance' to the hospital (ie a solid 25 minute walk down roads you would NEVER want to walk down alone at night) start at 250k for 1000sq ft- and that ANYWHERE in Va other than NOVA or Norfolk is a joke.

  16. #66

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    Quote Originally posted by bigbadbuff
    They haven't really done anything with 29, not yet at least. It is an absolute nightmare to be on in peak travel times (which for this road is 7am-10pm 7 days a week), and the strong lack of parallel alternatives force a vast majority of traffic to use it.

    CVille is my 2nd home... my wife lives there weekdays for med school and I am there most weekends. It has its charms and Albermarle county is absolutely gorgeous overall, certainly one of the best in the state. However, it is an 'old money town' which means everyone is rich without having the businesses or a local economy that supplies it- not the best scenario for someone in IT and middle class like myself. The home prices there are off the charts. New condos being built in the ghetto termed 'walking distance' to the hospital (ie a solid 25 minute walk down roads you would NEVER want to walk down alone at night) start at 250k for 1000sq ft- and that ANYWHERE in Va other than NOVA or Norfolk is a joke.
    It was indeed very Old Dominion! Wahoowah.

    It was fine for Grad School. I would have found it insufferable as a working class midwestern undergrad.

    Is the crime level that high? I don't remember feeling that threatened. I lived just north of Courthouse Square (rented a room from a widow lady).

  17. #67
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    I've been travelling to Toronto and other major Canadian cities a lot lately. I work in real estate so I spend all day driving around and looking at different neighborhoods. Two things surprised me about Toronto - how big it is and how dull it is. But people there are reliable and honest.

    Calgary is dull, too. Canadians talked up Cowboys bar so much - so I went there and it was closed. I went to Ceili's and that was completely dead - only like 5 people were in there.

    Montreal is great though. It has a little bit of edge but not too much attitude. St. Laurent street is one of my favorite barhopping places anywhere. I was there on Labor Day weekend when the Canadian students arrived to McGill from provinces with higher drinking ages. Wow that area was packed.

    Now I work in New York now so maybe I'm hard to please. But Toronto really sucks. Please someone on this board tell me what bars to go to on a weekday night. Try to convince me Toronto doesn't really suck. Colorado Springs is even worse though.

    US cities I think are underrated are New Brunswick in New Jersey, Las Vegas, and Honolulu. World cities that are underrated are Mexico City (there is lots to do and see) and Ghent, Belgium (small city with two churches from 1400s in center and great variety of bars too.)

  18. #68
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    Stockhom, Sweden.

    The images that jump to peoples minds when I mention this brilliant city is; cold; expensive; blondes. They can all be true depending on the time of year. But if you go in the summer you get to wander through a 24 hour city. Sunset at 12 midnight, sunrise at 3Am. The beautiful Old Town (Gamla Stan) with its narrow streets at differing levels and vibrant street and night-life is a spot of urban designed heaven, which functions effectively as a city sector despite its charm attracting swarms of tourists and local alike.

    The fact that it is built on 7 main islands offering easy access to clean water right within the city centre (I know its clean, I swam in the fresh-water lake in the city centre at 6 in the morning), along with deer filled forest parks. The Swedes seem to have figured out how to have relatively dense development with access to wilderness nearby. And yet the dense development doesnt feel claustrophobic. It feels urban, and you are aware of the fact that you are in a city, and yet hop on the excellently functioning public transport and you can be on a ferry to another island or in the countryside within 30 minutes.

    People in the city mind their own business, and seem aloof (in that they are not really intersted in chatting to you or finding out where you are from), but if you need help you get it in spades. The place functions in a near perfect manner.

    On the downside the long hours of winter darkness and high winter suicide rates are unappealing.

  19. #69
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    1. Portland, OR - Simply Beautiful all year round!
    2. Columbus, OH - The Short North is the best bar/cultural area I've ever been in.
    3. Pittsburgh, PA - Very walkable and some of the best foods I've ever had.

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    Now I work in New York now so maybe I'm hard to please. But Toronto really sucks. Please someone on this board tell me what bars to go to on a weekday night. Try to convince me Toronto doesn't really suck.
    You seem to have made up your mind so I don't think there is much point trying to convince you Toronto doesn't suck - especially since weeknight drinking opportunities seems to be your only criteria. Try some of the bars on College Street, or places like the Drake Hotel. But the best place is Tuesday evenings at Mayday Malone's where my beer-league hockey team heads after the game

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    You seem to have made up your mind so I don't think there is much point trying to convince you Toronto doesn't suck - especially since weeknight drinking opportunities seems to be your only criteria. Try some of the bars on College Street, or places like the Drake Hotel. But the best place is Tuesday evenings at Mayday Malone's where my beer-league hockey team heads after the game
    I was commenting on nightlife, unique neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping - things like that. I haven't made up mind about Toronto, that's why I'm looking for suggestions. I'll be arriving in Toronto on Tuesday, November 29. I'll check out the places you recommend.

  22. #72
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    I like visiting Toronto and know a lot of other people who do. I didn't realize that it was really overlooked. I am in the Midwest so this might help.

    I think that many of the older "industrial" cities are overrated. Yes, it is important to have great buildings, but if the city has lost half of its economy and population it can be more of a history tour than a look into a real live city. It is sad but true. Of course I love America's older cities, and there are examples of ones who have transition into today's economy well.
    I sometimes feel I hear too much about a few of the "sunbelts" as well.

    I really do not hear enough about
    Seattle
    Portland
    sometimes not enough about SanFran
    It seems the NW coast gets kind of ignored by the domination of NY (east coast) , Chicago, and LA to the South.

    In the midwest, I think that Columbus is underrated. It is a city that has been doing many unique things in it's urban planning. They recently reconnected a gentrified older neighborhood with downtown Columbus by actually building over a highway by adding retail to both sides of a highway overpass.

  23. #73
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Is the crime level that high? I don't remember feeling that threatened.
    No, it's not bad overall but has some bad areas. I probably wouldn't feel too uncomfortable doing it but my wife is a good looking 25 year old blond so it's different

  24. #74
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    I was commenting on nightlife, unique neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping - things like that. I haven't made up mind about Toronto, that's why I'm looking for suggestions. I'll be arriving in Toronto on Tuesday, November 29. I'll check out the places you recommend.
    I was kidding about Mayday Malones btw. The other places were just mentioned off the top of my head. I'll check and see if anything is happening that week and let you know.

  25. #75
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    Manila, Philippines is one underrated city.

    Few tourists ever end up visiting because it's off the East / Southeast Asia tourist path of Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

    Although some of the criticism is well-deserved--a high crime rate, traditional architecture obliterated by World War II, rampant unsustainable growth, and asthma-inducing pollution--the vibrant nightlife in Malate neighborhood, the beautiful ruins of Fort Santiago within the original Spanish city walls, the gorgeous sunset along bayside Roxas Blvd, and unique Filipino culture (an amalgam of Spanish, Malay, and Chinese cultures) more than makes up for any of its deficiencies

    I was pretty excited when the glossy, globetrotting magazine Wallpaper* included an article on Manila in its November issue. I was so greatful that I was willing to overlook the cover's mispelling of the city's name as "Manilla".

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