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Thread: Your Impressions Of Metro Areas

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Your Impressions Of Metro Areas

    Earlier this week I was driving thru the Detroit Metropolitan Area. Because my toolbox has all those Cyburbian items.....geography and history,demographics, traffic flow data, growth pattern trends, amateur analysis of metro comparisons.....I enjoyed the short trip (as I always enjoy a ride thru a metro). This Bear's noggin immediately started calculating all the metropolitan areas I have spent time in, usually just as a passer-thru. Some metros I have spent some time in.

    This thread is for your observations and impressions of metropolitan areas that you have actually drove thru, lived in (short-time or long-time), or visited for business or pleasure. Our impressions of place are so often painted and tainted by others and articles, pictures and news. There are no rules for your observations and comments......the metro can be any size that you feel is appropriate for discussion.....any continent.....any period of time.

    I will start the metro tour with a few observations. Over the life cycle of this thread (if it is sustaining) I will throw in a few more.

    Detroit
    It is easy for Toledo-area residents to get a "feel for" Detroit. The bigger burg greatly influences Toledo. The metro developments nearly touch each other, separated by about a dozen miles on either side of Monroe, MI.

    Detroit's love affair with personal transportation is evident with all of the expressway miles in the metro. The area is criss-crossed with old-school expressways and the modern versions. The old school expressways tend to continually wind and curve
    and are often a mixture of 2-lane (same direction) and 3-lane (same direction). The newer expressways tend to have more lanes, less curves.

    I began regular trips to the Detroit Metro back in the mid-1960s. Yes, a GF was the reason. The western edge of the city, the suburbs on the west side, and the suburbs on the northwest side were oft-visited by this Bear. Telegraph Road was a regular route, including enjoying those famous "Michigan Lefts" or whatever you call them.

    The city and the inner-ring suburbs seemed to be filled with miles and miles of little white bungalows. Every major road (such as Eight Mile) was wide and often had the parallel small business service streets, allowing the speed on the main road to be maintained at an "acceptable Motor City level". In the 1960s I shopped in the downtown area (Christmas season at Hudson's), watched hockey at Olympia, marveled at the big (and very traditional) skyline of the CBD and the small (and newer) skyline out near Northland Center (one of the world's first bigger shopping centers).

    I spent considerable time in the Birmingham area, a second-ring or third-ring suburb in the north metro. A short drive up Adams Road quickly led to rolling farm land. By the mid-1070s those farms were gone and a sizeable chunk of Metropolitan Detroit's wealth had moved into the area.

    This week's trip to Detroit led Katie and this Bear up US 23, across many miles of I-94 (right into the heart of Detroit), on to M-10, a short jaunt on I-75, a tad bit of I-375. We enjoyed a night of baseball at one of the sport's newest ballparks. My blue eyes caught sight of that great sports bar, Hockeytown, the magnificent Fox Theater, the Detroit Opera House. My memories slid back to seeing Neil Diamond (in the late 1960s) perform at the beautiful Masonic.

    Memories include many a ball game at Tiger Stadium, Top Hat Hamburgs (similar to the White Castle "sliders", Bass Pro (northern suburbs), taking Katie to a Christmas Day Lions vs Broncos game, trying to find my GF's new house (on a little Detroit street just off Fenkell), driving all of Outer Drive, hearing the scream of college women in their undies (mad because I was in a friend's room, campus of University of Detroit), gasoline for 19.9-cents a gallon (Telegraph Road "gas war"), Detroit Metro Airport (numerous times), Masco Corporation World HQ (because I worked for one of their companies).

    My final Detroit comment: On my drive this week, seeing all of that traffic, all those new buildings (suburbs) seeming to replace all those old buildings (in the core).....Metropolitan Detroit is still a HUGE place and it still harbors a whole lot of power. It ain't "dead"......fer' sure.

    Dayton
    Central Dayton has only been a "drive-thru" for this Bear. I-75 cuts a swath just to the west of the CBD. The downtown skyline appears to be a smaller version of Toledo's skyline (and Toledo's is not very big).

    Years ago I dated a school teacher from a suburb of Dayton, West Carrollton. That suburb seemed prosperous (aka "busy"). I remember that the terrain was somewhat hilly.
    _____

    What say you? Any metro impressions?

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I don't travel much...

    Drive thru Jacksonville FL and it's a living hell. Take the beltway west of town and cross the St John's River..... sweet... Wide river, houses here and there, great vistas....

    Same thing with the Suwannee... I go thru some dinky places no matter what route I take back to Orlando.... but the Suwannee is so pretty everywhere. Bluffs which are unusual for most FL rivers, rural enclaves, very nice. Esp in Fanning Springs...

    My sticking point, Orlando. People who go to Disney/I-Drive/Universal don't have a clue what the area is like. Lake- and water- based, at least in the old days before sprawl, plenty of small town downtowns, beautiful homes dating back well over 100 years. It was an incredibly great place to grow up. Unfortunately, it has become a chore to try to ignore all the cookie cutter subdivisions in the hinterlands.(which naturally, are home to 99% of the people who complain about everything....)

  3. #3
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    My sticking point, Orlando. People who go to Disney/I-Drive/Universal don't have a clue what the area is like. Lake- and water- based, at least in the old days before sprawl, plenty of small town downtowns, beautiful homes dating back well over 100 years. It was an incredibly great place to grow up. Unfortunately, it has become a chore to try to ignore all the cookie cutter subdivisions in the hinterlands.(which naturally, are home to 99% of the people who complain about everything....)
    The couple times I've been to Orlando I stayed in the Lake Mary-Sanford area which I really liked. I didn't care much for Orlando proper though.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Bangkok

    Huge. Very diverse: ultra modern skyscrapers...with new ones popping up constantly, and still a few klongs with traditional homes; very old temples (in gold); structure has some peculiarities. There is no observable "down town" - observable in the sense of a particular cluster of skyscrapers. There are a number of MAJOR streets, but in many cases, when you turn off of them in smaller "soi" you find yourself in incredible quietude. Because many of the soi were privately owned, and they never got bought out and connected to create cross-streets.

    Tollways into the heart of the city. But even the tollways get clogged in rush hour. Then it's faster to use a motor-cycle taxi. Tuktuks are super cheap but no faster than a taxi - which are also cheap AND often airconditions. But, having been here 15 years ago, I think there is far more and better control over the traffic now than then.

    Vibrant life on the streets - have a snack from a side-walk fruit seller, or go inside to a sophisticated restaurant. Tremendous skytrain - clean, fast, reliable, cheap, airconditioned, much appreciated by the users. Ditto for the ultramodern subway.

    Am working there now... loving it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    So on the way through the big D, did you stop and say hi to Kwami?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Other than having had lived in Denver , most have been a "drive-thru" .
    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)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    The couple times I've been to Orlando I stayed in the Lake Mary-Sanford area which I really liked. I didn't care much for Orlando proper though.
    I really liked downtown Orlando, great nightlife scene. I also like the suburban area northwest of downtown, particularly Winter Park. Baldwin Park was nice too, though a bit incomplete when I visited.

    I agree with ZG in that the typical Orlando tourist experience is rather limited and doesn't really give a fair picture of the metro area as a whole. I think the Orlando metro area would be a lot more livable if it weren't for the absolutely horrendous traffic.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Earlier this week I was driving thru the Detroit Metropolitan Area.

    Dayton
    Central Dayton has only been a "drive-thru" for this Bear. I-75 cuts a swath just to the west of the CBD. The downtown skyline appears to be a smaller version of Toledo's skyline (and Toledo's is not very big).

    Years ago I dated a school teacher from a suburb of Dayton, West Carrollton. That suburb seemed prosperous (aka "busy"). I remember that the terrain was somewhat hilly.
    _____

    What say you? Any metro impressions?

    Bear
    Any thoughts on Dayton's transit system, with its extensive network of electric 'trackless' trolley buses?

    Mike

  9. #9
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    LA:

    About two years ago I was out there for a couple of weeks and spent the majority of my time in Long Beach and Torrence. After seeing LA for years on television and movies, the cities and the burbs were incredibly more dense than what I was expecting. And it looks as if there is still room to get more dense without taking up too much more land.

    I also knew that the area had a diverse population, but I thought coming from a relatively diverse population in the Detroit area would have prepared me for that. No dice. The LA area had a population that seemed more diverse than anywhere else I have ever been.



    NYC:


    A few years back I was dating a girl who grew up on Long Island and I spent a summer out there and then a few other random weeks there during other seasons so besides the touristy things in the city, most of my experience with the Big Apple is based on Long Island.

    We were in the town of Hempstead and it reminded me of the second or third ring suburbs in Metro Detroit (I guess I would considered Queens to be like the first-ring suburb) with the same brick pre-war architecture and slightly larger lots than the residential neighborhoods closer to the core. Just like here, there were some neighborhoods sprinkled in that looked as if they had only been developed within the last thirty years or so and featured the same ranch style construction.

    The last time I was there was in 2003 or 2004 and it was before I became really interested in planning or development (but I was still a nerd who enjoyed demography and geography) and while Nassau County was incredibly dense and incredibly busy, there didn't seem to be much new development taking place or room for it to occur in the near future.

    The streets were much more narrow than I was used to (even the main arterial roads) and traffic was horrendus, but there were the trains if you wanted to get into the NYC or somewhere else near a line.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Cleveland

    Before I address "Cleveland".....mgk920.....this Bear is not at all familiar with Dayton's transit system. Folks I know who are familiar with the Dayton area (they are from a town just north of the metro) are proud of the big air force base and the area around that facility but have less kind words for the actual city of Dayton. Dayton has a metro of about a million, but the city itself is much smaller than Toledo. Toledo has a small metro, bigger core city.

    Cleveland
    Quite familiar with the city sometimes called "The Mistake By The Lake". My older brother and his family have lived in outer-ring bedroom suburb Painesville Township for about 30 years. Over my life I have attended football games in Cleveland, wandered department stores in the CBD (years ago), attended local theater presentations at a couple different venues, arrived late for a big wedding, and even.....shocker.....hit a couple taverns.

    Cleveland's downtown is a nice mixture of older (traditional) skyscrapers, some very tall and newer towers, new sports stadia, an older (not visitor-friendly) convention center, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Because some of my visits to Cleveland have taken place during a work week, I viewed crowded sidewalks and crowded restaurants......and that was surpise. It appears that their CBD has a large number of worker bees.

    Last year, going to a wedding in Akron, I took "the long way", so I could cruise Lake Avenue (through some older and quite pleasing to the eyes neighborhoods on the west side), wander the CBD, drive through the famous "Flats" area, and follow the winding Valley Freeway, past the industrial might of one of our country's largest manufacturing centers. In December I was in Cleveland to visit my brother, recently transfered to a long-term-care facility. That trip took my along the Outerbelt Freeway (I-480) as it works its' way through countless suburban communities.

    Back in the 1960s, we met some girls (go figure) at a beach (between Toledo and Cleveland), struck up a friendship, and followed them to their homes in Garfield Heights. One of the girls had a house with a back yard that ended at a steep cliff, overlooking the valley below. Being a NW Ohio "flatlander" I was impressed. Dang if I can remember their names.

    The Shoreway (I-90, east of the CBD) has been a regular route for me, heading for my brother's place. Back in the 1970s the model railroader in me loved seeing the huge locomotive works that was adjacent to the crowded expressway. That facility is long gone.....if you like trains you would have loved seeing that complex.

    My brother and I did some fishing in Lake Erie, off of Fairport Harbor. Never had the results at that end of Lake Erie that I have had over the years in the western basin (shallower) end of the big lake. Also did a lot of salmon fishing on the Grand River, with some success.

    My brother taught for years at the high school in tiny Fairport Harbor. The industrial/fishing town was filled with many Swedes and Finns. Across the Grand River from Fairport Harbor is the town of Grand River. Some great riverside taverns along that stretch. Good fish for eats, too! My SIL taught for years at a large Ohio Youth Commission prison in the eastern 'burbs.

    Most of you probably already know of the reputation of Cleveland's "emerald necklace". Spent some time hiking and wandering some of the metro parks that are within that necklace.

    I even searched and found the near-downtown neighborhood that served as the setting for my favorite movie of all time, "The Deer Hunter". We found the small grocery, the church that held the wedding, and the rental hall. If you know the flick, you know the important parts that those props played to the story. (BTW, the story in the movie takes place in Pennsylvania, but much of the filming took place in Cleveland.)

    Cleveland has received some bad press over the years. But I am always impressed about the size of the metro, all of those dang suburbs lined up against each other (geographically and emotionally), the criss-crossing of the freeways, the great old neighborhoods, and the vibrant commerce that is so apparent.

    I like metro Cleveland.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    Drive thru Jacksonville FL and it's a living hell. Take the beltway west of town and cross the St John's River..... sweet... Wide river, houses here and there, great vistas....
    I actually think Jacksonville might be hell. There is really nothing that could ever convince me to go back there, and I only ever stayed there for 2 days at a time max.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    The Twin Cities

    It has been quite a few years since I last visited the Twin Cities. I have been in Minneapolis - St. Paul Metro about four different times. One time was just a drive-through, on my way to International Falls, MN. The only thing I did on that trip was to make sure I drove on an expressway I had never been on, just to see more of the community.

    Another trip to The Twins was part of a Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) adventure. On the way to the BWCA we spent a couple days in Minneapolis, exploring parks, downtown Minny, and checking out Minnehaha Falls.

    A few years later, another trip to the BWCA gave me a chance to drive-through the Twin Cities. We stayed in the area but did not do any metro exploring.

    In the 1980s I spent a week in Minneapolis. My son, then a 15-year old drug-user, was going through rehab at a famed center near downtown. "Family Week" was the final week of the 4-week program, so I was there, with my ex-wife also in-town. I did a lot of metro exploring, including wandering through some great old factories that had been converted to stores, walking the downtown Minneapolis area (a lot!), wandering the big campus of the University of Minnesota, and driving all around the metro, to get a feel for it.

    At that time in my life I was with the manufacturing company, so I also found time to visit a site where my products were being used......had a chance to take some pictures back to the workplace.

    I didn't spend much time in St. Paul.....and if I ever get back, I will. What I remember about Minneapolis - St. Paul is how busy the metro is, how crowded the expressways are, and how young the populace seemed.

    I would like to get back.....and Katie has said she would like to go there, also.....of course, the term "Mall of America" slips into her Twin City conversations.

    (Of course.....I often compare the Twins to my fake city, so that is a good reason for me to check them out again. )

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

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