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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Actually, should we care when other forumers seek to directly compare L.A. with other cities in the U.S. and world in terms of urbanism and skyscrapers and density?

No matter how much more that any cities has, we should not let that dampen our view of L.A.

Sure, L.A. doesn't have nearly as many skyscrapers as Houston or Chicago or NYC. But those cities never could be L.A. Those cities pretty much more or less have one set of architectural styles and color schemes throughout the whole city. So you could be in one end of the city and then another end of the city and couldn't tell the difference. In L.A., that's not the case due to the diverse styles of housing and "look" within the city. Those three cities don't have the climate of L.A., and especially not the mountains and overall scenery of L.A. that comes to prominance between November and May. They don't have the beach culture nor the style culture of West L.A. They don't have the car mod. scenes of L.A. They don't have the hollywood scene nor the creative and public arts scene.

Any other city can be better than L.A. in one or a few things, but most likely they'd be lacking in equally as much or more 2than L.A.

And if you compare a world city with L.A.? Hong Kong has better scenery than L.A., and many more skyscrapers, but has bad weather and it actually smells due to all the pollution in the river. Tokyo? Maybe, but as in the movie "Lost in Translation", and as in any other foreign city, you'd likely feel alienated due to all the people of a different culture and that don't speak english. Tokyo's also expensive if you want an apartment that has space.

The point is that L.A. is unique and thus no other city in the world can fully replace L.A. for what it is and what it offers, and just because L.A. doesn't rank with other cities in terms of urbanism, density, and skyscrapers doesn't mean that L.A.'s not as desirable of a place.
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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LA does have as many, maybe not as many as New York, but just as many as other cities. You have to remember the other areas with tall buildings: Westwood, Hollywood, Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, El Segundo, Long Beach, etc.
 

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LAL | LAD | LAK
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When it comes to skyscrapers, density, and overall urbanity, I'd say that Los Angeles is leagues above Houston. Houston may have more skyscrapers located within its city center, but beyond Downtown there really isn't too much urbanity, if at all. We should also note that Los Angeles is more than twice as dense as Houston with streets that follow a grid pattern. Los Angeles, by sun belt standards, is extremely urban and walkable. Don't believe me? I encourage all of you to take a look at aerial views of Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta. Then compare that with Los Angeles.

http://local.live.com/
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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^^Atlanta and Dallas are a mess. Houston is not as bad, but the best by far is Phoenix. It's nowhere as easy as Los Angeles though.
 

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city driver
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Sometimes we call for the end of "city vs. city" stuff... but I actually think it's fun. It's like sports teams.

That said, my real reason for defending LA vehemently to everyone I know is that SMART people don't understand it and that SMART people think it's a cultural wasteland and SMART people say they would never be caught dead here and whatever.

I could care less if idiots didn't want to move here. But I have tons of extremely gifted, ivy-league-educated, potentially-influential friends who dismiss LA. And that means NYC gets all the smart kids out of college. NYC gets all the interesting writers, fashion-designers, activists, etc. Luckily the artists are being forced here and are starting to realize this is in fact not a cultural wasteland, and the music scene is definitely picking up here for the same reason.

But right now LA only gets the "starving artist" smart people. Think about how much our city could improve if we pulled in the non-starving bright and talented people (and I don't think hollywood qualifies).

Think about it... New York gets the cream of the crop from around the country. If we could get them to move here, we could really go to work on the potential that LA has.

I'm not saying we need rich privelaged educated young white kids to make our city great.. but I do think it could make things easier.

I think the number one reason educated people don't move here is because they think it is far-gone. Like Vegas. No hope for turning it around. They think everyone lives in single-family houses and works for the movies. They don't realize that it's a place with incredible opportunity to make amazing changes in the world.

Also, I'm definitely not promoting widespread gentrification. In fact, I think if we got smart activist individuals to get involved in this city, we could figure out ways to make the first inclusive and diverse revitalized urban environment in the western world. I think because LA's core (I'm not talking just downtown) hasn't been gentrified, we have a chance to do it right. We have a chance to avoid a SF, Chicago, Paris, Portland (the whitest city in America.. yet so many smart people think it's sooo cool and progressive), Boston, NYC, london, etc. etc. etc.

We have to remember that LA is the largest and most diverse of the few remaining industrial immigrant metropolises in the US (I really can only think of Houston..). It is not a financial center like all the "ooohh.. so urban!" cities people compare LA with. It is pre-gentrification and still has industry. Our warehouse districts can't be filled in with high-rise high-dollar condos because.... people are still working in our warehouses!! We can't change our port into a tourist trap like in SF because... our port is still hugely productive!!!

We are still a dynamic city, an undecided city, and I'm afraid that smart people are no longer attracted to that..

As ElSongs put it on his blog, "It's not what you know, or even who you know, but who knows what you know"
And I know that LA has huge potential to be a model for the changing world we live in, not a "trust fund kid" like european-modeled cities..
Everywhere else can feel fine knowing what is right. Here, it is crucial that we do what is right.
 

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Sure, L.A. doesn't have nearly as many skyscrapers as Houston or Chicago or NYC. But those cities never could be L.A. Those cities pretty much more or less have one set of architectural styles and color schemes throughout the whole city.
That is completely false for Chicago and New York. If anything Chicago and New York have the greatest stock of architectural style and diversity in this country. That can be taken as purely subjective, but when you've been building them for over 100 years is it really? There are numerous architectural styles in the cities of New York and Chicago that date back to the 19th century. For New York City ours date back to the 18th century even. Throughout the entire city of New York City you will see anything from the classic Brooklyn Brownstone to English Tudors packed together. What exactly did you mean by "cities like New York and Chicago" have only one set of architectural style?
For example: In New York city we have Lord Norman Fosters hexagonal braced Hearst Tower built ontop of the old art Deco base of the original Hearst. Several blocks away there are neo classical residentials of the Upper West Side.. like the San Remo, the tudor style Dakota building ( where John Lennon lived), and the new ultra modern Aerial East and West.
South of that there are the Pomo buildings like Carnegie hall tower, City Spire...
Then there is the aluminum topped art deco Chrysler which sits quite close to Tudor City. There is also neo gothic Woolworth next to the art deco barclay vessey. There's an area of the city known for it's superb styling of cast iron ( Soho) east of that is the tenement capital: Lower East Side. Art deco basically sits next to Pomo, which sits next to beaux arts, which sits next to modern, which sits next to neo classic. That's what it is like when you've been packing them together for so long, so forgive me for thinking that statement was ludicrous. The same goes for Chicago. I am not trying to say Los Angeles can't compete, that is not my arguement here. Mine is against our cities having one (1) style.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That is completely false for Chicago and New York. If anything Chicago and New York have the greatest stock of architectural style and diversity in this country. That can be taken as purely subjective, but when you've been building them for over 100 years is it really? There are numerous architectural styles in the cities of New York and Chicago that date back to the 19th century. For New York City ours date back to the 18th century even. Throughout the entire city of New York City you will see anything from the classic Brooklyn Brownstone to English Tudors packed together. What exactly did you mean by "cities like New York and Chicago" have only one set of architectural style?
I meant a set of architectural styles that are predominant throughout the city (and in many cases, the set looks relatively similar to each other). I doubt that in many NYC neighborhoods, you'd see many different style or diverse looking buildings within a single block (and compare that to L.A.'s beach neighborhoods, where you'd even see a lot of standout houses with unique architecture.) Even in San Francisco, where some do have multiple architectural styles within a block, you'd see the same repetitious buildings over and over as you go through the neighborhoods.

L.A.'s architecture can range from Pre-Columbian to French Chateau to many different types of modern houses to Spanish Mission Revival to Georgian.

I'm talking about diversity like this:











 

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LAL | LAD | LAK
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^^Atlanta and Dallas are a mess. Houston is not as bad, but the best by far is Phoenix. It's nowhere as easy as Los Angeles though.
Did you notice how basically everything surrounding the Downtowns of those cities are single family homes? Trek a couple of miles away from Downtown Atlanta, and it's like a forest with curvy roads, single family homes spread apart from one another, and in a lot of cases no sidewalks!

I will say though that there are a few areas of Houston that are quite dense with the houses and apartment buildings packed close together. But Los Angeles has nothing as bad as what Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta have. I just don't get why people lump Los Angeles with those cities.

Take a look at the Great Wilshire Walk:

 

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In Time
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Just some random comparisons examples of NYC architecture that are not just skyscrapers...


I meant a set of architectural styles that are predominant throughout the city (and in many cases, the set looks relatively similar to each other). I doubt that in many NYC neighborhoods, you'd see many different style or diverse looking buildings within a single block (and compare that to L.A.'s beach neighborhoods, where you'd even see a lot of standout houses with unique architecture.) Even in San Francisco, where some do have multiple architectural styles within a block, you'd see the same repetitious buildings over and over as you go through the neighborhoods.

L.A.'s architecture can range from Pre-Columbian to French Chateau to many different types of modern houses to Spanish Mission Revival to Georgian.

I'm talking about diversity like this:


Bronx:



++++++++++++++++



Queens:



++++++++++++++++



Queens:



++++++++++++++++



Manhattan (we are building this thing...)



++++++++++++++++



Manhattan:



++++++++++++++++



Queens:

 

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It's Official....

Los Angeles Ranks Best City IMO Award!



LA is a magical place. It's a place people are drawn into. It's not a place where people PLAN to live it's a place where people are attracted to. It doesn't follow logic, it just is.
 

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The Place
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I think this article from the NY Sun kind of highlights some of the points Dave made about the architectural differences between LA and other cities.

A Tale of Two Urban Plans
Architecture


By JAMES GARDNER
January 16, 2007


Frank Gehry's the Sails in Chelsea (right, photo credit: Konrad Fiedler), and his Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles (left, photo credit: Allan Barnes). In Los Angeles, architects and buildings have the necessary room to dream, James Gardner writes.

There has always been robust competition between New York and Los Angeles. Or more precisely, between New Yorkers and ex-New Yorkers, since many Angelenos originated in the city which they now reject with all the fervor of a convert to a new creed. That being so, one might expect that, in regard to these two latitudinal antipodes of America, there would be energetic competition in the matter of architecture as well. And yet that is not the case. Among those New Yorkers who care about things architectural, the serious competition has been coming out of Chicago, rather than points farther west, for the past century or so. And though Los Angeles does possess architecture — it is, after all, a city — you don't have the impression that the majority of its citizens care greatly about their buildings, and surely these do not enter materially into any assessment of the Angelenos' municipal identity. Indeed, the argument could be made that venturing out West in the first place was in large measure a rejection of architecture, especially those big agglomerations of it that usually define a city.

In part this has to do with the respective origins of each city. New York, a few centuries older than Los Angeles, represents the organic evolution of a trading post that grew and grew until eventually it encompassed the whole of Manhattan and beyond. And though its progress above 14th Street was influenced by the central planning of a grid, promulgated back in 1811, there has always been something higgledy-piggledy about its development, with the all-powerful real estate market dictating its progress.

Los Angeles, by contrast, was scarcely on the map before 1900. What put it there was the movie business, and what caused it to expand exponentially was the automobile — as opposed to New York, whose growth was determined, after the Civil War, by elevated trains and then the subway.

But the nature of Los Angeles's expansion was entirely different from New York's. The conceptual premise of Los Angeles was the Garden City so dear to turnof-the-century urbanists like Ebenezer Howard and his disciple Lewis Mumford. In what would one day become better known as suburbia, the Garden City aspired to redeploy the urban population into a mass of green plots, each with enough lawn in front of it to give home-owners the feeling that they were in nature. That was in part the ideal of Robert Moses as well. This long-time commissioner of New York City's parks elevated the automobile to an almost sacramental status, conveying people from their green patches in suburbia to their office towers in Midtown. The result was, in varying degrees, a disaster.

Nevertheless, the consequence of this two-track evolution was that the defining architectural fact of New York was the building, in a multiplicity of vertical forms, while that of Los Angeles was the private home, a largely horizontal affair. And a further consequence was that, whereas New York, and especially Manhattan, is perhaps the most pedestrian friendly urban center in the world, few cities are as antagonistic to the pedestrian as Los Angeles. Locomotion there is so much the province of the automobile that mass transit scarcely exists.

The architectural style of Los Angeles is largely determined by such circumstances. Lateral expansion on the mainland, as opposed to vertical expansion on an island, results in an air of greater freedom from regulations and from citizen groups. Whereas everything in New York is regulated to the hilt, in ways that are often fatal to imaginative architecture, in Los Angeles structures and architects have room to breathe and dream. It is no accident that Frank Gehry — the most famous of Los Angeles's architects — could build his warped titanium Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. This enormity, which served as the template for his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, would have been unimaginable in New York, where Mr. Gehry's one completed structure to date, the Sails, on 18th Street and 11th Avenue, is a far tamer and inferior product.
Half a mile south of the Sails stands Richard Meier's one completed project in New York, three residential towers on Perry and Charles streets. Though well turned out, they are far less bold and imaginative than his Getty Museum, even though that very different project is itself far from perfect. It would seem then that there is a kind of gravitational drag that weighs down on architects in New York that is not present in Los Angeles.

This is especially true as regards the private home, a building typology with little or no relevance to New York City. Here again, Mr. Gehry is a representative example, above all in one of his early works, the deconstuctivist house he built for himself out of chicken wire, corrugated aluminum, and cinder blocks that first earned him the international reputation he enjoys today. For such an architectural act, there is no equivalent and there can never be an equivalent, in the city of New York.

[email protected]
 

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city driver
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Krull--
thanks for the pics of especially the french chateau and tudor architecture in NYC. I really need to get out to queens and check it out. I've heard it's the closest to LA-style urbanism in NYC. Also exceptionally diverse like LA so I can't wait to check it out.

I think it's great to see places that are similar to home but different enough to make you see your own city differently when you return. Whenever I'm in San Diego or San Francisco, I really like the neighborhoods that could "almost be in LA" because you get to see a different spin on something you're acquainted with.
 

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city driver
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Also, aside from comparing cities (like we are doing...) I would really like it if people would chime in on the question Dave actually asked:
SHOULD we be comparing our city to other cities.

I think this is interesting and I'd like to know other people's motives.
 

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Silver Lake
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I could care less if idiots didn't want to move here. But I have tons of extremely gifted, ivy-league-educated, potentially-influential friends who dismiss LA. And that means NYC gets all the smart kids out of college. NYC gets all the interesting writers, fashion-designers, activists, etc. Luckily the artists are being forced here and are starting to realize this is in fact not a cultural wasteland, and the music scene is definitely picking up here for the same reason.

But right now LA only gets the "starving artist" smart people. Think about how much our city could improve if we pulled in the non-starving bright and talented people (and I don't think hollywood qualifies).

Think about it... New York gets the cream of the crop from around the country. If we could get them to move here, we could really go to work on the potential that LA has.

I'm not saying we need rich privelaged educated young white kids to make our city great.. but I do think it could make things easier.



We are still a dynamic city, an undecided city, and I'm afraid that smart people are no longer attracted to that..

And I know that LA has huge potential to be a model for the changing world we live in, not a "trust fund kid" like european-modeled cities..
Everywhere else can feel fine knowing what is right. Here, it is crucial that we do what is right.
I know you will argue against this but as a reader it seems that you are equating "rich white kids" w/ "smart people" which are not always or even most times interchangeable. I think in a city that is still growing by 10.1 persons per hour smart people are streaming into the place. Oh yeah, a "smart person" or better yet an ambitious person could be the immigrant whose 'back is still wet' or one claiming amnesty from a hostile past environment. In my experience "smart people" who have attended these status quo institutions are the least "creative" people. It seems that truely original and moving art is most times made by people who usually aren't very rich, usually have little or no money, most times commands no respect, are commoners and ironically usually die that way. The art explosion in visual art as well as music in NYC that most would agree stretches from sometime from the late 60's on until the late 80's if not the early 90's was not created in large part from a populace that had anything to do with Harvard or Dartmouth.

And in this rare occasion I'm going to have to side w/ "Nygirl" on this one. First before we go any further I think this thread should be closed and locked, never being able to see the light of day. With that said, I'm embarrassed that this thread was even created. It seems as though it was borne out of an insecurity about Los Angeles being compared to other cities, that quite frankly are not even in the same league. First I LOVE LA!!! Secondly, I LOVE NEW YORK EQUALLY...... I think they are both dynamic places with a vast untold story still to unfold. But let's be frank, LA is at best a work in progress.....not because it is inferior or any kind of muckety muck....but because of the fact that it's just not there yet. NYC along w/ Chicago were full fledged cities already recognized worldwide during 3 great wars, Civil, WWI and WWII. LA had only been incorporated AS A CITY for a little more than 10 years when the Civil War came around and only after WWII started to form into the hyper LA that we know and love today. But let's not do this to ourselves, I mean why? What for? I take pride in the fact that LA hasn't figured it all out just yet.........all great cities go through this process usually more than once in their history......they also seem to climb in population and then fall and then begin to climb again......LA hasn't even had a large scale emptying out yet......I mean at one point the great NYC saw a -10% growth.....and yet it still survived, same w/ Chicago it's been burned completely out before. These cities need to be applauded for their determination to keep it together and not become very real examples as in the Cleveland's and St. Louis' of the world, cities once considered on par w/ the aforementioned...... remember that shit can happen......it can even happen here!
Although LA did manage to make it through a double whammy of a major earthquake and major riot in the early 90's so that certainly shows that the city has some survivability to it......but let's not blow our wads to early. And btw contrary to popular belief and how it may look aesthetically what you want are poor immigrants to fill your city (outside of outright slavery)it's sort of a "soft slavery". They always carry the most civic pride, are the most ambitious, are the "glue" and who are the ones who really drive your economy. This is what those other 2 aforementioned great cities used to gain their rock solid status, well along w/ mafia/gangs which LA seems to be following in the exact footsteps except for it being a century and a half later.
So basically LA just hasn't been around long enough and hasn't weathered enough changes in the country and world to really be compared to NYC or Chicago........it is still a majical and unique place but let's enjoy it as it fumbles towards being a great city also known as 'the reluctant metropolis'. We still have a lot to grow....face it, we're still dealing with people like "Ferney" who don't see the relationship between something as simple as toll roads to fund a world class mass transit system(if that would be the case)......we still have a ways to go.

One last thing......Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Diego, San Antonio ARE the true contemporaries of Los Angeles.
 

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city driver
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Klamedia.. I agree with most of what you wrote.
However, I think that what you are missing is that the world is different than it was one hundred years ago. We are not just following the same established "rise to cityhood" that used to take place.

I think the world is much more complicated and dynamic and volatile and fickle than it used to be. Things can change incredibly quickly now, and that's why I think we have to be vigilant about keeping our city viable and influential.

My "rich white kids" thing was really about perception. I don't think those "smart" people are actually smarter than anyone else, I just think that they command flows of resources. Chicago is building green buildings like crazy because it has rich white kids who think it's cool. If we had some of those people trying to make LA's transportation and housing situation better, don't try to kid yourself that things wouldn't happen faster around here.

I'm talking about cultural capital. Though it's great to think about a home-grown movement of disadvantaged voices empowering themselves to make change, that's just literally more time than we have. I completely believe that LA's greatness is in its diversity and blue-collar nature. However, so many people think of it as a worthless, culturally-deprived place that resources for public works instead go to seattle, or worse, portland...

I think it IS important to compare cities because we need the people who currently command progressive media, political, and capital attention (celebrities are a joke these days) to become interested in making LA a better place. There is a tremendous white liberal machine out there that, if it just knew how provincial and blind it was being, would be forced out of guilt to embrace LA.

People NEED to figure out how to make functioning global cities that can add tremendous amounts of new residents from all over the world and from all backgrounds. LA is the closest we have to something like this, in the entire world, right now. Why are none of my progressive, white, policy-minded, intellectual, rich-parented friends intrigued by this??? We have a chance to set a model for the new globalized city.

Yes, I think it would be great to get the people who already are pushing for change in the world (and most importantly, being listened to) to become interested in LA.

Right now, those people would rather see it die.
 

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I think the answer to the subject of this thread is NO, we should not compare LA to other cities. That doesnt mean that LA is superior or inferior. It just means that every city grows in different ways at different paces, so there is no justification for comparing them. But as for the comment that NYC is not as architecturally diverse as LA, I have to completely flat out disagree with that. I think what you're thinking about is when you see NYC in the movies and on TV, which depict all of the tall buildings in a skyline. You cant really see the diversity of NYC from images like that. You have to actually walk the streets to know it. You said that if you walk from one part of NYC to another you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. That is completely false. Try taking a walk down broadway or 5th avenue as far as you can go. Also, from the movies and TV you don't really get a chance to see all of the neighborhoods that are nestled in between these massive CBDs. Places like SoHo, Greenwich Village, Lower East Side, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, DUMBO and downtown Brooklyn, Astoria, Flushing, etc. all have a VERY unique look and feel that you couldnt find anywhere in LA. But again, like I said, LA is different from NYC so I'm not saying that NYC is better (although I must admit that I personally prefer NYC). I also appreciate the diversity of LA's architecture. I just think that it's ridiculous to say that NYC's architecture is monotonous. I can say this because I have lived in BOTH cities for a very long time.
 

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city driver
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But I think it's stupid to say we shouldn't compare cities... People make decisions on where to move to, what to buy, where to visit, whom to do business with, etc. based on their perceptions of cities.

Obviously people have different preferences, opinions, or whatever. But the fact is, cities are actually different. How can you know what one city is without comparing it to another?

The only problem is that people are very very attached to their cities and take criticism personally. I know that I love LA and couldn't see myself anywhere else, but that's because I consider myself informed. I've done my research, my comparisons, etc. and I know that LA is the best place for me to be right now.

That said, if someone were to tell me about an amazing city I'd never heard of that was globally important, exceptionally diverse (in all aspects), and that had more opportunity and potential for me to make a difference in the world and improve myself personally, I would move there in a second.

As far as I know, there isn't anywhere better for me to be right now. And I know that because I have compared cities and made a decision based on that.

I think the problem is that too many people on this forum are just high schoolers who have no choice but to live with their parents in their hometown, and so they're just homebodies trying to prove to themselves that Des Moines really is more urban than Boise or whatever.

The other thing is, despite what people say, LA is comparable to other cities in respect to skyscrapers and density and whatever people use when describing traditional urbanism. It's not a "polar opposite" of NYC like everyone tries to claim. I'm not saying it is "the same." Obviously they are different, but they are both American cities and so the majority of people in each metro live in suburban settings, which is markedly different than cities like, say, Tokyo or Cairo.
 
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