Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Thanksgiving Open Thread: What Are You Thankful For About Your City?

I’m going to be off the rest of the week for the US Thanksgiving holiday. But I’ll leave up this open thread for people to chime in with what they are most thankful for about their city.

I’ll kick it off as usual. I won’t pick just one city, but I’m thankful that across America, no matter how thriving or struggling the city, it always seem there are people passionately making it a better place. From Austin and Chicago to Detroit and Braddock and Buffalo, there’s a passionate generation of urbanist out there fighting the fight for their city. I shudder to think where we’d be without them. This gives me hope that more places that we think that are struggling are going to ultimately make a turnaround.

All the best to you and your family.

PS: I realized late yesterday that all the links to my suburbs series were to my old blog site. Here are the updated links for you that should actually work:

Review: Retrofitting Suburbia
End Property Tax Collection in Arrears

Building Suburbs That Last Series:
#1 – Strategy
#2 – New Urbanism and Parcelization
#3 – The Mother of All Impact Fees
#4 – Supporting Home Based Businesses

Topics: Urban Culture

29 Responses to “Thanksgiving Open Thread: What Are You Thankful For About Your City?”

  1. John says:

    I’m thankful for Metra; a fast, affordable, and reliable way to get to work. I’m also thankful for Lake Michigan, for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and plentiful, affordable drinking water (at least for now).

  2. Ben says:

    I am thankful that my city (Columbus, Ohio) has a relatively strong economy, great neighborhoods, beautiful parks, lots of ongoing downtown investment, and ever expanding bicycle infrastructure.This year especially, I am thankful that the citizens of Columbus passed an income tax increase last year so we don’t face the specter of a privatization debacle that others are (unfortunately) seeing today.

  3. 20 minute commute to a soulless suburban office park on an enormous beltway. Sorry everyone. :-)

  4. Andy says:

    I’m thankful for being able to draw on not one, but TWO totally different but totally awesome cities within a short drive of one another. I live in Ann Arbor, my boyfriend lives just north of Detroit, and I get to enjoy the best of both. I get sick of one, I can always fall back on the other.

  5. Randy V. says:

    I’m thankful that “America’s Most Dangerous City” is St. Louis, because if this is as bad as it gets, America is not in such bad of shape. St. Louis is one of the greatest cities ever built in this country, with a wealth of cultural and historic fabric that most cities would die for. I’m thankful for having such an amazing hometown.

  6. Curt says:

    Im thankful for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. And though Im dismayed at recent GOP comments that they will not authorize a bill to put a referendum on next year’s ballot for a transit tax, it is encouraging to see our local newspaper supporting the plan and publishing nearly daily op-eds that also support the choice by notable local figure heads. Happy Thanksgiving Aaron! Im thankful that you gave a strong effort to kill the parking meter privatization. We were all working hard to prevent it.

  7. Thom says:

    I am thankful that I live in Columbus, Indiana. It is a wonderful city with great parks, architecture and a diversity of culture. I am also thankful that is is located within 5 hours of such great cites as Indy, Louisville, Cincy and Columbus Ohio, St. Louis and Chicago.

    Randy, We make a trek to St. Louis 3 to 5 times a year to go to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and always go to new neighborhoods and restarants. We are familiar with North St Louis and go there almost every visit to see what changes, good or bad have taken place. Yes St. Louis is a great place!

  8. Jeff says:

    I’m thankful that the countryside is close at hand here in Dayton. I’m a big hiking fan and I can be on the trail in woods and prairie in a matter of minutes out of my front door. I love the rural/small town/country village landscape and culture of the “Miami Valley” (the area around Dayton, more or less).

  9. Bruce says:

    I am thankful that I live in Central Indiana that has a low cost of living but at the same time is vibrant in many ways. I am particular thankful I live in Carmel that was once only a suburb of Indy. What was a very traditional burb a decade ago is now a city well on its way to sustainability.

    It is now home of a $200 million Performing Arts Center complex. More roundabouts then any other place in the country. Bikeways and a walkable downtown on the verge of coming into its own.

    But most important, I am thankful we have a Mayor who has had the vision and tenacity to implement these plans in spite of the political opposition that comes with dramatic change.

  10. Alon Levy says:

    I’m thankful that, despite about a hundred years of city leaders’ efforts to the contrary, Manhattan is a walkable place with interesting things on the sidewalks. Being able to walk on a familiar grid outside one’s own neighborhood is underrated; I walk much longer distances now than I did when I lived in Tel Aviv and Singapore.

  11. Sam Feinson says:

    I’m thankful for Seattle’s gorgeous scenery, laid back culture, great coffee and excellent food. I’m thankful that we’ve finally come around on mass transit and started to address gridlock. I’m also thankful that this is such a bike-friendly town.

  12. Pete from Baltimore says:

    I live in Baltimore.So one of the saddest things about my city is how many vacant houses there are [anywhere from 15-30 thousand .Nobody knows for sure] .

    But the good thing about my city that im grateful for is the fact that we have cheap houses within 40 miles of Washington DC. To put it bluntly, if we were miles away from a wealthy area , we would be screwed.

    And since i do interior demolitions of rowhouses so that they can be rehabbed, im not going to run out of houses to work on.
    I am also grateful that Baltimore still has so much good pre -World War2 architecture and housing stock. I love the 100 year old rowhouses!

    I am also grateful that despite the housing bubble, Baltimore always remained a cheap place to buy a house. I bought mine 6 years ago for $45,000.I know that as a homeowner i should want home values to rise.But not only do i have no intention of moving anytime soon[possibly never], i also want other people like myself to have a chance of owning a home.. In too many East Coast cities , its hard, or even impossible, for a construction laborer like myself to be able to buy a house.

    I would finally like to wish MR Renn and the commenters here at this blog ,a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

  13. LH Mad in Indy says:

    I’m thankful that I have enough of an imagination that I can envision Indianapolis Mayor Ballard’s 30lb Thanksgiving turkey standing up on the his festive holiday table, then b@#ch slapping Ballard, before flying away.

  14. Kevin says:

    First off, I am thankful for this forum. I am thankful to live in Los Angeles and be exposed to people from many different cultures and backgrounds finding a way to live together peacefully…for the most part;). I am thankful for the redevelopment happening in urban areas of the Midwest cities i want to see re-emerge. I am thankful for modern technology that allows me to re-connect with my Midwest roots and create new projects that offer me the positive feeling of giving back…stay tuned for the “Naptown Crawl Series” coming to Indy in 2011! Most of all, i’m thankful for all the people out there that love and appreciate cities as much as i do.

  15. Tricia Tice says:

    I’m thankful for our Midwest away from the Midwest. Central Florida is so beautiful this time of year–everything is blooming and the weather is delightful. Our new, old-fashioned downtown is within biking distance. To hear the old timers, it’s far better than it was in the old days. I went with the first graders on a field trip through downtown, visiting two florists, two cake shops, an instrument shop, a pet groomer, a local pizza shop, a hairdresser and a bike shop.

    My commute is only half an hour and on a tolled, limited access highway (Metropolis and not in a bad way) and ends in a revitalizing urban core with a thoroughly walkable environment and a really nice sandwich/soup shop on the first floor. My east-facing window keeps my head in the right place and gives my eyes a rest from the strain of GIS-ing and modeling. Our office group is rapidly integrating people from widely different work streams and setting a new pattern for the entire company (the open-space helps). I still have work to do, but had time to take a short break and see the fall colors in Georgia and visit family.

    I love Thanksgiving.

  16. Random Dude says:

    Im thankful for all of minneapolils’s bike trails. The good food. And all the opportunities that I have to meet amazing people.

    Im also thankful for the struggling but still persistent small town character of my home town, may it never crumble. I know this is a big city blog, but small towns have been hit harder and more negatively by globalization and the recession than the larger ones that have resources, and can attract investments.

  17. Robbie Banks says:

    I’m thankful for the diversity of people and ideas, local leadership, ongoing downtown revitilization efforts, real sense of community and OPPORTUNITIES in Columbus, Ohio.

  18. Aaron says:

    Happy thanksgiving from another Aaron.

    I am thankful that despite the fact that my city (Indianapolis) has many challenges before it, my neighborhood is walkable, affordable, and safe. I live right close to downtown and can take comfort in the fact that I can choose to bike or walk most places.

    I also agree with the comment regarding our esteemed Mayor Ballard. I think the consensus is that he must be a cannibal if he is eating turkey for the upcoming holiday because he is one.


  19. Donna says:

    I am thankful that despite being a very conservative city, Indianapolis *does* have people who agree with me that a turkey deserves more respect than our mayor 😉

    I’m also thankful that Naptown has very unrestricted laws on backyard chicken keeping, and that people in my “village” in the city are enjoying the benefits of it!

  20. Mary T. says:

    I’m thankful for the creative and energetic people who are bringing more and more life and livability to Midtown and Southwest Detroit — where I live and work. It’s more than encouraging to see so many people, especially young ones, investing in businesses, projects, and homes. This is a glimmer of hope for the city and region!

  21. Vanessa F. says:

    Like Pete from Baltimore, I am a Baltimorean and am grateful for the following regarding my native city:

    *Its location: Baltimore is within a 1 to 4 hour train ride to all of the major cities on the east coast.

    *Its Neighborhoods: Neighborhoods here are tight-knit. Also, within the city proper there is much diversity from the well-known row home type of Federal Hill, Fells Point, Canton to to the single-family communities of Original Northwood, Roland Park, & Lauraville.

    I only learned of Urbanophile a few weeks ago and I am grateful for finding it. Happy holidays.

    -Vanessa F.

  22. samizdat says:

    I second Randy V’s thoughts. There are some rough nabes in STL, but the Quinto Press BS is pure marketing junk. Life here in Dutchtown isn’t always ideal, but our (the wife and I) house is looking better and better. Almost finished with the restoration of the front porch, after having stripped all of the old paint. In the process of painting the cypress replacement pieces for the gable ends and the eaves drop. After that comes (crosses fingers $$$) the restoration of the porch roof to clay tile. Then start on the restoration of the original windows: remove, strip, re-glaze, paint, weatherstrip, rehang, done. Then…well, you get the point. Oh, and I have an interview Wednesday with one of the largest rotogravure printing cos. in the world, for a pressman job at their new plant here in STL. Since I have fourteen years at another co. doing the same thing, I think I’ve got a decent chance. Happy Thanksgiving! Gotta go and finish making that from-scratch–including the pumpkin–pie I started last night. Cheers!

  23. I live in Brooklyn and am thankful that I can go virtually anyhwere I want in the city without an automobile, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This holds true even when I about bitch and moan about weekend/night service changes, outagages, and fare increases 😉

  24. Max Besbris says:

    Second above comment by Matt. I live in Manhattan, and I’m thankful that even with the sheer size of NYC, I’m able to get around without ever getting in a car. (Especially compared to Palo Alto, where I am currently Thanksgiving-ing)

  25. Bill LaFayette says:

    I am grateful for the supportive atmosphere in Columbus, OH, that has fostered one of the largest Somali and GLBT populations in the U.S. I am grateful for the thriving, historic central-city neighborhood where my partner and I live, where the neighbors are great, I can walk to the store and take a 10-minute bus ride to work every day.

  26. Steven Vance says:

    While this is not really about my city, Chicago, but about all cities of a similar density, I appreciate that it does not take 25 minutes of driving to get to a store (of any type) or my friend’s house. In 25 minutes, I can ride my bike to 10 full-service grocery stores and 10 friends’ houses. And I can do it safely because the roads are narrow and traffic speeds are low.

    This is in contrast to where I spent Thanksgiving, in Mesa, Arizona. The road that connects my family’s house to the bank I needed to visit is 90 feet wide, having a speed limit of 45 MPH but a design limit of at least 60 MPH.

    (Okay, I liked my answer so much I blogged it, http://www.stevevance.net/planning/)

  27. Chris Barnett says:

    I’m thankful for an under-20-minute commute inside the beltway on city streets at 25-30mph to an office in a wonderful converted 1905 house with hardwood floors, plaster walls, and lots of natural light.

    I’m thankful that I live within blocks of one of Indianapolis’ parks and the connected trail/greenways system.

    And I’m thankful that Indy Food Cooperative is about to pioneer a not-for-profit neighborhood grocery store and food education establishment for urban Indianapolis.

  28. Kevin Whited says:

    I’m thankful for Indianapolis’ ever expanding bicycle infrastructure network & the idea that bicycles can be used as a viable means of transportation within an urban area.

  29. Angela Bowman says:

    I’m grateful for Chicago’s sidewalks, neighborhood shopping districts, and transit system (however flawed) which allow me to live a rich, full life without a car. Also grateful for Chicago’s teeming music scene.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

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Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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