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Thread: Boring cities: what makes them so?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    .

    I assume we're talking about SAFE cities when we want them not to be boring. I find physical layout important. If there is no place for an individual to safely get away from the crowd and "hide" while outdoors, that place is boring. Alleys, micro-parks, gazebo-type shelters, open side and rear commercial yards, old buildings with empty floors, etc., make things interesting...SAFE then depends on the age structure of the community, the national and local economy, and other factors.

    I find the newer parts of Las Vegas to be intensely boring by this standard, where you have to get to your room to ever be alone.

    .

  2. #27
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    I agree that young people (20-35) make a city more vibrant, or can, but then the problem becomes the inability to get these people to show up in the city in the first place. And I agree that urban planning as entertainment is something that is going to happen, seeing as cities would love to have those people and want to draw them in. Bloomberg talked about this in a press release, saying that to attract and keep young people the city needed the best nightclubs or something. I think that nightlife and vibrancy attracts more nightlife and vibrancy, so a city probably needs a little spark or nucleus to start it off and attract the first adventurers.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian
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    Context is also important; T5 and T6 design cues may help people approach and understand a "boring" city in a different way.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    "In Soviet Russia, cities find PEOPLE boring!" [/Yakov Smirnoff]

    A lot of good points have been hit upon, but I would add a few:

    1. Diversity of architecture, presence of public art, intersting streetscape, etc.
    2. Interesting public spaces (or private gathering spaces like local hangouts, etc.)
    3. Visible street activity (are there sidewalk cafes? business with window displays? people walking around?)
    4. A sense of history
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  5. #30
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I think a major factor is whether or not there is a large(r) city nearby. I've heard too many times people say that my former college town DeKalb was boring, and these were college students, and they would go home on the weekends. It was a suitcase/commuter school. Well of course, you'll find it boring if you have a world class city, Chicago, an hour away.

    But is a Midwestern college town like DeKalb really that boring? Not at all. Restaurants serving food all night long, bars open til 2 at least, weekdays like Thursday being real happening times, college athletics & tailgating, live music from the bars to the Convo Center, tons of clubs/organizations, frats/sororities, house parties on any given day of the week, historical museums, theaters, an active political scene, and a gritty but somewhat lively downtown.

    But people find the glitz and glamor of Chicago more exciting, or they love the dance clubs and pretentious nature associated with the city. Some people just love techno, grinding, dressing up, and paying $50 every time you go out. Whatever. I'd rather get blitzed for less than $20 and wear whatever I was wearing that day and chill with my friends and enjoy some real music.

    So if you are within reasonable access to a world class city like L.A., Chicago, or New York, I'm sure that plays a significant role in people's perceptions.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  6. #31
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Boredom is a problem on the part of the subjective viewpoint, not of the objective environment.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    What do you think of the following as indicators of a boring city? Having one or two of these indicators may not make a city boring, but when they start to add up, it's a formula for boredom.

    Things planners might not be able to change.

    * Lack of outdoors recreational opportunities. No nearby hills, mountains, and/or large bodies of water.

    * Lack of demographic and cultural diversity. As per the example of TexanOkie; the population is skewed too much towards one subculture or demographic group, alienating those that aren't part of that group. Examples: Austin, Salt Lake City, El Paso, places that self-identify as a "good family town".

    * Lack of a "scene" or any contemporary alternative cultural presence. Basically, the polar opposite of an Austin or San Francisco.

    * Lack of colleges and universities.

    * Lack of quality museums, theaters, cultural institutions, and the like. Even if one seldom visits a museum or attends a play, cultural resources still color how one may feel about a city or region.

    * Lack of activities or diversions that can be enjoyed for free.

    * Lack of young singles.

    * Overwhelming social conservativism. See Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs, Grand Rapids, Greenville, or Jackson.


    Things planners might be able to change.

    * Lack of nightlife or a district where people gather a night. Nightlife does not equal bars or clubs alone.

    * Lack of moderately active pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods or districts, or "third places".

    * Homogeneous built environment. The region experienced some boom where the built environment was defined in a 10 or 20 year span.

    * Homogeneous business environment. Chains dominate the restaurant scene, even outside of newer suburban areas.
    The best post on this thread. One thing I would add is lack of transplants. Cities where few people have moved there from other places tend to be on the boring side.

    All these points sound a lot like Oklahoma City, where I currently live and no matter how much I try to like it, I still find it to be on the boring side considering the size of the city. Of course there are places much more boring than OKC out there but few of them have a metro area population of 1.3 million people I am certain. Here in OKC, there is no natural recreation, the city population is heavily skewed towards young families, there is a growing but still very small (considering the size of the city) alternative cultural presence, and the place has a very socially conservative atmosphere. I envy those who are married suburban homeowners with children because this is actually a pretty nice place for that lifestyle.

    The last four things you mentioned are things the city is working on changing, but the city was going in the wrong direction for so long it can't be changed overnight.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian
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    So let's talk about weather.

    What is there for college kids (who may or may not have cars) to do when it's snowing - within walking distance?

    Perhaps the idea that it is boring has more to do with what's going on within that 1/2 mile radius of the school.

    And considering it's mostly winter while they are there that's a problem. Obviously it is a culture clash with NYC - I think of my time Upstate (Syracuse) - definitely a dearth of ethnic diversity - very little was walkable. Pretty much all you can do is drink and make babies when it's snowing. In my town center area we had a skating rink, and an art house movie theater and oh yeah the BK. Woohoo! Granted the skating rink and movie theater did allow for some amusement so it wasn't horrible for me.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian
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    Also - I just ran across this - you may already know the article with it but just in case:

    http://plannersweb.com/2014/08/neigh...etimes-better/

  10. #35
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmmm

    It is much like pron......I know it when I see it

    Some boring ass cities:
    Wilmington DelawherethehellamI
    Topeka Kansas
    Tulsa Oklahoma
    Bismarck North Dakota
    Dallas Texas
    Sacramento California
    St. George Utah
    Little Crock Arkansas

    The One....pissing off Cyburbians for over 10 years!
    Skilled Adoxographer

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    I think boring I think stereotypical suburbs. We may just be talking large cities though.

    I think no sidewalks, culdesacs everywhere, bad traffic, big box retail, short trees, and walmart super centers.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    It is much like pron......I know it when I see it

    Some boring ass cities:
    Wilmington DelawherethehellamI
    Topeka Kansas
    Tulsa Oklahoma
    Bismarck North Dakota
    Dallas Texas
    Sacramento California
    St. George Utah
    Little Crock Arkansas

    The One....pissing off Cyburbians for over 10 years!
    I'll second Tapuka. Also one of the worst planned cities out there in terms of both roads and development patterns.

    Quote Originally posted by Doberman View post
    I think boring I think stereotypical suburbs. We may just be talking large cities though.

    I think no sidewalks, culdesacs everywhere, bad traffic, big box retail, short trees, and walmart super centers.
    You have to create your own fun in the suburbs. They only work when there is some kind of recreation to enjoy or you're a homebody. I always wondered out into the desert or we rode dirt bikes. Some people used the trails for horseback riding. Granted I grew up in Phoenix where there were always options and a lake to play in within an hours drive. Otherwise there needs to be a library or something to do for entertainment.

    My thoughts on boring cities, it's easier to say what you need.
    You need to have an active and interesting looking shopping district. Not like my town that has an empty main street because the shops just aren't that exciting.
    You need to have a bar scene I would be interested in hanging out at. It's better if they're clustered together so we can walk around and bar hop.
    You need to be able to answer this question with a couple options: What are we going to do tonight?
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #38
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    My City may be a lot of things, but boring it is not.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  14. #39
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    http://www.local10.com/news/money/20...erica/26536246

    Here's a "20 most boring cities in America" list, determined by a study from Movoto. Many are megaburbs (Aurora CO, Plano TX, etc) and satellites (San Bernardino CA, Riverside CA, etc), but a small number are central cities.

    1) Lubbock, Texas
    5) Fort Wayne, Indiana
    8) Stockton, California
    10) Laredo, Texas
    12) Colorado Springs, Colorado
    15) Wichita, Kansas
    17) Fresno, California
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  15. #40
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Montana might have three non-"boring" cities: Billings, Missoula and Butte. Billings because it is the only large city (though a small to medium sized city by most standards). Missoula because it is a hippie college town and more eclectic. Butte because, well, it is Butte and has a kickass St. Patrick's Day celebration and 4th of July fireworks show (held on the 3rd).

    Great Falls, which has an air force base, is even pretty low key.

    My town is pretty boring. There is a vibrant arts community, if you are into that. But let's face it, Farmer's Market is the most exciting thing that happens on a given week. And Live at Five on Wednesdays during the summer is our party and it is pretty tame. If you commit a minor infraction of the law you are more likely to get a mild lecture from a cop than a ticket or jail.

    Sure on a Saturday night there might be a scuffle at the Gold Bar. Once a guy was refused service at a bar because he was already really drunk, so he drove his truck thourgh the front of the bar. Occasionally a transient will stab another transient.

    Our homeless shelter has a dog park, for god's sakes.

    People tend to recreate out of town - hiking, fishing, hunting and camping.

    Yeah, my town is pretty "boring." But I like that.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  16. #41
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    http://www.local10.com/news/money/20...erica/26536246

    Here's a "20 most boring cities in America" list, determined by a study from Movoto. Many are megaburbs (Aurora CO, Plano TX, etc) and satellites (San Bernardino CA, Riverside CA, etc), but a small number are central cities.

    1) Lubbock, Texas
    5) Fort Wayne, Indiana
    8) Stockton, California
    10) Laredo, Texas
    12) Colorado Springs, Colorado
    15) Wichita, Kansas
    17) Fresno, California
    A few comments to the list - since no list is ever accurate.

    9) Mesa, Arizona is boring. It's known as the biggest city with nothing in it!
    18) Glendale, Arizona. I'd have to take them off the list. Yes it's not the most exciting town in the world and more of the entertainment is in Phoenix next door, but Glendale is where you live. It is also home to the Cardinals and Coyotes (keep you NFL trash talk to the appropriate thread). They're starting to build a nightlife for west valley people (it ain't Scottsdale, but who wants those problems). It also has some nice mountains to hike, great parks programs, and the usual things that most good suburbs have.
    15) Wichita needs to be replaced with Tapuka, KS. I've been to Wichita a few times and Topeka. I usually have a decent time in Old Town with all the bars, just try not to get shot (seems to happen every weekend). Wichita also has some art and is working on recreation - bike paths for all you bike lovers. Tapuka on the other hand just down right sucks. I grabbed a cigar every night and went back to the hotel and read a book.

    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Yeah, my town is pretty "boring." But I like that.
    Yeah, mines kinda boring too, every now and then some weird crime happens for everyone to talk about, but I prefer I little more excitement without homeless dogs, or in our case fights over abortion, creation, fluoride, or some other crap no one really cares about. Still, I do have a decent theater that brings in B list acts and there is a local indoor football league for fun and the annual combine demolition derby.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  17. #42
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    It is much like pron......I know it when I see it

    Some boring ass cities:
    Wilmington DelawherethehellamI
    Topeka Kansas
    Tulsa Oklahoma
    Bismarck North Dakota
    Dallas Texas
    Sacramento California
    St. George Utah
    Little Crock Arkansas

    The One....pissing off Cyburbians for over 10 years!
    My comment should probably be moved to the Cities and Places subforum, but as a one-time Sacramentan I take umbrage at the inclusion of Sacramento in such a list! Seriously, you need to take a walk in Midtown and visit the Crocker Museum, etc. However I would agree that Downtown gets pretty emptied out after business hours... all the life is in Midtown. Sacramento has a thriving arts/local music scene, great unique pubs, coffee shops, restaurants of every cuisine, etc.

    I'm sure representatives of the other cities would chime in with similar comments.

  18. #43
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    oh yeah

    I forgot Indianapolis......the warm milk toast of cities
    Skilled Adoxographer

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