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Thread: Coolest College Towns

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Coolest College Towns

    What's the coolest college town around? (lemme guess - your alma mater ) Better yet, what characteristics, apart from having a college nearby, do you think are essential ingredients for a great college town?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    What's the coolest college town around? Better yet, what characteristics (apart from having a college nearby) do you think are essential ingredients for a great college town?
    Of the ones I have been to..

    Of the ones I have been to..

    Most Famous= South Bend, Indiana
    Cant Argue with their History ND


    Most Collegiate= Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Even though it is a fairly big city it still has the feel of a collegiate learning atmosphere. The kind of place you see students and professors debating current events at a coffee house. Michigan University

    Best Small College Town= Sherpherdstown, WV
    Home of Historical Shepherdstown College. It has the C & O Cannel, The Appalachian Train and a historic downtown setting. The college is small and rich in culture. The Clintons were regulars here as well as other presidents. Middle East Piece Summit was held here as well

    Best Big College Town= Boston
    Many Many different colleges call Boston home. The college town feel is not lost in this metropolis

    Cheapest Party College Town= Morgantown, WV
    Morgantown WV may not win in beauty contest but it was home for 5 years so I thought I would mention it. From the 5$ all you can drink on Tuesdays, the penny pitchy nights on Wednesdays and the top ranked basketball and football teams; High Street erupts nearly every night like Marti gra only to be overshadowed by the grant street block parties. West Virginia University has been ranked the #1 party school in the nation several times.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    What about an Ann Arbor, MI - Madison, WI showdown? Both offer healthy doses of specialty niche bookstores, brew pubs, and coffee houses where tweed-clad-elbow-patch-pipe-smoking-bearded profs and tie-die-hemp-garment-bra-burning-boycott-Nestle types can be found in close proximity.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Madison, Wisconsin is a great college town. Boston/Cambridge and Seattle have collegiate feels for big cities. Hanover, NH and Northampton, MA are both cute. I think the keys to great college towns are walkable areas, community support and involvement with the school, lots of shops and restaurants, and arts/sports events.

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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    What's the coolest college town around? (lemme guess - your alma mater )
    Better yet, what characteristics, apart from having a college nearby, do you think are essential ingredients for a great college town?
    1. Well of course, yes - Logan, Utah.
    2. Having great recreational opportunties (skiing) just up the canyon highway;
    if the school wasn't there and besides being the county seat, would the town exist ?;
    in Happy Valley ;
    having a Main Street;
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    What about an Ann Arbor, MI - Madison, WI showdown? Both offer healthy doses of specialty niche bookstores, brew pubs, and coffee houses where tweed-clad-elbow-patch-pipe-smoking-bearded profs and tie-die-hemp-garment-bra-burning-boycott-Nestle types can be found in close proximity.
    Ive always wanted to visit Madison.. I have heard from several people that they have the nicest Student Union in the country built right on a lake. I will have to make a trip up there soon.

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    If there's going to be an Ann Arbor-Madison showdown, I think there needs to be an Austin-Boston showdown for best big-city college town. As much as it pains me to say it, being a Sooner born and bred, Austin is a better college town than Norman, actual institution of higher education aside (UT sucks [note: strong personal bias in this statement] and has a butt-ugly campus to boot [no strong personal bias on this one, though]. OU has a beautiful campus.). If you substituted any college for UT and kept Austin the way it is, I'd probably like it a lot more here.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Mind you college towns are not everyone's cup of tea and just because one may enjoy living in a college town in their early 20's, experiencing All Things Shiny and New doesn't mean there aren't downsides/problems that might make them much less desirable places later in life e.g. having an impressive host of bars to choose from on Saturday night may be great for an undergrad, but if you're a 'townie' walking past vomit in every alleyway on Sunday morning gets mighty old after a while.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    What's the coolest college town around? (lemme guess - your alma mater ) Better yet, what characteristics, apart from having a college nearby, do you think are essential ingredients for a great college town?
    I don't think it is the best, but I think it may have the most potential. I think a great case could be made for San Marcos, TX. Also, I think we should emphasize college towns versus college cities. Attending college somewhere like South Bend, Clemson or Auburn is very different from Boston, Berkeley or Madison, where you have a larger city that is not as reliant on the college economicly.

    Population of 50,000
    Texas State University: 28,000 give or take
    If the athletics would improve, I think the college town personality would really show. It already has great cultural stuff, natural environment, live music, students active locally, etc...

    Below is what I think as far as generic characteristics of great college towns.

    Characteristics
    Pretty much the same stuff you need for the Creative Class
    Pedestrian-oriented campus connected to the community
    Close integration with the surrounding community
    student population > 30% of the city population
    young population
    alumni that have stuck around
    high density
    multi-cultural - lots of different ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds
    emphasis on the arts (performing included)
    live music scene
    massive tailgate parties
    high quality natural environment
    students active in local politics
    active student organizations, Greek or otherwise

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wv06 View post
    Most Famous= South Bend, Indiana
    Cant Argue with their History ND
    I've got to say I was let down by South Bend. The campus is nice but there's really no college town atmosphere (aside from football-mania).

    I always think of the places people jokingly refer to as "People's Republics of...," Cambridge, MA, Athens, GA, Berkely, CA, Madison, WI, etc.

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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    I've got to say I was let down by South Bend. The campus is nice but there's really no college town atmosphere (aside from football-mania).

    I always think of the places people jokingly refer to as "People's Republics of...," Cambridge, MA, Athens, GA, Berkely, CA, Madison, WI, etc.
    1. I agree.
    2. These place are usually referred to as X Sq Miles Surrounded by Reality
    Don't forget Boulder, CO.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    All four major public universities in New York are in suburban locales. Buffalo has a smaller (original campus) of the University of Buffalo in the city and the surrounding neighborhood is known as University Heights. It certainly has somewhat of a "college town/neighborhood" feel but does have some crime issues and is probably in somewhat of a decline. The main campus is out in suburban Amherst and the surrounding area does not have a college town feel at all. Its just typical suburbia surrounded by office parks and strip malls. The university certainly spurred development in the surrounding area but its really just typical suburbia.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    The coolest ones I have seen so far are Northampton, MA and Chapel Hill, NC. The free bus system and new urbanist stuff in Chapel Hill are pretty darn cool.

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    My hometown, Winter Park FL. Rollins College (most famous alumnus: Mr Rogers!), which has always gotten a lot of students from the northeast, is directly adjacent to Park Avenue, the shopping/dining/event center of town. Great art festivals, a farmers' market, museums, boat/canoe rentals to travel a chain of 5 large lakes, all within a couple of blocks of the college. It's a beautiful area, all very walkable.

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Northampton, MA is a great college town, and I didn't even go to school there. It meets pretty much all of the criteria that Suburb Repairman mentioned, except perhaps massive tailgate parties (I wouldn't know )... plus, it's a fun place whether you're 19, 39 or 59. There are lots of bike trails, good restaurants, and cultural events in the region.

    My undergraduate alma mater is decidedly not in a college town. Chapel Hill, where I earned my master's degree, is a typical college town in some ways (e.g., team sports mania) but not in others (multicultural or "artsy"), and I never really connected with it as a student.

    Added:
    I just saw jmello's post. Free bus system and new urbanist?? Well, none of that was in Chapel Hill when I was.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    I just saw jmello's post. Free bus system and new urbanist?? Well, none of that was in Chapel Hill when I was.
    Well, you should schedule a visit. It has become the People's Republic of Chapel Hill: free bus system, community bicycles, new urbanist neighborhoods, large co-op, funky cafes and bars, etc.

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    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    lawrence, ks. recently designated as "most walkable city" by some study.

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I've always been very impressed with Davis, CA. It's not as well known as the obivous Berkeleys, Boulders, and Madisons out there, but it is town that is overwhelmingly connected to the University, has a great downtown and the best bike network that I've ever seen. It's also an extremely clean town - much more so than any of the other UC towns that I've seen - especially parts of Berkeley or Santa Cruz, where you constantly have to watch for "stuff" on the ground
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Oxford, Miss

    http://www.oxfordmississippi.com/

    I have always thought of Oxford as the "classic" college town > a small drop of culture where many least expect > and as some feel, the 'center of the universe'.

    Check out the above site a buddy of mine recently started as to why I say that > or just watch this short doc film: http://www.oxfordmississippi.com/oxf...o-documentary/
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    I've always been very impressed with Davis, CA. It's not as well known as the obivous Berkeleys, Boulders, and Madisons out there, but it is town that is overwhelmingly connected to the University, has a great downtown and the best bike network that I've ever seen. It's also an extremely clean town - much more so than any of the other UC towns that I've seen - especially parts of Berkeley or Santa Cruz, where you constantly have to watch for "stuff" on the ground
    Davis is a great college town! Really, it's a great little city, period. I'm also a fan of San Luis Obispo, CA.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Davis is a great college town! Really, it's a great little city, period. I'm also a fan of San Luis Obispo, CA.
    SLO is great! Plus, there you have a great college town, perfect year round weather, and a gorgeous beach close by.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Faber College

    I nominate Faber College in Pennsylvania. Recognizing the importance of a solid education, you cannot beat the inscription that greets the visitor as you enter the campus: "Knowledge Is Good".

    Faber College fits comfortably in the glove of its' hometown, especially with special endowments from local businessmen. The town warmly welcomes Faber students (and even non-students) for shopping excursions, at special pricing, and grand parades. Citizenry from the town even attend student functions, such as rush parties at the outstanding fraternity houses that adorn the picturesque campus. Special bonds are created when influential townsfolk and students in pursuit of education share common endeavors. Even youngsters are invited and willingly participate in these educational experiments.

    Faber College offers many opportunities for educational excellence, including world-recognized animal husbandry (equine a specialty), martial arts (especially bolster challenges), and civics. Faber's best-in-class student government, similar to a Maine Town Meeting, strongly promotes democracy at its' very best. The school is also making a mark because of its' widely-praised culinary experiences.

    Students from Faber College have proudly engaged in creative endeavors with neighboring institutions, even helping students from those other colleges negotiate the grieving process when one of their own was killed in a kiln explosion. That grieving process often involved helping each other get an understanding of the varied cultures and traditions that inhabit our good land.

    Alumni from Faber College include a United States Senator, prominent writers, and many other distinguished citizens that have helped make America strong and free.

    Again I nominate Faber College as the "coolest" college.....blending into its' community almost like a parade gone crazy.....helping its' community garner the nod of "coolest college town".

    Bear
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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    I nominate Faber College in Pennsylvania. Recognizing the importance of a solid education, you cannot beat the inscription that greets the visitor as you enter the campus: "Knowledge Is Good".

    Faber College fits comfortably in the glove of its' hometown, especially with special endowments from local businessmen. The town warmly welcomes Faber students (and even non-students) for shopping excursions, at special pricing, and grand parades. Citizenry from the town even attend student functions, such as rush parties at the outstanding fraternity houses that adorn the picturesque campus. Special bonds are created when influential townsfolk and students in pursuit of education share common endeavors. Even youngsters are invited and willingly participate in these educational experiments.

    Faber College offers many opportunities for educational excellence, including world-recognized animal husbandry (equine a specialty), martial arts (especially bolster challenges), and civics. Faber's best-in-class student government, similar to a Maine Town Meeting, strongly promotes democracy at its' very best. The school is also making a mark because of its' widely-praised culinary experiences.

    Students from Faber College have proudly engaged in creative endeavors with neighboring institutions, even helping students from those other colleges negotiate the grieving process when one of their own was killed in a kiln explosion. That grieving process often involved helping each other get an understanding of the varied cultures and traditions that inhabit our good land.

    Alumni from Faber College include a United States Senator, prominent writers, and many other distinguished citizens that have helped make America strong and free.

    Again I nominate Faber College as the "coolest" college.....blending into its' community almost like a parade gone crazy.....helping its' community garner the nod of "coolest college town".

    Bear
    Don't forget the ROTC program that has turned out less than stellar officers.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Can anybody top Teh Bear's classical posting ?

    Dean Vernon Wormer: Who is the best poster in Cyburbia ?
    Greg Marmalard: Well that would be hard to say, sir. They're each outstanding in their own way.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  25. #25
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    ..... UC towns that I've seen - especially parts of Berkeley or Santa Cruz.....
    The problem with UC Santa Cruz (which I term a Berkeley wanna-be but without the sense of humor) in contrast to Cal and UC Davis, is that UCSC is not really "in town" rather it's on a hill northwest of Santa Cruz, albeit, within the city limits yet separated by distance and topography. The sprawling campus is in the upper left hand corner of this image.

    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

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