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Lifelong Tourists

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
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713
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LIFELONG TOURISTS


America’s tourist destinations: Orlando and New York are the city names that top the list. They could hardly differ more as places to visit—or, for that matter, as places to live. A tourist’s experience in a city is one key to knowing how it feels to live there.

Other city names you will find on the list are San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The last two form a group with Orlando: people don’t really come to these places to see the city as a whole, as much as to see certain discrete destinations that happen to be located in them or nearby. Thus, you come to see Caesar’s Palace and Bellagio in Las Vegas, and Disneyland, the Getty Museum and Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.

People come for the chocolate chips, and mostly they leave the cookie uneaten. One of the reasons is that in these three places, you must have a car to be a tourist, and also to live there. This guarantees that you will ignore the areas between destinations; and it guarantees also that because they are car-based, these areas are ignorable.

To visitors, the attraction in Orlando is not the city, or anything in it, but the city-sized theme parks that lie adjacent: Disney World, Epcot, Universal, etc. These places are boring and passé to anyone who enjoys an actual city, since what they offer (in addition to the fun rides and the staged events) is a kind of edited urban experience (you are, after all, on foot).

Parts left in: walking, crowds, attractions, people from other places. Parts left out: inhabitants, untrammeled free-enterprise, social agitation, spontaneous community celebration, the drama of reality, crime, anything unplanned or unexpected, or genuinely tragic. Utterly banished by management’s diligent watchfulness: the potential to see anything new, original, important or unique (all inherently subversive); anything coming into being; the possibility of witnessing history being made in the raw. There are no whiffs of tear gas on Disney World Main Street; and the next “I Have a Dream” speech will be heard there after its author has been put on a postage stamp.

You pay admission for the edited experience, and the surprises are all predictable.

As for the city of Orlando itself, stripped of theme parks: it has all the world-class draw of Des Moines or Omaha.

* * *

When you come to New York, you’re there to see New York.

In the best cities, the attractions, the destinations, are just the excuse to get you moving; the
in-between is often at least as interesting as the destination. Or to quote pre-cruise-boat Cunard, “Getting there is half the fun.”

You could say that any city that is a good tourist destination is also a good city to live in.

People tell me New York is a great place to visit, but they wouldn’t want to live there.
If they put their theory to the test, they might just discover that it’s a great place to live, but a pretty unforgiving place to visit. Most visitors who don’t know the ropes encounter petty crime, rudeness, scams, dirty bathrooms, a thousand urban inconveniences that every resident knows how to deal with.

After a few weeks of living in Manhattan, you discover that you don’t really have to plan your Saturdays and Sundays; all you have to do is go out the door. Thereafter, the entertainment takes care of itself. On Manhattan’s permissive street grid, you just head in whichever direction seems most interesting that minute. You don’t have to know where you’re going, but if you find yourself outside the Metropolitan or McSorley’s, by all means go on in for a visit. Most New Yorkers who are not anesthetized are lifelong tourists in their own city.

Most run-of-the-mill American places have more in common with Orlando than New York: the attractions they possess are discrete destinations, with not much of interest between. You travel from one to another by car, and there is a parking lot conveniently located at each one. This defines not only the tourist experience but also the reality of everyday life.

Is your city more like New York or Orlando?
 
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Gosh, not what I expected from the title you gave it. I was thinking: Oh, that's me! I am a life long tourist. As a military wife, I have lived all over. I do not travel for vacations, I travel as part of my lifestyle. I stay somewhere for 2 or 3 years and we hit a few of the tourist-y highlights while also enjoying more of a depth of experience than a week-long visit could give. I have never really understood tourism. I have to have a more substantive reason to go somewhere than just to "see" and "sample". San Francisco is the only place I ever went just to see it. It is an enchanting city and I fell in love. I have since been back to take a college class there and for other substantive reasons.

Uh, sorry -- I can't answer the question you actually asked.
 
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I think New Orleans is more like New York than Orlando. Although I think tourism officials would love to see the type of dollars Orlando pulls in come into our city.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
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13,887
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56
I live in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Chicago's near northside. I love the neighborhood as an urban environment, and it defintiely meets the guidlines of being a location that people visit to see the destinations, but also to see the 'place'.

I live two blocks from the Lincoln Park zoo (last free municipal zoo in the US), four blocks from lake Michigan, and four blocks from the Chicago Historical Society.

One can see the great typical tourist destinations (see above) or one can simply walk the streets of the neighborhood and admire the beautiful built environment (wonderful residential and commerical architecture and everything from small worker's cottages to 30 story highrises), and amazingly beautiful parks. The neighborhood itself is the destination.

And it is an easy 2 mile walk to the heart of the Loop.

To conclude, I agree it is important for places to not only be holding pens for destinations, but to be destinations themselves.

Slightly Off-topic:
I've spent alot of time in Manhattan, and its scale of urbanism, in general, is too much for me. I perfer the Chicago scale of urbanism.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,212
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29
ablarc said:
You could say that any city that is a good tourist destination is also a good city to live in.
First, what say you about Branson, Missouri?

Second, the above quote, while a good sound bite, fails because there is an inherent assumption that a city is homogenous - and in fact, that is far from the case. Look around and you will find squalor and crime in just about any city... but you won't find the tourists in those pockets, will you?

Third, your critique also fails to recognize a very important point: While your analysis creates an artificial, nay - snobbish, hierarchy on great tourist destinations, most people probably don't care because they are happy they have the opporunity to visit both kinds of places, and probably, they like them both equally, but for entirely different reasons.

Fourth, have you read Variations on a Theme Park edited by Michael Sorkin?
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
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26
ablarc said:
Is your city more like New York or Orlando?
Neither.

The city where I work is the second smallest city in New York State.

Most people who come here are either:
a) On their way to somewhere else.
b) Lost, or
c) Here to see the Northeast Classic Car Museum.

Regardless of their reasons to be here, most don't stay long.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I agree with Wanigas. I'm from Los Angeles, which is a tourist destination on both levels (not just the 'sights' as you said). I think a lot of people come to Los Angeles to try to soak in the climate and the atmosphere as much as see the sights. When I show people around L.A., they ask to go to some of th sights, but mostly they want to walk the famous boulevards (hollywood, sunset, rodeo), go to the beach or hike in the hills, go to the farmers market, etc. For tourists I think the L.A. lifestyle is as much of a draw as the amusement parks themselves. Even though L.A. is an excellent tourist destination, I don't think it's a good city to live in. Even with small towns (Wanigas's Branson example, or in WA State places like Leavenworth) where the city is the draw, shows how a touristy town isn't necessarily a good place to live.

Edmonton (where I currently live) isn't a tourist destination really. Those that do come probably come for the West Edmonton Mall. Although there are a lot of other sights and urban niches worth exploring, and overall the city has a lot of good points.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
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1,905
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well,, my city, White Plains, is only 15 miles from the border of NYC.... and is just like Orlando ;)

we are the weekend getaway for NYC folk
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
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25
Nearly all tourists go to a city to see the sights. When I went to San Francisco with my family, we spent nearly the entire time downtown, going to Peir 31 (clearly a tourist trap), union square, etc. My sisters and mother only wanted to shop on Market Street (which had basically the same selection of chains as Michigan Ave in Chicago). I had to go off on my own to really see the city.

I like reading travel logs on the internet from people who've been to Chicago, to see what they think, but if the person's not an urbanist, I can basically predict what it's going to say. They'll have gone to the museums, than Hancock tower, the Sears tower, Michigan Ave. (maybe State St.), the lakefront, and if they're feeling adventurous, they might venture all the way up to Lincoln Park to shop on Belmont or go to the zoo.


Mod Note: Ad hominen attack deleted. Please refer to the Cyburbia Forum Rules regarding ad hominen attacks. - PD
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
ablarc said:
The last two form a group with Orlando: people don’t really come to these places to see the city as a whole, as much as to see certain discrete destinations that happen to be located in them or nearby. Thus, you come to see Caesar’s Palace and Bellagio in Las Vegas, and Disneyland, the Getty Museum and Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.

People come for the chocolate chips, and mostly they leave the cookie uneaten.
Is this really true? Even the cities like Ne York are more like Oreos. People lick up the creamy center while leaving the chocolate cookie untouched. How often do the tourists venture beyond Manhattan? To carry the analogy still further, what about chocolate covered Oreos? You go to a city like San Francisco for the city core or for the periphery - places like Napa or Carmel - but once again leave the chocolate cookie uneaten.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
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29
My travel habits are more those of a planning nerd. :)

I'm not usually very interested at all in "the sights," I want to see the everyday stuff, the neighborhoods-especiallyh if it is a city like San Francisco, Chicago, or Los Angeles with neighborhoods with specific "unique" character. Not really into museums very much at all. m
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
It has been my experience, that to truly experience a community at its base, you can do so through its LOCAL watering holes. The problem is the time commitment. The less time in a location, the more "Touristy" type of behavior you will have.

For instance, the local watering hole (Not a TGIF or something like that) will put you in contact with a few interesting characters that will gladly tell you what to see or stay away from (add some good judgement here :) ). Follow this up by doing it.

For long term visits, find the "underbelly" of your target uban area and work up from there. Once you have found the underbelly AND a real local watering hole, you are 80% of the way there to being a real native, and getting the full perspective :)

P.S.
This also works in forign countries also :)

Oh, to be stationed in central Germany for another 3 years without a ball and cha.... OOPS I mean a wife :) !
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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what BKM said. I definitely travel as a planning nerd - my travel partners and i frequently split up because they get tired of "looking at buildings".
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
One of my hobbies is photography of 19th and early 20th century industrial architecture. My family has been frustrated when I drag them through decrepit warehouse districts :)

I want to visit northern France (steel belt) or the Ruhr-in the latter case before the Germans tart it ALL up with "regional ecology park" stuff. :)
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
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23
Fellow travelers with me have been heard to mutter, "A subway is not a tourist attraction, a subway is not a tourist attraction!"
 

H

Cyburbian
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Plannerbabs said:
Fellow travelers with me have been heard to mutter, "A subway is not a tourist attraction, a subway is not a tourist attraction!"
ROTFLMAO, I hear similar statements made to me all the time! :-D

Oh, and DoD I couldnt agree more. You will hear great historical folk lore and stories about a place this way. But it is best to see the sights sober ;)
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
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7
BKM said:
My travel habits are more those of a planning nerd. :)

I'm not usually very interested at all in "the sights," I want to see the everyday stuff, the neighborhoods-especiallyh if it is a city like San Francisco, Chicago, or Los Angeles with neighborhoods with specific "unique" character. Not really into museums very much at all. m

Ooh, me too! it gets me into trouble with travel buddies an awful lot, especially since I am for some reason drawn to historic neighborhoods (often times a bit scruffy) and old industrial areas. Maybe because I was raised in the rust belt?

Where I live now, while certainly NOT a city, but is probably more like the manhattan model - people who live in Maine as lifelong tourists are generally here to see it all. Honestly, the most beautiful places here are the TINY (i.e. pop. 40) fishing villages nestled on rocky coves overlooking craggy islands, or small farming villages backing up to a tree-covered mountain - all miles from a highway. These places are the real maine, the places not highlighted on the Rand McNally, and generally unvisited by most tourists. And most Mainers feel toward tourists the way they do about black flies - they come in swarms and make your life miserable, but only for a few months. During those months, you're best to stay as far away from where they are as possible...
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
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1,264
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22
We don't travel out of state much, but I am always checking out the built environment. I visit areas in town! I don't get to a lot of areas in town very often and sometimes it is 5-10 years before I get back to the same place and it has changed. Then again, the 20 plus cities that comprise the Phoenix area, cover more than 1500 square miles. Hard to visit that too often. [sarcasm]Ah to be sprawled.[/sarcasm]
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,437
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27
Re: Re: Lifelong Tourists

mendelman said:
I live in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Chicago's near northside. I love the neighborhood as an urban environment, and it defintiely meets the guidlines of being a location that people visit to see the destinations, but also to see the 'place'.

I live two blocks from the Lincoln Park zoo (last free municipal zoo in the US), four blocks from lake Michigan, and four blocks from the Chicago Historical Society.
While at the APA Conf., I took a walk from my hotel on Michigan Ave. up to the Chicago Historical Society Never having spent much time in Chicago while I lived in DSM, I was pleasantly suprised on my walk. I loved the neighborhoods in that area and believe it would be a great place to live. Although I probably don't want to know the real estate costs. I guess I had some pre-conceived notions about downtown Chicago before I actually got to see first hand what it was like, at least in some areas.

Zoning Goddess said:
My city IS Orlando.
Hey ZG, my brother lives in Windermere on Keene's Pointe GC.
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
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4,898
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27
Slightly OT

ablarc said:
People tell me New York is a great place to visit, but they wouldn’t want to live there. ...

After a few weeks of living in Manhattan, you discover that you don’t really have to plan your Saturdays and Sundays; all you have to do is go out the door. Thereafter, the entertainment takes care of itself. On Manhattan’s permissive street grid, you just head in whichever direction seems most interesting that minute. You don’t have to know where you’re going, but if you find yourself outside the Metropolitan or McSorley’s, by all means go on in for a visit. Most New Yorkers who are not anesthetized are lifelong tourists in their own city.
This made me laugh. I spent a lot of my late teens & early 20s in NYC and knew it well. But when I actually rented an apartment & lived there one summer, I was constantly broke and found I couldn't afford all those fun things to do.

I think I'm better off visiting for limited periods of time - a lot less expensive that way.
 

Cullen

Member
Messages
33
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2
jordanb said:
Mud Princess -- You know you don't have to live in Manhattan.
Good point. I have been living in or around the ny city area for just about my whole life. Even for the past 5 years, when I have lived in Albany, I have still gotten a chance to go to the city a lot. Many of my friends from the suburbs decided to move to new york. Since Manhattan is so increadibly expensive, few people I know have moved there, and those who did move there left before too long. A lot of my friends who moved to the city ended up living in Brooklyn or Queens, namely Williamsburg and Astoria. These places really are much more affordable, but it is still very expensive in comparison to many and most other regions.
After having spent so much time exploring New York and loving cities because of this, I am still able to be a tourist in my home city. I have been exploring Brooklyn and Queens as I never have before, mostly because I used to just spend time in Manhattan. Even in Manhattan, things change so much and so fast, one could easily go on and on as a lifelong tourist. People spend a lot of time traveling far and wide, and while I certainly love this and it is SO great, I think it is easy to miss many details of the places in ones own backyard and just over the fence. Sometimes finding these places can be just as fun, sometimes it can be even more fun because it is often so unexpected.
 

cnyOntario

Member
Messages
64
Points
4
The city where I work is the second smallest city in New York State.
I have relatives that live in Norwich. Go down there every summer. I honestly don't know how people can live out there in the middle of nowhere.

People think I'm strange but it takes me a day to recover every time I travel down in the Southern Tier. It depresses me for some reason. The four big cities/metros along the Thruway are the only places I could live in New York State.
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
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4,898
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27
jordanb said:
Mud Princess -- You know you don't have to live in Manhattan.
Of course not. Actually I spent a lot of time in the late 1970s in the Bronx. That was NOT a good time for the Bronx, or for NYC in general; remember the newspaper headline, "President to City: Drop Dead" during the city's fiscal crisis?

To me, the history of a place gives it character and makes it a much more interesting destination. I would much rather be in NYC than Orlando. Orlando's attractions are too programmed. When I visit a city, I like to explore its neighborhoods, cultural districts, and architecture. And the restaurants, too, of course.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
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713
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20
Mud Princess,

Disney World's approach route is called Main Street USA, and goes with Caribbean pirates, African waterholes, the Wild West and other exotic and vanishing locales. It is a kind of sanitized version of the Main Streets that have almost entirely disappeared in the U.S. I don't think people appreciate the irony that for many, an "urban" experience is available only in a theme park.

“I got that same feeling walking down Main Street USA,” someone just said to me, having gotten back from a trip to Disney World this holiday, “and the next day at Epcot, it hits you. People DO actually pay $52 to experience urbanity!!! All Epcot is is a collection of urban environs from around the world!”

In the interest of staying in business, I wonder if these theme parks would change their themes if the urban experience were more generally available in this country. After all, they are in the business of providing experiences that are unusual.
 
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