Re: Familiarity

1

Boston does that to me as well. I've never been sure whether it's the city itself -- which technically speaking was Cambridge, but I knew the city well enough -- or the age range during which I was there. (Also I'm from Massachusetts originally, and so continued to spend time there after college.)

I've always thought the extensive public transportation system in greater Boston, which fosters foot traffic, contributes to a feeling of comfort and familiarity. I know that when I've brought people -- Baltimoreans, say -- for whom decent public transportation is a bit of a marvel, to Boston, they find it novel to range about so fully. Wait, we're parking way outside the city, taking the T in, and walking to the Museum of Fine Arts? And then we're taking a short train hop and walking to the North End to find an Italian restaurant? Oh.

Walkability really helps.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
2

Boston is the only major American city I've never been to, unless California has more than three major cities or Phoenix has started putting on airs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
3

I have some of the same feeling about Boston (counterbalanced by a sense that it's overcrowded and unpleasant), and I think parsimon gets it exactly right: it's surprisingly small, and public transportation makes it easily explorable. When I first got there, I would ride the T and just walk.

only major American city I've never been to

The obvious one for me is Philly. And there are probably major cities in the South; who knows, burn em down.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
4

GO FAHCKIN SAWX


Posted by: OPINIONATED MASSHOLE | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:05 PM
horizontal rule
5

For some reason, the last time I was in Philly, it was impossible to eat dinner without being served a variety of small plates instead of one big plate of stuff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:06 PM
horizontal rule
6

Were you ordering off the kids' menu?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
7

Since there are Boston meet-ups all the time, you have every occasion to make a visit, Moby. It's worth it. It's really a nice city. This is not Boston bragging or Red Sox mania: it's just a really available place, or at least I've always registered it as such.

In full fairness, that may be because most of the places white people would want to go are pretty white. The most pronounced impression I had when I first moved to Baltimore -- aside from how damned hot it is -- was its racial mix.

This site tells me that Baltimore is 64% black; if you click over to the right on the Boston figures: 24%. There's a little bit of fussing to be done, if you wanted to, over those figures: the official Boston city line is pretty small, and greater Boston perhaps shows a greater African American population. Still, Boston is pretty white, and probably feels more comfortable to white people.

That said: when more people share public transportation, more people actually see each other face to face in all their differences, and it promotes tolerance and a lower likelihood of being afraid of one another.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
8

Sigh. The italics in the first paragraph up there should have been cut off after "available".


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
9

a sense that it's overcrowded and unpleasant

Jesus Christ, you really were born for the suburbs.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
10

The suburbs of Boston are only unpleasant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
11

No, I think the suburbs are crowded and unpleasant, too.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
12

||

Interesting piece by Charlie Pierce on the way in which Supreme Court opinion -- specifically in the case of Clarence Thomas -- is understanding the Establishment clause, and the nature of federalism. The general concept has to do with whether the Constitution is an agreement among the citizens of the country or between the 50 states understood as independent republics.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:53 PM
horizontal rule
13

11: how far outside of the city are you talking about, ogged? I'm not a fan of Westin, but it isn't crowded.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
14

My impression is that when you've spent time in the wider reaches of the US nation, you find the east coast really close, crowded and ... smelly, stinky. Was my impression only after returning to this section of the continent after a six-week tour of the rest of it.

It's an understandable response.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
15

||

My crazy uncle died on Saturday. Not sure how I feel, exactly. Vaguely topical. His kids would like to have him buried in MA, and I believe that those were his wishes. His wife does not seem to want that. It's a very strange situation.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
16

When we had a chance to move to Boston a few years back, we chose not to -- in large measure because we found it overcrowded, unbelievably expensive, and also because my father-in-law lives in Lincoln, and my wife doesn't want to be too close, geographically, to him. But of course we're complete hayseeds, so it's totally unsurprising that the big city felt overwhelming to us. And yet, when I was in NYC a ten days ago, I had an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and thought that it would be a great place to live, assuming we had all the money in the world.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
17

15: Sorry to hear about your uncle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:15 PM
horizontal rule
18

16: It's not a good city for limping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
19

Oh, I was just responding to Josh about suburbs in general, not Boston suburbs in particular. In fact, for an exurban/rural feel, without getting too far from the city, the outlying Boston suburbs are pretty nice.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
20

I think of the suburb to the immediate west of the one where I grew up and the suburb that I have been to that's in the same general area as the one ogged grew up in as nearly interchageable in a lot of ways, so I admit to being a bit puzzled.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
21

You'd think I would have read comment 19 given that it was posted nearly an hour ago.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
22

Did the crowds get in your way?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
23

So, Jeopardy audition. I hadn't realized, this is a no-information step. We took a paper test (pro tip: guessing a Kardashian sister for the question that I could just barely identify as current gossip related did not work), and then an unscored simulation of 5-10 minutes of game play and the interviewy bit. I won't know anything until sometime in the next 18 month they either call or don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
24

So it's basically like applying for an academic job.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
25

24: No, LB actually has a shot of getting on the show.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 3:53 PM
horizontal rule
26

It's a visiting position. Even these days academics have a shot at those.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:04 PM
horizontal rule
27

23: Was Maggie there? She's the best.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
28

But is it a puppy or a wolf cub or a playtpus or an ocelot?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
29

She was! She was great -- very amusing. I disclosed you on my form where they asked for people you knew who had been on the show.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
30

What is a semi-aquatic mammal?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
31

only major American city I've never been to

Seattle.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:46 PM
horizontal rule
32

Toronto.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:53 PM
horizontal rule
33

only major American city I've never been to
Huh.
Of the top 20, I've only been to like 6.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:56 PM
horizontal rule
34

I'm not sure what counts as "major", but I think there are a lot of major American cities I haven't been to: San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, El Paso, Portland, Las Vegas, Tucson....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:56 PM
horizontal rule
35

Actually, I have a long list, including Atlanta, New Orleans, Louisville, Memphis.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
36

3, 31: based on the various rankings here mine would either be Portland or a city in Texas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
37

Miami, New Orleans, Detroit....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:00 PM
horizontal rule
38

or a city in Texas.

It seems like Dallas is by a lot of measures probably the most important US city I haven't been to, but I kind of feel like "I've been to Houston and Austin; am I really supposed to spend more time exploring Texas?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
39

the suburb to the immediate west

Needham for the win!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
40

Probably the right way to get a ranking is just to ask a ton of people. Anybody set up on mechanical turk? We could have a canonical listing to work from in an hour or so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
41

Based on MSAs, which seems like the right measurement, it looks like the biggest US city I've never been to is St Louis (been to the airport, but that doesn't count). Then Charlotte then Cincinatti.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:08 PM
horizontal rule
42

which seems like the right measurement

It totes does not. For one thing, the rankings in 36 are far more sophisticated. For another thing, there are some unimportant-ass conurbations that have, for various reasons, a lot of people commuting around and through them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
43

The only major American cities outside the Northeast that I've been to are Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Kansas City. And I'm stretching 'been to' a bit on those last two since it involved two half days each while in the area. If airports count I could add a bunch more. It's rather pathetic actually. (Bad American)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:12 PM
horizontal rule
44

That list in 36 seems awesome if what you care about is how important a city is for global finance, which seems like a gigantic who gives a fuck.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:13 PM
horizontal rule
45

MSAs seem awesome if you care a lot about Tampa, which nobody anywhere does.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
46

OK also Portland. I wasn't sure if it was major.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
47

"Portland, Las Vegas, Denver, St. Louis: eh. They're no Tampa!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
48

MSAs put the Inland Empire ahead of Seattle.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
49

36's link is interesting. Looks like Atlanta for me. Since I don't have any real desire to go there, it will probably remain on my missing list for a while.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:16 PM
horizontal rule
50

MSAs seem awesome if you care a lot about Tampa, which nobody anywhere does.

Careful, Xenu might hear you.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
51

I've been basically nowhere, outside the coasts. Chicago, Akron, Phoenix, Tucson, that's it.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
52

48: look, if you ask a hundred people in Europe to name ten major American cities, at least a few dozen of them are going to mention Riverside.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
53

The Armenians will all mention Fresno and Detroit.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:20 PM
horizontal rule
54

Many Europeans are pretty familiar with Florida, so a survey of 1000 Euros asked to quickly name the first 20 American cities that come to their minds might come up with Orlando.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:24 PM
horizontal rule
55

That's fine. When I'm asked to name 20 European musical acts, Zamphir always comes up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:29 PM
horizontal rule
56

So, a major city is defined as "a place an asshole like Tweety wants to visit."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
57

I'm going to the Tampa Bay MSA in less than a week, in point of fact. Want to meet up?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
58

Tampa is obviously something made up to use to threaten misbehaving children with. That it has a wikipedia page is testament to how hard it is to fool a modern kid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
59

My parents live in the greater Tampa area: it's not as bad as a lot of places they might have ended up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
60

57: Flying to TPA in a week and a half! Stupid snowbird family. Dad, I know it's nice for you to get out of New Jersey once in a while, but I live in Los Angeles.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:57 PM
horizontal rule
61

36: have not been to Atlanta or Dallas, save the airports, and only marginally to Houston (a night in the suburbs on a road trip). Unlikely to remedy any of those very soon.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 5:59 PM
horizontal rule
62

...scrolling down to the list of 25, also missing Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and only marginal on Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:01 PM
horizontal rule
63

America's big cities can hold their own against Europe's. Where we suck is in *small* cities. Pick a random town of 100,000 people in France or Germany and you've got a nice weekend-trip location with a city center, church, two art museums, local history museum, busy riverside park, Roman ruins, and a cable car to the scenic overlook. Same size town in the US is generally not a place a European tourist would choose over the equivalently-located highway rest stop.


Posted by: Scomber Mix | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:11 PM
horizontal rule
64

Not counting airports, I'm missing more than half of the top 25. The most glaring is Chicago, for which I don't really have a good excuse.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
65

Small German cities are often nice to visit for a day or two but IME you really don't want to live in them.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
66

Which list are y'all using?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
67

I have a feeling whatever list, my 2 is going to be wrong. I've not been to Miami or Portland or Austin or Canton (unless Akron is close enough).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
68

I'm using this because I mistake Wikipedia for fact.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:29 PM
horizontal rule
69

67: I think all of the lists except MSA-by-population rank Boston above Miami. The others you mention are all below those two on all the lists, I think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:30 PM
horizontal rule
70

Oh wait, the MSA list in 68 has Boston above Miami. I guess I was looking at a different wikipedia MSA List.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:31 PM
horizontal rule
71

Anyhow it pretty much is always Dallas for me, I think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
72

Growing up outside of DC, I was raised to feel a deep revulsion toward Dallas, and have never been there.

|| Hey Moby, dalraiata.... check out what I did with my kid's Minecraft server. |>


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
73

How do you get the water to stack?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
74

Your gotta liberate yourself from the RLofGPM, man.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
75

Ok, of the top 25 I'm missing Philly, Pittsburgh and San Diego in the (cultural) North, and Dallas, Miami, and Houston in the South.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
76

Growing up outside of DC

Why DC in particular? Don't all right-thinking people loathe Dallas? Did they steal your sports team? Or was this a hangover from the Kennedy assassination?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 6:54 PM
horizontal rule
77

Looking good!

Is that a mausoleum to the north (err, up)? And I like the Pac-Mac ghost (Bub & Bob?) guy. Glad to see you kept the little subdevelopment we made, and that tower I started that I need to go back to. I was going for something Gothic (stone tower on a bleak precipice), but when I asked your son what I should do he seemed to think an office building was the best idea. *shrug*

It's cool that you have that hooked up to what looks like MCExplorer. What a great use of the Maps API.

Did I mention that I played in the Minecraft tournament at PAXEast? It was, uh, pretty embarrassing since I think everyone else was a quarter of my age. Of course, I had a computer close to the crowd, so everybody's parents could see me. I studiously avoided eye contact.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:01 PM
horizontal rule
78

How do you get the water to stack?

I suspect its a water source that starts at the top of a hill, and flows down. Then you get rid of the hill.

Why DC in particular?

The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry goes deep. It represents the only two football games I actually give a shit about all year.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
79

76: The DC team and the Cowboys are in the same league/conference/whatever. Ditto with the Eagles. That always struck me as odd that Dallas was put with those eastern teams, but it was probably the only hole in the league when they were an expansion team and after the rivalries started they didn't want to break it up.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
80

Did they steal your sports team?

Although, come to thing of it, yes they did. The Texas Rangers used to be the Washington Senators.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
81

Mmm, sweet pwnage, how I've missed thee.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
82

I think we did the "biggest city you haven't been to" thing quite recently, actually. For me it's Detroit if airports count, Atlanta if they don't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
83

So really, I have Texas to thank for my Orioles fandom. Those heartless bastards.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
84

The only cities in the top 10 globally that I've been to are New York and Delhi. (top 20, throw in LA and London.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
85

London isn't a top ten global city? Do they drop in the rankings because the blond, shaggy mayor guy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
86

I used this, sorted by metropolitan area. The top 10 has a bunch of cities in Asia, and a few in Latin America, that benefited from being in the high-population-growth part of the demographic shift more recently. London is probably still in the top five for gross city product, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
87

Gross city product: Brookings and PwC have them at 5th, McKinsey at 4th. These clearly cannot be trusted as their numbers are all over the place; also, Brookings has Seoul above London and PwC has Chicago, which both strike me as unlikely.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
88

It predates the divisions: GPM didn't want a southern team to cut into his RL. So he actively obstructed expansion, and only relented when Dallas was able to hold his fight song hostage.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
89

I'm surprised that LA is bigger than London.

What surprises me most about the top 20 world cities as listed in 86 is how many of them I have zero interest in visiting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
90

Which I guess reflects poorly on me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
91

Like a bathroom mirror covered with flicked-out bits of toothpaste and dental plaque.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 7:50 PM
horizontal rule
92

Of Southern cities, I've been only to Nashville and Atlanta. Miami airport. I've been in Virginia, but only just--Arlington. I've been in most cities in the Northern half of the country, with some exceptions: no Denver, no Kansas City, no Providence. In CA, SF but not LA. Not Baltimore. Not Louisville. Honolulu only for the Airport. No Nevada, Colorado, ND or RI. No Md or Del.

Above the 40th parallel, chances are I've been there, below, that I haven't.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
93

I've been to all the states except Oklahoma and Alabama.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
94

88: that's an amazing story. It all comes back to Marshall, doesn't it? Also tremendous evidence against leaving power in the hands of a few mercurial plutocrats.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
95

OK also Portland. I wasn't sure if it was major.

Outside of the New York Times, no one thinks Portland is major. Inside of the New York Times, it's too something to something.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 9:22 PM
horizontal rule
96

Minneapolis except once as a kid, and a hotel near the airport last year. San Diego only passed through for lunch. Seattle, nope never. According to 36 I am just so well travelled and cosmopolitan, aren't i.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 9:48 PM
horizontal rule
97

I took a semester off in college and lived in Seattle. It was a couple years after "grunge" had peaked, and I felt suited to declines.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 10:52 PM
horizontal rule
98

I suck at this game. I think I've been to more countries than I have states.

The list in 86 is bullshit; Guangzhou isn't ranked on met area, and it has a suburb the size of NYC for Christ's sake.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
99

I like the chart in 36 that gives Honolulu a category all to itself at the bottom of the list of attractive targets for terrorism. Makes sense. It would be a massive PITA to get your weapons/explosives/nasty people here, and then you'd probably just end up blowing up a bunch of Japanese anyway.

I'll be back in Boston at the end of the month for the first time in about ten years. Looking forward to it very much, partly because of Boston but mostly because it will be good to see my son for the first time since Christmas and get him back home for a while.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 05-11-14 11:16 PM
horizontal rule
100

The Armenians will all mention Fresno and Detroit Glendale.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:10 AM
horizontal rule
101

Armenia is only very marginally European anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 1:21 AM
horizontal rule
102

Pick a random town of 100,000 people in France or Germany and you've got a nice weekend-trip location with a city center, church, two art museums, local history museum, busy riverside park, Roman ruins, and a cable car to the scenic overlook.

I think most American cities of 100,000 people have most of those things, actually (not so much with Roman ruins and cable cars, obviously, and probably fewer museums), though they might not meet European standards in most cases.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 1:30 AM
horizontal rule
103

The art is probably less likely to be shittacular in Europe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 4:06 AM
horizontal rule
104

I've only been to Boston and DC in the US. Heading to SF in July. I can't say either Boston or DC leapt out at me as particularly interesting cities, by my standards, but they were short visits and I'm sure I missed lots of good stuff. Grid system street layouts, and architecture that is 19th or 20th century, doesn't usually an aesthetically interesting physical environment. Even if it has, say, great galleries and museums, or excellent food.

I'm also on record as not liking Paris, either. For much of the same reasons. Architecturally, not really that interesting, plus expensive, and the galleries have loads to see in them, but are, generally speaking, a shitty experience because ... people.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 4:45 AM
horizontal rule
105

...doesn't usually make for an aesthetically interesting ...

I mean.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 4:47 AM
horizontal rule
106

104: Unfortunately, your choices for US architecture are pretty limited. When I moved to DC, everyone told me how it was designed to resemble Paris (grids, relatively low buildings, wide avenues). I'm afraid I don't see the resemblance, but maybe you are picking up on a similarity I'm not. I like both, but for different reasons.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:13 AM
horizontal rule
107

Our robber barons put the art in the same museum as the dinosaurs. This is so convenient for when you want to go to an art museum and not see the art.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:16 AM
horizontal rule
108

104: D.C. is stupid hot in the summer. Maybe that's why you can't see the resemblance. Most buildings look better on overcast days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:21 AM
horizontal rule
109

104: if you spent more time here I think you'd find that any rumors Boston was laid out on a grid to have been very much exaggerated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:23 AM
horizontal rule
110

"to"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:24 AM
horizontal rule
111

If you want to see a nice grid, you should try Lincoln.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:25 AM
horizontal rule
112

And go soon, before it gets stupid hot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:28 AM
horizontal rule
113

It's much easier to see the can't-get-there-from-here in Boston when driving. It's less obvious taking transit and walking.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:31 AM
horizontal rule
114

112: Ready for summer, are you?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:32 AM
horizontal rule
115

I'm hoping for a nice, cool summer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:34 AM
horizontal rule
116

The worst thing about DC's grid is the street naming system, as anyone who's been to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE can tell you.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:43 AM
horizontal rule
117

Boston: not a grid.

Ditto Paris.

For completeness.

(I would love to make things like that for a living. Fucking math.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:48 AM
horizontal rule
118

Philly is a grid? I wouldn't have guessed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:51 AM
horizontal rule
119

107: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is the best museum of any kind I've ever been to, and I avoided going for a long time because I thought it was going to be full of art.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
120

What else is in there?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:58 AM
horizontal rule
121

A helicopter, for one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
122

102: I dunno, looking at Wikipedia's listing, many western cities in the 100,000 range are pretty interesting -- eastern and midwestern are uniformly dull. Partly that's just the mountains.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
123

There's nothing lonelier than a helicopter for one.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:01 AM
horizontal rule
124

121: Since I can't fly it, I'd need at least a helicopter for two.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:01 AM
horizontal rule
125

D'uh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
126

DC, based on first impressions, is like Albert Speer's Trumpton. Everything just that bit smaller than I'd expect.

re: 109 and 117

These things are relative. Compared to, say, medieval cities like Oxford, or Edinburgh, or Prague, it's pretty damn grid-like. It's quite similar to Glasgow, actually. Bits that are quite grid-like, bits that aren't grid-like at all. A lot of the architecture late 18th through to late 19th century.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
127

120: I think it would be more accurately described as the Metropolitan Museum of Antiquities.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
128

I wouldn't have guessed.

If you look at the graphic, you can see in the center of the "rose" that there's definitely a non-griddy part, and I wouldn't be surprised if that part was older/more central, so you might not often get out of it if you only visit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
129

127: If it's old art, it's still art.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
130

126.1 is well put - it reminded me of Moscow (wide avenues, neoclassical stuff, lots of flags and monuments) but the buildings did seem a bit smaller than one would expect. They're certainly lower than you expect, even by London standards.

Compared to, say, medieval cities like Oxford, or Edinburgh, or Prague, it's pretty damn grid-like.

Oxford and Prague are at least topologically gridlike. Edinburgh can't even be deformed into a grid (George IV Bridge, Cowgate etc).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
131

121:? It is possible that there's a helicopter someplace I'm not recalling -- it's a big museum. But I'm pretty sure you're thinking of MOMA, which definitely has a helicopter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
132

128: That's probably it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
133

So, Mpls is a grid, or several grids, but then things get all wiggly around the river and Minnehaha Creek and the lakes. I guess I kinda figured almost everywhere in the US was like that, since just about every significant city has a river, and most cities platted between 1840ish and 1950ish are on pretty strict grids. Is this not the case?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
134

Dang industrial revolution making everything all same-y.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
135

They forgot to build Lincoln where there was a river.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
136

117.3: Ah, looking at the graphic, I see that Pittsburgh is hee-wacky.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:10 AM
horizontal rule
137

131: either that or I regularly hallucinate helicopters. But, okay, maybe that.

Hello, I am provincial rube! Share my gruel!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:10 AM
horizontal rule
138

134 to 126.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
139

I've been to Lincoln, and all I came away with was:
1. Neat state capitol building.
2. Crappy student retail district.
3. At least the film society there shows some cool art movies occasionally.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
140

Anyhow it is true that Boston is locally grid-like in most spots. It's just that the individual grids were independently planned and had to account for things like hills and marshes that have now been replaced with their own, independent grids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:13 AM
horizontal rule
141

I kind of like hoping that there's a big enough area of the Met that I'm unfamiliar with to hide a helicopter in. There could be all sorts of neat stuff.

That was the best place to get indoors on a winter afternoon when I was a teenager. I spent a lot of time sitting by the Temple of Dendur. A more attentive person would have come out of those afternoons with a broad education in art history, but I didn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:14 AM
horizontal rule
142

The best part is the how they hired Freud to make the capitol as phallic as could be.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:14 AM
horizontal rule
143

142 to 139.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
144

140: Not only are cows mediocre surveyors, but they don't work well in collaboration with each other.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:17 AM
horizontal rule
145

re: 140

Locally grid-like is basically grid-like, from an aesthetic/experiential point of view. It feels griddy when walking about.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:17 AM
horizontal rule
146

re: 134

Except for all those places in Europe, where it didn't. It just seems [at 3rd hand, anyway] like there was a certain planning ideal that was adopted in the US that wasn't in Europe, even though lots of European cities feature much of the same basic layout, and buildings of the same architectural style.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:19 AM
horizontal rule
147

141 I kind of like hoping that there's a big enough area of the Met that I'm unfamiliar with to hide a helicopter in.

It seems plausible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:23 AM
horizontal rule
148

I think I had been there at least 10 times before I stumbled up on the Temple of Dendur. Like, wait, they have a whole building just sitting here inside their building?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
149

I think I had been there at least 10 times before I stumbled up on the Temple of Dendur.

It's difficult to find. You have to get the Crystal of True Sight from the old hermit on level 4, and then get it blessed by the High Priest in exchange for the Robe of Sanctity that you picked up in the secret room on the first level.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
150

And then if you want to get out, you need the Blue Phial of Selsun from the Green Wall.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
151

That reminds me of the movie Evolution, which apparently nobody saw. I thought it was pretty good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
152

I saw it! It was mixed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
153

149: Don't forget to write "Elbereth" in the dust at the door, or it'll never open. This is a necessity for Ascending.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
154

This is funny because I was planning to go to the Met today before something came up I need to take care of.
The Arms and Armor galleries is (are?) one of my favorite places anywhere.

http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/arms-and-armor

And I'm eager to see the newly refurbished Islamic galleries. They were spectacular before they closed for renovation in the early 00's and I hear they've done a wonderful job.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
155

OSTMWHYB


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:53 AM
horizontal rule
156

130 DC is low by law; something about not overshadowing the Washington Monument. I think Matt Yglesias writes a column about it every time he's reminded of it. He wants more high-rises.

People who think DC is hot in the summer have never been to Houston in August.

Boston is definitely dirtier than some cities that it is sometimes compared to. (San Francisco comes to mind, although some parts of SF will out-dirty anything.) On the other hand, you can't beat the Arnold Arboretum on a nice day, which yesterday was; really the nicest day so far this year.

I've been to five of the World 20. The only top ten US city I haven't been to is Miami. (I have been to T-SP though!) No Seattle, Portland, or Mpls or KC or St. Louis. (Airports don't count, right?)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
157

O Scanning Tunnelling Microscope, where have you been?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
158

154: when "something comes up" that Barry needs to "take care of", he naturally heads straight for the Met's Arms and Armor galleries.

-- Looks just like a normal halberd, doesn't it? But watch this...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
159

Inside of the New York Times, it's too something to something.

Gimmick infringement! See you at Commentmania, Jesus! Get ready for Something in a Something!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
160

I'm trying to think if there are any major cities outside Europe that meet Ttam's criteria. Cairo, for sure, and I guess some others in the Levant and North Africa. Otherwise ... Quito maybe? The super touristy part of Quebec City? Parts of Old Delhi?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
161

Oaxaca I guess.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:23 AM
horizontal rule
162

When I try to think of the names of non-Western cities, I have to picture maps from various games of Civ.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
163

I was looking at Salvador, Bahia recently on Google Maps and I was surprised by how not griddy it was at all. That probably applies a lot to the first few generations of European settlement in the New World, which I'll arbitrarily define as those predating Boston. Bridgetown, Barbados was a little griddy but not much; Bermuda and St. John's, N&L are probably similar.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
164

156.3: I'm surprised that you think Boston is dirtier than SF; maybe I haven't traveled widely enough in both but SF seemed so much dirtier, even in relatively upmarket parts so long as they were well-traveled.

Obviously, neither approach the dirtiness of third world poverty.

162: This is why I still think, at least on an intuitive level, that Orleans is the second biggest city in France.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
165

The law of the Indies definitely did some weird things with Latin American town planning, but I believe it required grids from at least the 17th century on. It's why much of LA is at an odd angle; it required that the streets be at about a 45 degree angle from true north-south so that houses would have equal sunlight on each side during the day.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
166

146.1: they were laid out much earlier. For all that the (tiny) core of Boston is old (and largely ungridded -- it follows mostly no-longer existing hillsides) the bulk of the city was developed in the 19th century, as largish planned additions (like the Back Bay). So it makes perfect sense that they'd look Haussmann-ish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:49 AM
horizontal rule
167

When I moved to DC, everyone told me how it was designed to resemble Paris (grids, relatively low buildings, wide avenues). I'm afraid I don't see the resemblance, but maybe you are picking up on a similarity I'm not.

You and Madame DeGaulle.

Anyway, Washington couldn't possibly have been designed to resemble Paris, because Paris didn't look like Paris until the Second Empire.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
168

re: 166

The US is fairly unique as a major country where it only got urbanised at or around the time of the Industrial Revolution. I'd guess, with a few exceptions, that almost all major Asian cities are much older, so I'm not just thinking of old Europe.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
169

I like DC's unique combo of extraordinarily half-assed attempt to resemble a European capital, mid-century technocratic boringness, and decrepit urban wasteland, but Paris it is not.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
170

Every time I'm near the Mall and trying to find a place to eat, I can't figure out anything better than the cafeteria in the Air and Space Museum. I'm not sure if I'm failing or D.C. is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
171

I don't think 168 is right at all, at least for any major East Asian city I can think of. Sure, many are very old and have been cities for thousands of years, but given the vagaries of development your experience of walking around one (if you can, and you probably can't) is going to be mostly 19th and 20th century structures and grids, with occasional weird pockets of older stuff. Maybe Kyoto or old Dehli (I've never been to either). But I do think that what you're talking about is largely limited to Western Europe and the area around the Mediterranean.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
172

The US is fairly unique as a major country where it only got urbanised at or around the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Well, most or all of the Americas, right? The architectural treasures of Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Porto Alegre, etc. are almost all from 1850-1910 or so.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
173

I'm not sure if I'm failing or D.C. is.

Isn't there a ubiquitous kabob chain in DC called "Moby Dick?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
174

Also almost all major countries only got urbanized around the industrial revolution; I think you mean that the US has a larger number of cities than Europe founded after 1750, which is of course true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
175

171: Beijing is a grid and it's been a grid for centuries... the Imperial Chinese just liked things to be square.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
176

170: the cafeteria in the National Museum of the American Indian is awesome, for next time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
177

The worst thing about DC's grid is the street naming system

Blaspheme. The quadrant naming system in genius.

If you are going to bitch about the DC grid, the correct target is all those avenues that go off at weird diagonals, cause trouble at intersections, and result in the creation of tiny, triangular-shaped blocks.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
178

170 -- The food at the History museum was much better that A&S, at least when we took kids to the Mall regularly. Not as sunny, though.

I get the Paris/DC thing; it's really just about height and street width.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
179

I'd guess, with a few exceptions, that almost all major Asian cities are much older

A surprising number of major Asian cities were basically invented by the imperial powers. Kolkata and Chennai were trivial until the HEIC decided to use them as bases. Hong Kong and Singapore are obvious, but Karachi only became a major port because of partition (that is, it was fairly significant, but not to compete with Mumbai.) New Delhi was designed by Lutyens. And that's just the Brits, I don't know how much the French fucked around with the importance of cities in S.E.Asia, or the Dutch in Indonesia, but I'd expect to a fair extent.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
180

176: Yes. Haven't been myself, but it gets rave reviews from The Missus.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
181

176, 178: I should try to go to a different museum. Still, you'd think they could bastardize our national heritage enough to put a Five Guy's there or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
182

158 I'll take the 15th century Yasumitsu wakizashi, the brace of late 17th century snaphaunce pistols and the phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range yataghan from the court of Suleiman the Magnificent.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
183

181 -- At History, they were actually trying to do something foodways related; some big donor has probably shut that down by now, though. The food at the Native museum is nicely different.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
184

The underground waterfall at the National Gallery cafeteria is kind of neat.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
185

The quadrant naming system in genius.

Sure, once you learn it, but if you don't know that there are up to four different Letter St & Number St intersections it's mighty confusing.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
186

182

Crossing the beams of the Boston and DC discussions, the Worcester Art Museum took over the armor collection of the Higgins Armory Museum when it closed, and they've put up some great armor exhibits, which they will rotate.

(Worcester is a hike from Boston but contains a few gems like that.)

176

Will try that! I try to stay away from A&S during tourist season anyway, but this is another reason.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
187

I just found a mayonnaise packet that was old enough that the mayo had become the consistency of dough. I didn't open it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
188

Wikipedia says that L'Enfant's plan was redesigned in 1901 by the McMillan commission. And sure, it could be much better than it is, but DC is sooooooo much better than it used to be. No comparison. It used to be that Capitol Hill was filled with crack dens and Ballston (not technically in DC) was filled with car dealerships and empty lots. Of course it's not all progress. The punks who used to hang out in Georgetown disappeared a long time ago. But in general, the city is definitely improving. The newcomers have no idea.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
189

|| How long til this fever runs its course? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
190

Just out of curiosity, I decided to look at this list of the world's 100 largest cities to see how many fit Ttam's criteria of (a) largely not on grid (b) lots of pre-19th Century architecture (by the way, I generally agree that this makes for an attractive city -- it's interesting that a lot of really fancy suburbs are deliberately designed to be non-grids). Anyhow, I count the following, in reverse population order, but this is assuming that many of the Chinese cities are mostly gridded and modern because I ran out of time to look them up. Northern Brazil and the Middle East are really doing a lot of work here, being run by the Portuguese seems to help, as does being an older city in India.

Recife
Rome
Salvador de Bahia
Barcelona
Surat (India)
Pune
Lahore
London (#34 worldwide)
Istanbul (#21 worldwide)
Cairo (#11 worldwide)
Delhi (#4 worldwide)

Possibly controversial exclusions:

Milan
Baghdad (I think it was so modernized to be no longer ancient seeming, admittedly this is mostly from war photos)
Ahmedabad
Rio de Janeiro (19th C architecture)
Paris and Boston (not on grids, preemptively excluded, lots of 19th C architecture)
A bunch of Chinese cities I couldn't be bothered to look up.

So, 10/100, and 2 out of the top 20.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
191

I guess Barcelona is really mostly 19th Century architecture too, of course, but it's sure an attractive version of that.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
192

America's big cities can hold their own against Europe's. Where we suck is in *small* cities.

/sighs mournfully


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
193

It's not that it has to have lots of pre-19th c architecture. It's more that a variety is nice. I like modern architecture, often. But that bland same-y 19th c municipal uniformity is just boring. Wide streets, all the blocks a similar size, rehashed neo-classical etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:08 PM
horizontal rule
194

Damn it, that complexifies my 100 world cities attractiveness analysis!! Keep the parameters strict!

I will say that among big US cities Boston and DC are probably the most uniformly same-y 19th century. Chicago and NY have a grid pattern of course but (especially Chicago) have so much incredible 20th C architecture that it's far from uniform 19th C.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
195

Yeah, so I've never been to either, but they look interesting in photos, at least.

That said, a bit of medieval is nice, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:15 PM
horizontal rule
196

194.2: Like beautiful Soldier Field? Or the Trump Tower? There is definitely good stuff, but those make it hard for me to take the city seriously architecturewise.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:20 PM
horizontal rule
197

Well, there's some fake medieval stuff.

For example, in Los Angeles, there's this tasteful piece of architecture which incidentally was the home of a grade school friend of mine.* Europe's castles may be less tacky but I'm pretty sure you can't swim in the moat of Warwick Castle for a 2nd grade pool party in February.

*who these days I believe earns most of his income renting this place out for porn shoots.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:21 PM
horizontal rule
198

When I think Chicago architecture, I think Louis Sullivan and early skyscrapers generally. 20th C, but early.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
199

Or, I guess, very late 19th.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
200

I didn't know about that place, Halford. That's awesome. Man, the sky's the limit if you aren't burdened by good taste.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
201

193.last doesn't describe it here! DC I think of as having lots of unfortunate mid-century edifices among lots of unfortunate neo-classical edifices, and very wide streets. I do like the wide streets to look at. Boston definitely lacks for interesting 20th C architecture (and has mostly crappy high-rises).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:25 PM
horizontal rule
202

Honestly, that castle is relatively tasteful, compared to this one. Is there any European city with a $6 million pirate-themed castle/tract home in a low income suburb with a designated "pirate pool"? I think not.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
203

I need the indoor chicken coop explained to me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
204

When I think Chicago architecture, I think Louis Sullivan and early skyscrapers generally. 20th C, but early

I've been very into Sullivan lately, and the life of the photographer Richard Nickel, whose struggle to save Sullivan's buildings, or at least the ornament in them, ended in 1972 when the Stock Exchange building collapsed on him. His body wasn't found for 28 days.

In 1950 there were about 15-20 Sullivan buildings in the loop. Now there are 3. Holabird & Roche, and Burnham & Root, his near equals at the time of the creation of the Chicago skyscraper, have fared a little better.

I've spent my lunch hours the last few weeks walking to and around all of the survivors.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
205

I like that the room with the indoor chicken coop goes full-bore country kitch. How else could the chickens feel at home?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
206

the cafeteria in the National Museum of the American Indian is awesome, for next time.

Seconded. It's way better than you'd ever expect.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
207

4--I forgot the Auditorium Theater!


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
208

190: Istanbul totally depends on where you are. Sultanahmet? Sure. Beyoğlu (and particularly İstiklâl Caddesi)? Not so much.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
209

I've been very into Sullivan lately, and the life of the photographer Richard Nickel, whose struggle to save Sullivan's buildings, or at least the ornament in them, ended in 1972 when the Stock Exchange building collapsed on him. His body wasn't found for 28 days.

I've always held it against Ira Glass that he doesn't think this is a compelling story. I gather that he defends himself by clarifying that it's not a good radio story, but I don't buy that excuse. 20 years of TAL, and he doesn't think they've ever done a story that would seem to require visuals?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
210

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BneAuW3IYAAnhBS.jpg

DC 1890 from newly opened WashMon


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
211

Rich Texans have a distinctive horrifically ugly interior decorating style, with lots of stucco, maybe some pillars, lots of arched doorways and domed ceilings with dome-trim, lots of wrought iron and faux-rust, etc. I found out on Saturday that the style is called Texas Tuscan and I couldn't be more pleased by that phrase.

(Google images for that phrase look a little more run-of-the-mill and less distinctive, but the houses I've been in are distinctly interchangeably identical.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 3:54 PM
horizontal rule
212

Some rich Texans build castles. A friend got married in this one. It was an unusual wedding.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 4:08 PM
horizontal rule
213

That is something else.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:08 PM
horizontal rule
214

Southern California has pyramids!


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:25 PM
horizontal rule
215

Also, African cities have some pretty awesome futuristic buildings.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:36 PM
horizontal rule
216

That link in 215 is amazingly awesome.

The thing in 214 is a classic bit of California desert weirditude.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
217

Weird Kentuckians, too.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
218

There's a mansion up the road from us -- not as garish as those Texas and California examples -- but in your face enough to be known locally as "Versailles" -- owner runs a health insurance company. No good pix on the internet . . .

|| Hey, they've put out a fairly detailed recounting of our local shooting. This guy's going to have a tough go convincing jurors that he was actually afraid . . . |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
219

206: thirded, as I can attest from a midday meetup with CharleyCarp and PGD sometime around the last collapse of the U.S. economy, IIRC.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:14 PM
horizontal rule
220

The megachurch in 215 is/was well-known. IIRC there was some sort of demand from Rome that some critical dimension be less than St. Peter's.

What's craziest about it is that it's impossible to convey its size in photos because it's just an enlarged version of a humanely-sized building, and you can't quite look at those columns and entablatures and understand how big they actually are. It reminds me of the idea a friend of mine had to build a room that would be proportioned to his adult body as his childhood room was to his childhood self - doorknobs 6' off the ground, windowsills at 4', etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
221

Florida knows how to compete with SoCal.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
222

217: I've driven by that Kentucky castle. It's a pretty sad building, as if someone decided to plop down a castle in the middle of a horse field but didn't really put their heart into it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
223

Second 222. Nia is mad I won't rent it for her for her 8th birthday, but it's creepy anyway. There's a closer castle I've never gone to that at least seems to make the effort.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
224

What's craziest about it is that it's impossible to convey its size in photos because it's just an enlarged version of a humanely-sized building, and you can't quite look at those columns and entablatures and understand how big they actually are. It reminds me of the idea a friend of mine had to build a room that would be proportioned to his adult body as his childhood room was to his childhood self - doorknobs 6' off the ground, windowsills at 4', etc.

Doesn't that have many precedents? I'm thinking of Louis XIV's hunting lodge at Marly, which Rasmussen describes as not very notable when you see the drawings, but the scale is colossal. Versailles and the Invalides have some of the same quality. Charley's neighbors have put their finger on it.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 7:16 PM
horizontal rule
225

Under the rubric of of fundamental perception altering information, how much is one justified in altering (okay, honestly, downgrading) one's estimation of others parenting on being told their prepubescent daughter has a modeling gig with usaian apparel? Does it matter that they are foreigners & therefore might be able to semiplausibly claim lack of knowledge of dreadful co policies/practices?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
226

Quite a few European cities seem to have an old town/new town divide, with grids in the new town. Or if they grew under Renaissance/Enlightenment style rational planning, then there may be an ordered diagonal/roundabout design with some gridlike regularity to it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
227

Barcelona seemed pretty gridded outside of the old city center.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
228

San Francisco is of course absurdly gridded, relative to the contours of the land.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
229

Tying threads together*, even Carcassonne has a bit of grid outside the medieval city.

*not really


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-12-14 9:15 PM
horizontal rule
230

Quite a few European cities seem to have an old town/new town divide, with grids in the new town. Or if they grew under Renaissance/Enlightenment style rational planning, then there may be an ordered diagonal/roundabout design with some gridlike regularity to it.

Yeah, I think the distinction ttaM is talking about arises mostly because although European cities were subject to the same planning fads as American ones over the centuries, which affected new development in similar ways, they also had these old medieval cities that continued to exist side-by-side with the new parts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 12:29 AM
horizontal rule
231

Right, but depending on how big the city was during medieval or early modern times, and then how the city grew or didn't later on, the non-gridded part may only be a small part of the city and may not be "representative" of the city as a whole.

I've only been to Barcelona a couple of times for a few days each time but I wouldn't characterize it as a city that wasn't pretty grid-like overall in terms of where you might go as a visitor, at least if you're looking for architecture stuff. I may have spent more time in the old city but that didn't dominate my impression of it. Whereas I know there are newer parts of Florence but don't know how gridded they may be because I never spent much time in them despite having spent much more time overall there than in Barcelona, which in the medieval areas seemed pretty meandering.

But I don't find the fact of a grid to make much difference to my aesthetic experience of cities, possibly because US cities are so thoroughly gridded you need to make distinctions on other criteria.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 1:04 AM
horizontal rule
232

Sentence construction failure: I meant to refer to Florence as seeming mostly meandering, but various edits switched clauses around.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 1:07 AM
horizontal rule
233

231: All good points. This whole discussion is kind of weird for me because I'm so used to the US convention of gridded layout being closely associated with large, dense cities (and small towns, but we're not really talking about those here) in contrast to meandering suburban development. Boston and Lower Manhattan are exceptions, of course, predating as they do the Griddening of America under the influence of Philadelphia and Savannah.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 1:09 AM
horizontal rule
234

Possibly erroneously, some of the densely packed small towns in hilly areas in the US, especially mining or mill towns in the east, make me think of European towns with possibly similar economies I've gone by on the train in places like Belgium. I have no idea if they're actually similar since I haven't spent much time at all in places like those. Spread out small towns of one or two story homes and businesses seem pretty distinctly North American.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 1:32 AM
horizontal rule
235

Edinburgh, quite a well known aerial photo from 1920:

http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/artists-a-z/B/15583/artist_name/Alfred%20G%20Buckham/record_id/2996


[Funny, looking through the other photos from the same guy, how they reflect the pictorialist aesthetic, even though they are aerial shots:

http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/artists-a-z/B/15583/artist_name/Alfred%20G%20Buckham/record_id/18564

]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:10 AM
horizontal rule
236

There's a solidly gridded bit of Barcelona called Eixample (extension), which fills in between the old city and the former exurbs which are now part of it. It's one of the less tedious gridded districts to my knowledge because although the street plans are strictly rectangular (it's bisected by a major road called, imaginatively, Diagonal), the late nineteenth century Catalan fixation with architectural oddity crops up unexpectedly here and there in it.

The rest of the city basically follows the organic growth lines of the old town and its surrounding villages.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:33 AM
horizontal rule
237

I actually lived in this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder%27s_Building

built by a guy who made a fortune in quack remedies! by an architect he took on a tour of the Loire Valley and told "Build me one like that, but twice as big!" standing in front of Chambord! but if you go into the quadrangles, you'll find out that he also wanted a bit of Wharton College, so our building looks like Chambord on steroids and made of bricks, with Wharton's library surgically grafted into the quad! insulated with straw dipped in paraffin wax, so the building is the third biggest fire hazard in south-eastern England!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:38 AM
horizontal rule
238

236: look up the horrific Macia Plan for what the madman Le Corbusier wanted to do to the city. Street after street of identical concrete tower blocks across the entire city. No shops at street level - not even any pavements. Fortunately the Civil War broke out and stopped him.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:39 AM
horizontal rule
239

insulated with straw dipped in paraffin wax, so the building is the third biggest fire hazard in south-eastern England!

This reminds me of the Roald Dahl bit about Gloster Gladiators: "They have taut canvas wings, covered with magnificently inflammable dope, and underneath there are hundreds of small thin sticks, the kind you put under the logs for kindling, only these are drier and thinner. If a clever man said, 'I am going to build a big thing that will burn better and quicker than anything else in the world,' and if he applied himself diligently to his task, he would probably finish up by building something very like a Gladiator."

Heartfelt, because Dahl himself had crashed and burned in a Gladiator...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:45 AM
horizontal rule
240

re: 237

Heh, I used to drive past that almost daily, last summer, when I was taking the baby to Virginia Water for a walk/sleep. It's quite reminiscent of Keble College, too.


http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/27/d3/17/keble-college.jpg


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:45 AM
horizontal rule
241

237. I love the comment in the link: Today it is the dominant building on the campus.

Who'd a thunk it?

240 C'est magnifique, main n'est-ce-pas la gare!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 2:59 AM
horizontal rule
242

"Opinions differ on the merits of the Victorians, but it is pretty generally agreed that very few of them could be trusted within reach of a trowel and a pile of bricks" - PGW.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 3:09 AM
horizontal rule
243

Quite a few European cities seem to have an old town/new town divide, with grids in the new town.

Dresden is funny in that the Neustadt is the older part, what with the Altstadt having been bombed to bits. (Not counting the reconstructed historical buildings along the river, of course.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 3:31 AM
horizontal rule
244

Prague's New Town is 14th century in origin [although most of it is newer, now, obviously].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 3:53 AM
horizontal rule
245

"New Town" in Europe is always a bit relative, c.f. Edinburgh, where I haven't noticed much of a grid in the New Town (18th century), although there are some interesting layouts here and there.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:14 AM
horizontal rule
246

Yeah, New College, Oxford is from 1379.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:26 AM
horizontal rule
247

Here's an aerial photo showing the weird rotunda: http://iwia.org/2006/FoundersAerialWeb.jpg

Actually I'm wrong about Wharton; it's copied from a New England women's college, but I forget which one. Royal Holloway also nicked quite a bit of their charter for our constitution.

It was a horrible building to live in; freezing in winter, broiling in summer, as spartan as a spartan thing, a couple of crappers per landing like a prison. (Actually, there's another hall of residence on the campus that was supposedly built to the plans of a Swedish jail, and that's far more habitable even if it does stink.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
248

In Morocco Fes Jadid "New Fez" founded outside the original walls of the old city dates back to the mid-13th century.

And there is the colonial-era French built modern Ville Nouvelle adjacent to the old (and "new") city.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:31 AM
horizontal rule
249

235.1 is a great picture. I hadn't seen it before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:31 AM
horizontal rule
250

But the worst thing was that everyone with any power was paranoid about fire, so there were really quite strict rules about how much electricity you could have in your room. There was a maximum draw in watts as a condition of the tenancy. I have no idea how they cope with it now every student comes loaded with electronics.

And the place was full of very sensitive detectors.

So there were fire alarms all the time, sometimes two or three in a night, and a thousand or so students would bail out into the car park to wait for the fire brigade to search the place. The firemen were very keen not to be the gang who lost a grade one listed national monument, especially as Windsor Castle burned down on their watch and twice would have looked like carelessness. And of course the constant call-outs to investigate steam from a shower or burnt toast or cigarette smoke (it was always one of those options) must have been pretty tiresome, so I guess they took their time.

This was especially amusing if you were in someone else's room, and even more so if you were in their bed. Invariably someone would be dressed in a duvet, and just as invariably, it would rain.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:43 AM
horizontal rule
251

Grade 1 Listed National Ruin is nothing to sneeze at.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:51 AM
horizontal rule
252

Well, the college hierarchy probably wouldn't have cried salt tears over the massive insurance payout and the end of the huge costs of maintaining the bugger. And we'd probably have thought Founder's Ruin was even more awesome.

But the firemen had a rather different perspective. I'm not kidding about Windsor Castle burning down on their watch, you know, although at least the fire chief who was on holiday was from the Berkshire brigade not Surrey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Windsor_Castle_fire


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
253

The firemen were very keen not to be the gang who lost a grade one listed national monument, especially as Windsor Castle burned down on their watch and twice would have looked like carelessness.

In 1991, no castles burned to the ground. In 1992, one castle burned to the ground. In 1993, no castles burned to the ground. In 1994, no castles burned to the ground. I mean, I could go on.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
254

Grade 1 Listed National Ruin is nothing to sneeze at.

I think that was WH Auden's official title.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
255

It would take more than two fires to get statistical significance. They should relax.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
256

Speaking of castles, apparently Bran Castle in Transylvania is for sale.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
257

I think that was WH Auden's official title.

As opposed to Quentin Crisp, who became one of the Stately Homos of England.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
258

I'm living in Istanbul right now and let it be known that the amount of pre-19th-C architecture is almost negligible. Aside from the Ottoman center, which preserves only the big public buildings of the last 1500 years, most of the "old" buildings you'll see (in Beyoglu, parts of the historical peninsula, and the Bosphorus shores) are nineteenth-century stone or brick or concrete three-story apartments, not unlike the row houses of the 19th-C US and Britain, but with distinctive balconies. They are beautiful and evoke a deep past but in fact are no older than Chicago. There is also opulent Baroque-orientalist fantasy, and that is great too.

The other ninety percent of the city is pure concrete, from the fifties and later. Hundreds of square miles of it, and no grids anywhere to be seen.


Posted by: Angela Lurkel | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
259

"New Town" in Europe is always a bit relative

I should have been more explicit about deliberately not capitalizing new town. I was referring to 19th and 20th century newer development, not necessarily places called "New" where the name stuck. But obviously European cities have many older sections, and much less overall order than North American cities. I was just pointing to the range of variation that struck me when crossing the borders from/to pre-19th century city sections.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-13-14 3:28 PM
horizontal rule
260

236. The gridded bit of Barcelona. I came across the pic elsewhere. A bit late, but it's a nice image.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
261

That's beautiful. Thanks for passing it along!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
262

That is a really nice photo. Makes me wish I could take vacation time right now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:35 PM
horizontal rule