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Culture Hallmark Urbanism and the Future of Small Town America

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,988
Points
63

Evergreen is something of a template for other towns in the Hallmark universe: off-the-beaten-path hamlets that are not suburbs or even exurbs, appear not to rely heavily on tourism or any hospitality industry of note, and, most important, are self-sustaining, closed systems supported by a racially diverse and demographically varied tax base. In fact, the sheer economics of making a profit don’t appear to be of concern to anyone. Things like industry, maintenance, population, zoning, cost of living, system of government, and other critical facets of a town’s infrastructure are all kept deliberately vague.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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18,808
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69
Oh, oh, oh - is he going to analyze urbanism in Lifetime Movies of the Week next?

Santa_Clarita_Valley.jpg

Lifetime Movie of the Week urbanism is Santa Clarita, California.

The Blue Route corridor outside Philadelphia also shows up from time to time for Lifetime movie settings. Vancouver still makes some appearances; big Arts and Crafts houses with American flags, lots of conifers, and the stray Canada Post mailbox or metric speed limit sign.

Surprisingly, Buffalo is kind of prominent in the Lifetime universe. It's the favorite filming location of one of the more prolific producers of made-for-TV women-in-peril movies.

 
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Dan

Dear Leader
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18,808
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69
Back to Hallmark urbanism.

I'd say the closest thing I've seen to Hallmark urbanism in person is Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The village and its surroundings are solidly middle to upper middle class, and just 1.7% of all families are under the poverty line. The built environment is very manicured and in-your-face quaint. The population is 97% white, but there was a long history of abolitionism. The closest major metro area is Albany, about an hour drive away. There's little within commuting distance, except maybe Pittsfield

I didn't take many pictures of Stockbridge when I visited. Norman Rockwell's painting of Main Street actually comes close to reality.

Normal Rockwell - Main Street in Stockbridge MA.jpg

stockbridge main street.jpg

I really thought "this place violates all the laws of economic geography" when I visited. Maybe everybody in town either owns a quaint gift or jewelery shop, is on the staff at Austen Riggs, teaches at a small Monteorri or Waldorf school, or writes droll fiction pieces for the New Yorker, I dunno. Nearby Great Barrington is also a well-off quaint overload head scratcher.

I haven't been to Manchester, Vermont, but it seems to share a lot of traits with Stockbridge. Not near anything, a lack of any employers or colleges of note (except maybe the headquarters of Orvis), yet prosperous and affluent. 98% white, though, so there's hardly even token diversity. According to Wikipedia, just 2.2% of families are under the poverty line.

Brattleboro, Vermont could also qualify, kind of. It's probably more of a mix of Hallmark urbanism and Foxfire urbanism. The subject of Brattleboro is deserving of its own thead, so I'll start one.
 

bureaucrat#3

Member
Messages
72
Points
6
As someone who has only worked and lived in Sunbelt build, build, build communities, I sometimes dream of a job for the last couple years of my working life in a low/slow growth established or built-out community. I realize that there are always issues to consume time. I'm sure any small changes become much more topics of conversation. Plus I wonder how much time is put into telling people "no that's not allowed."

I just catch myself watching the quaint towns of Hallmark movies, Cabot Cove (without the weekly murders) and other sitcoms where the person/cop/doctor leaves the big city to find peace in a small town. I've always assumed these towns don't exist or they have a huge tract subdivision just down the street next to a Wal-mart. I think if I was lucky enough to land one of these jobs I'd worry to much about screwing it up.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
703
Points
30
Back to Hallmark urbanism.

I'd say the closest thing I've seen to Hallmark urbanism in person is Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The village and its surroundings are solidly middle to upper middle class, and just 1.7% of all families are under the poverty line. The built environment is very manicured and in-your-face quaint. The population is 97% white, but there was a long history of abolitionism. The closest major metro area is Albany, about an hour drive away. There's little within commuting distance, except maybe Pittsfield

I didn't take many pictures of Stockbridge when I visited. Norman Rockwell's painting of Main Street actually comes close to reality.

View attachment 49478

View attachment 49479

I really thought "this place violates all the laws of economic geography" when I visited. Maybe everybody in town either owns a quaint gift or jewelery shop, is on the staff at Austen Riggs, teaches at a small Monteorri or Waldorf school, or writes droll fiction pieces for the New Yorker, I dunno. Nearby Great Barrington is also a well-off quaint overload head scratcher.

I haven't been to Manchester, Vermont, but it seems to share a lot of traits with Stockbridge. Not near anything, a lack of any employers or colleges of note (except maybe the headquarters of Orvis), yet prosperous and affluent. 98% white, though, so there's hardly even token diversity. According to Wikipedia, just 2.2% of families are under the poverty line.

Brattleboro, Vermont could also qualify, kind of. It's probably more of a mix of Hallmark urbanism and Foxfire urbanism. The subject of Brattleboro is deserving of its own thead, so I'll start one.
These economies (Manchester/Stockbridge at least) have massive second-homeowner populations and the service economy to go with them.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,808
Points
69
I just catch myself watching the quaint towns of Hallmark movies, Cabot Cove (without the weekly murders) and other sitcoms where the person/cop/doctor leaves the big city to find peace in a small town. I've always assumed these towns don't exist or they have a huge tract subdivision just down the street next to a Wal-mart. I think if I was lucky enough to land one of these jobs I'd worry to much about screwing it up.
I'll add Hammondsport, New York to the "as close to Hallmark urbanism as you'll find in reality" list.

If you remove the "geographically isolated" qualifier, it opens up more places with the look and feel of Hallmark urbanism. Because they're small communities, though, many won't have planning staff. Among these little gems are:
Hallmark urbanism imposters:
  • Lewiston, New York is famous for having a McDonald's in an old Colonial house. it would be a charming little town if it weren't for NYSDOT's street signs and National Grid's overhead utilities. There's also a massive toxic chemical and nuclear waste dump a couple miles away. Really, every place in Niagara County seems like it's a couple miles away from a Superfund site.
  • Wellsboro, Pennsylvania has the geographic isolation, and a nice little downtown with a real independent department store. It's Pennsylvania, though, which means the quaint quickly decends into rugged within a few blocks of downtown.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
703
Points
30
I'll add Hammondsport, New York to the "as close to Hallmark urbanism as you'll find in reality" list.

If you remove the "geographically isolated" qualifier, it opens up more places with the look and feel of Hallmark urbanism. Because they're small communities, though, many won't have planning staff. Among these little gems are:
  • Skaneateles, New York, one of the few places in Central New York where I'll see Bentleys and Rolls Royces on the streets like it's no big deal. It's really as close of a place as I've found to Lake Wobegon.
  • Cazenovia, New York, another quaint CNY village that's popular with upper middle class Boomer daytrippers.
  • East Aurora, New York comes close to being a self-contained complete community.
  • Chagrin Falls, Ohio is Cleveland's Hallmark suburb. It's surrounded by some of the wealthiest communities in the Midwestern US. Like a lot of Northeast Ohio, it can be kind of Karen-y.
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Small towns in Ontario are usually kind of boring, but NotL is an exception. It has an "uncanny valley America" look and feel. Real estate prices, though, are solidly Canadian. A house there will set you back close to a million Loonies.
Hallmark urbanism imposters:
  • Lewiston, New York is famous for having a McDonald's in an old Colonoal house. it would be a charming little town if it weren't for NYSDOT's street signs and National Grid's overhead utilities. There's also a massive toxic chemical and nuclear waste dump a couple miles away.. However, every place in Niagara County seems like it's a couple miles away from a Superfund site.
  • Wellsboro, Pennsylvania has the geographic isolation, and a nice little downtown with a real independent department store, It's Pennsylvania, though, which means the quaint quickly decends into rugged within a few blocks of downtown.
I like Chatham, NY. Stayed there at an AirBnb on a trip to Tanglewood last summer. Amtrak runs through, former industrial town, charming Main Street, enough NYC second-home types (see also Stockbridge) to boost things a bit, but still kind of normal. Big enough to support a bookstore, ungentrified enough to still have a VCR repair place: IMG_7442.jpgchatham main st.JPG
 

jsk1983

Cyburbian
Messages
2,482
Points
24
I'll add Hammondsport, New York to the "as close to Hallmark urbanism as you'll find in reality" list.

If you remove the "geographically isolated" qualifier, it opens up more places with the look and feel of Hallmark urbanism. Because they're small communities, though, many won't have planning staff. Among these little gems are:
Hallmark urbanism imposters:
  • Lewiston, New York is famous for having a McDonald's in an old Colonoal house. it would be a charming little town if it weren't for NYSDOT's street signs and National Grid's overhead utilities. There's also a massive toxic chemical and nuclear waste dump a couple miles away.. However, every place in Niagara County seems like it's a couple miles away from a Superfund site.
  • Wellsboro, Pennsylvania has the geographic isolation, and a nice little downtown with a real independent department store, It's Pennsylvania, though, which means the quaint quickly decends into rugged within a few blocks of downtown.
Apparently the McDonald's hasn't been there since 2004, could picture it from driving through years ago going to Art Park.
 
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