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Old October 23rd, 2008, 10:56 PM   #1
jroc da flame
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Post My Top 10 Most -Important- Cities in America

Here is my top 10 most important cities in America, from the past, future, and present. I thought of this list in terms of what the cities mean to our economy, thier historic importance, and future importance. (Im also including a honorable mention list).

Feel free to comment and opinionize the list.

1) New York City, New York - America's Megacity and Economy Hub. One of the greatest cities on Earth.

2) Chicago - Always will be America's 2nd City to me. Beautiful skyline and midwestern grit.

3) Los Angeles - The West Coast's version of NYC, major port and population center.

4) Philadelphia - Like Chicago, an historic, gritty, big city with major economic and cultural importance. (not to mention one good chessesteak!)

5) Detroit - I know, controversal 5th pick in terms of importance, but in my opinion Detroit is the ultimate story of the American Dream. Take that and the automobile, not to mention the famous Motown Sound and you got one hell of an city.

6) Washington DC - Are nation's capital and political center. What more can you say? Its DC.

7) San Fransisco - West coast economic hub and home to the 2nd highest population density next to NYC.

8) Atlanta - In my opinion, the Capital of the South Region and important economic center.

9) Houston - Science and NASA arent the only things that make Houston important. One of the fastest growing big cities in the country and becoming a megacity fast.

10) Boston/Miami - Could'nt decide which one and both could be on this list so pick 10 is my only tie. Boston has always and will always have profound influence in our country and Miami in some ways is the US's international melting pot capital.

Honorable Mention - Dallas TX, Seattle WA, Phoenix AZ, Cleveland OH, New Orleans LA, St. Louis MO, and Las Vegas NV.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 11:32 PM   #2
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What? No Madison? j/k

This thread should probably be moved to the United States forum.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 04:11 AM   #3
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1) New York
2) Chicago
3) Washington DC
4) San Francisco
5) Los Angeles
6) Boston
7) Philadelphia

That's it.... no other US cities are halfway relevant compared to these for culture, history, architecture, urbanity and old (real) money.

Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston are second tier but way behind these.

Everyone else is 3rd tier and ho-hum.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 04:28 AM   #4
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I had a large paragraph prepared to "discuss" your choice of Detroit in the top ten (even top five?!?). I erased it though - I'd probably be considered a little too harsh. But let me just say, I strongly disagree with Detroit in the listings as a most important city. Likewise with Cleveland in the honorable mention. I guess to each his (or her) own.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 05:55 AM   #5
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I definitely think Detroit belongs in the top 10, although probably not the top 5. Detroit is home to the largest companies in the USA, and though they have fallen on hard times in recent years, they still keep the city highly relevant on the world stage. Open any major magazine and you will see that almost all of them have sales offices in NY, Chicago, LA and....DETROIT. Musically and culturally, Detroit is definitely in the top tier of American cities. Detroit is an original, and a far, far more influential capital of American culture than some cities that have surpassed it in size.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 06:12 AM   #6
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What about Denver, Seattle, San Antonio....???
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Old October 24th, 2008, 08:26 AM   #7
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I find it amazing that people don't think Detroit has contributed a lot to the American lifestyle.

--Detroit is the oldest major American city away from the East Coast. Only a handful of major cities in the U.S. (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Providence) have a longer history than Detroit. In fact, Detroit was founded less than 20 years after Philadelphia.

--Detroit introduced "mass production" to the world, which is probably one of the most important American contributions to history. It's about as revolutionary as the printing press was in the 15th century.

--Through mass production, Detroit single-handedly made the automobile affordable to the common man. America's love affair with the car can be traced solely to Detroit.

--Detroit introduced such novel labor concepts as the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, holiday pay, etc. Henry Ford believed that by having workers work less meant that they had more leisure time to buy the products they made.

--Detroit was the first city to build a mile of concrete-paved road, an expressway, a modern traffic light, painted lanemarkers on roads, etc. Many of the standards for road and freeway construction were introduced in Detroit.

--Since the 1920's Detroit has been at the forefront in many genres of popular music. Detroit helped to introduce three styles of music to the world: Techno, Punk, and the Motown sound. It also introduced several of the biggest artists in music history including Madonna, Eminem, Michael Jackson, Kid Rock, the White Stripes, etc. Detroit is definitely near the top of the list when it comes to music.

--Detroit's industrial might in the 1940's helped the Allies win WWII. Most of the tanks and other land vehicles (as well as many of the bombers) used by the armed forces were built in Detroit factories. Detroit was known as the Arsenal of Democracy.

--The first modern shopping mall was built in suburban Detroit in the 1950's. It was the model used by many shopping centers built across the country.

--For much of the 20th century Detroit was one of the five largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Only New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia were larger than Detroit. (In 1940, Detroit was actually the 4th largest city in the U.S.)

Last edited by hudkina; October 24th, 2008 at 08:32 AM.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #8
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To give you an idea, these were the 15 largest metropolitan areas in 1950:

1. New York - 12.91 million
2. Chicago - 5.50 million
3. Los Angeles - 4.37 million
4. Philadelphia - 3.67 million
5. Detroit - 3.02 million
6. Boston - 2.36 million
7. San Francisco - 2.24 million
8. Pittsburgh - 2.21 million
9. St. Louis - 1.68 million
10. Cleveland - 1.47 million
11. Washington - 1.46 million
12. Baltimore - 1.34 million
13. Minneapolis - 1.12 million
14. Buffalo - 1.09 million
15. Cincinnati - 0.90 million

Compare that to:
Houston - 0.81 million
Atlanta - 0.67 million
Dallas - 0.61 million
Miami - .50 million

Last edited by hudkina; October 24th, 2008 at 09:47 AM.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 12:02 PM   #9
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Sorry, but Detroit didn't have the first mall. The first automobile-oriented mall was Country Club Plaza in KCMO. It opened in 1922.

The first ENCLOSED shopping mall in the world was Southdale Mall, and opened in 1956 in Edina, MN.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minneapolitan View Post
Sorry, but Detroit didn't have the first mall. The first automobile-oriented mall was Country Club Plaza in KCMO. It opened in 1922.

The first ENCLOSED shopping mall in the world was Southdale Mall, and opened in 1956 in Edina, MN.
Take that, Hudkina! Your whole argument has been debunked!

Seriously, though, I don't see how anyone can argue against Detroit's importance. Despite its much-diminished state today, it certainly belongs in the top 5 due to its history.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #11
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What makes a city great is a topic guaranteed to spark heated debate. But everyone has got their own battefield. So, since I'm a graphic designer by trade, I'm used to looking at cities from a design standpoint. Things like the quality of public transit, the number of LEED-registered buildings, international outreach, and the size of the local creative industry are all very important factors to me. So here is what I think the list of the top cities (for design) should look like:

#1: New York


#2: Chicago

#3: San Francisco

#4: Los Angeles

#5: Boston

#6: Portland

#7: Philadelphia

#8: Seattle

#9: Washington, DC

#10: Twin Cities

Last edited by Major Deegan; October 24th, 2008 at 06:16 PM.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 05:31 PM   #12
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What the criteria of "importance"?

I, for one, don't understand what is that important about Philadelphia nationally today, though of course I recognize its historical and cultural significance. Importance to me would imply that it is a node of some essential function of national import. Nationally important cities might include financial, transportation, governmental, cultural, or industry hubs.

A few thoughts on unranked cities of national importance.

Boston - secondary financial center and major intellectual hub

New York - largest financial and cultural center, key articulation point of the US into the world.

Washington - National capital. Enough said

Detroit - Capital of the auto industry whose fate, at least until it completes is restructuring, is clearly affecting the national economy

Chicago - Secondary financial center and largest interior transportation hub

San Francisco - Major cultural and tourism center as well as the center of the technology industry

Los Angeles - Entertainment industry hub, generation point for much of popular culture.

Houston - key node in the US energy sector.

What other cities are of truly national importance in some key respect? Dallas and Atlanta are major transportation hubs. Miami is the gateway to Latin America. But these appear to be more regional functions.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minneapolitan View Post
Sorry, but Detroit didn't have the first mall. The first automobile-oriented mall was Country Club Plaza in KCMO. It opened in 1922.

The first ENCLOSED shopping mall in the world was Southdale Mall, and opened in 1956 in Edina, MN.
Uh Country Club Plaza isn't even remotely a mall, it's an auto-oriented urban neighborhood. Also, Northland Mall predates Southdale mall by nearly two years. Northland Mall opened in Southfield, MI in 1954. So I'm sorry, but yes, Detroit did have the first modern shopping mall.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #14
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I also think that Detroit should be in the top 10, maybe not top 5.

On a side note, techno was not birthed in Detroit, but Germany. A group called "Kraftwerk" ... a group formed in the 1970's.

Detroit was however the birthplace for electronica in the US.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 07:10 PM   #15
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That's why I said "helped to introduce". There are many arguments as to where different styles of music were "born" and wether they aren't just a slight variation of other styles of music. But either way, Detroit was one of the early pioneers of many different styles of music.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 07:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
That's why I said "helped to introduce". There are many arguments as to where different styles of music were "born" and wether they aren't just a slight variation of other styles of music. But either way, Detroit was one of the early pioneers of many different styles of music.
I gotcha.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minneapolitan View Post
The first ENCLOSED shopping mall in the world was Southdale Mall, and opened in 1956 in Edina, MN.
I always thought the first was in Canada, but may be you're right. It would make sense that it happened in a place like Minnesota or Canada due to the climate. Thanks for the info though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
To give you an idea, these were the 15 largest metropolitan areas in 1950:

1. New York - 12.91 million
2. Chicago - 5.50 million
3. Los Angeles - 4.37 million
4. Philadelphia - 3.67 million
5. Detroit - 3.02 million
6. Boston - 2.36 million
7. San Francisco - 2.24 million
8. Pittsburgh - 2.21 million
9. St. Louis - 1.68 million
10. Cleveland - 1.47 million
11. Washington - 1.46 million
12. Baltimore - 1.34 million
13. Minneapolis - 1.12 million
14. Buffalo - 1.09 million
15. Cincinnati - 0.90 million
That's a very interesting list. Minneapolis was bigger than Toronto back then while Buffalo, only a hair smaller.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 01:47 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
I always thought the first was in Canada, but may be you're right. It would make sense that it happened in a place like Minnesota or Canada due to the climate. Thanks for the info though.
You're welcome.

And, Hudkina, I don't buy it. Google "first shopping mall". That mall in MI isn't even on there. Wikipedia says this abotu Southdale: "Southdale Center, commonly known as just Southdale, is a shopping center in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. When it opened in 1956, it was the nation's first fully-enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall, and the first to house rival department stores under one roof. As of 2008, much of the original Southdale structure is still in use, as well as later additions to the building."

It is a well-known fact that the first modern shopping mall is Southdale.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 03:15 AM   #19
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Your mall was the first "fully-enclosed" mall. The first modern suburban shopping mall was Northland Center which opened in Southfield, MI directly across the street from Detroit. The difference is that Northland Center wasn't "fully-enclosed" as there were many outdoor courtyards.

Here are some images:
image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr


One of the reasons why the developers in Minnesota decided to "fully-enclose" their mall:
image hosted on flickr


Also, you really shouldn't trust Wikipedia for everything. While often times it is right, there are far too many times that the information is either wrong or incomplete. And though I've said that, here is the Wikipedia page for Northland Center.

Last edited by hudkina; October 25th, 2008 at 03:24 AM.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 03:32 AM   #20
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Many large US cities have their "firsts" and other unique attributes.
Detroit should never be mentioned with first-tier US cities.
Nice joke though. Everything 2nd-tier is pale in comparison.

There are only 7 first-tier US cities.

1) New York
2) Chicago
3) Washington DC
4) San Francisco
5) Los Angeles
6) Boston
7) Philadelphia
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