Thursday, June 12, 2008

All Great Cities Must Have...

Someone, I forget exactly who but I am too lazy to look up, even on Google, said every great city has a river that runs through it. Well, maybe that dude was right. I've only lived in three cities (or Metropolitan areas if you look at it that way): Boston, Denver, and Washington, DC. All three have rivers running through them, the Charles, North/South Platte, and Potomac, respectively.

But there has to be more to cities than a river, right? I'm going to start a list of things that I think enhance the quality of cities. Just because.

Things that cities need to have:

- A River: I already talked about that, but walking or running along a river is a must do.

- Cool architecture: Boston has all the historical buildings and Victorian houses, Denver has better architecture than you think, DC iffy but Baltimore has tons of cool looking row houses. I really like Old Town Alexandria, The Fan in Richmond (next time I'm there I have to hang out near the James River) and the old part of Charleston, SC too.

- Cool statues: DC really shines here with all the monuments. I don't think I need to say anything more. Okay, I do. The Red Auerbach statue outside the Navy Memorial is priceless.

- Cool bars: I mean places where I can hang out, have a beer or two without paying ridiculous, near aged wine prices, can actually hear what people are saying, and don't have to wear $200 jackets and pants to fit in. Davis Square, Somerville and Porter Square, Cambridge are good for this, as is Lower Broadway, most of LoDo in Denver (although I avoided the clubs and the idiots that stagger out of them at closing time), and various pockets of Denver. Old Town Alexandria has it here, I can't really comment on Adams Morgan since I never make it up there, Capitol Hill has some decent places. Baltimore has tons of them in the Inner Harbor and a sufficient amount in Mount Vernon. Not to mention Fells Point. Smaller cities often offer great stuff too, and killer microbrews to boot. Case in point: Burlington, Vermont. I swear if I ever move back to New England it will be there.

- Running/biking paths: I like to run and stay fit so these are a must. Even people who think they're training for the Tour de France on the Mount Vernon trail are usually safer than some sidewalks here in DC. I can't say enough good things about running in Alexandria. Denver had more paths than I could ever go to. Boston has some, but the Minuteman trail gets way too crowded.

- A fun sports team to watch: Always a great way to stay occupied if the weather is crap or if you need something to do. I don't need to pimp Boston's teams any more than they're already pimped. As much as I can't stand the Broncos, they have an emotional grip on the rocky Mountain Region, and the Nuggets were fun to watch while I lived there. And the Avalanche will always be a great franchise, Vive Ray Bourque and Joe Sakic! Here in DC it's all about the Caps. And not just Ovechkin either. They're the team to watch in DC. While I don't have a dog in the hunt, DC United usually provides good entertainment value for the dollar at RFK Stadium. I like Nationals Park but they still have a ways to go.

- Coffee places: I like Dunks as much as the next New England born and bred person, but I like the local, independent places as much or more. Help me out here since where I work is usually near Starbucks and Caribou (which is actually pretty good).

- Restaurants: I stay close to Old Town since they're not as pricey as a lot of places in DC. There's something for everyone in the area though. I may start reviewing Fairfax County Restaurants again if food prices slow down a bit.

- Street Carts: Carlos at 16th and K in DC cooks up burritos that are restaurant quality. Best vendor ever is either him or the old sausage carts outside Fenway Park. Baltimore has good stuff near Camden Yards on game days too.

Throw some more stuff out there. What else makes a city cool?


Rollie Fingers said...

If I may pimp Baltimore again...

The Gwynns Falls Trail, Jones Falls Trail and NCR trail up in Baltimore County.

We don't really have a river, though, unless you could the Patapsco or the Jones Falls, which literally runs in a sewer under a freeway.

maryjanejeff said...

I've heard a bit about the Jones Falls Trail, actually. Nothing like taking a spin or a run down a trail to work off some stress. I think the Patapsco would count for Baltimore's river.