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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The US is such a large nation and so separated from other parts of the world by two oceans that we don't always get a good idea how others see us.

I'd be most interested in how Europeans see American cities. I'm not necessarily talking about Europeans who have visited the US. I'm talking about Europeans in general. I'm interested in seeing if you see our cities the way we do.

How much do American cities register in your mind? What do you think of when you think of our major cities? What type of images are drawn to your mind (if any)?

The following are some major, highly evocative US cities. What, if anything, do the following mean to you?

New York
Washington
Chicago
Boston
Miami
San Francisco
Los Angeles
 

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Those are some things that come to my mind. They're not necessarily neutral, as I've spent quite some time in the US.

-even minor cities have some kind of highrises
-cities are designed for easy automobile transportation, with big and wide streets and intersections
-there often is bad public transportation, though
-cities are always planned in a roster (downtown in the middle, then lots of residential/industrial suburbs around it) as opposed to European cities, where the quarters often mingle and no clear line can be drawn
-European: parks, mall streets, historic old town w/ chuches in the center; American: none of that, highrises instead

That's what I associate with the following cities:
-New York: THE classic skyscraper metropolis; financial/industrial center; clogged with traffic; great income inequality with between rich people and poor people; THE ethnic melting pot (lots of immigrants!); ghettos
-Washington, D.C.: not so much a classic city but instead a purely symbolic value, representing American politics (landmarks, government buildings, etc.); this does not necessarily have to be a bad thing
-Chicago: runner-up to New York
-Boston: history and culture! very English
-Miami: crime, drugs, immigration, tourism
-San Francisco: liberal attitude, warm, friendly
-Los Angeles: crime, drugs, Hispanics, gigantic highways, city of glamour (Hollywood and Beverly Hills,!), sunny, brutal police force (probably because of TV stereotypes ;) ); modern urbanity (not "classic" as New York is)

I hope you expected something in this manner. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
John-Claude said:
I hope you expected something in this manner. :)
Of course it does, John-Claude, that was exactly the kind of commentary I was hoping for. Thanks for sharing. I hope others will, too. It is so interesting to see how we are seen by others, removed from where we are. I think views like yours help us in creating a reality check about our own nation and our own cities.
 

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I was only in NYC, Boston, Austin, San Antonio, Amarillo, passed by Houston and Dallas and visited some smaller Texan towns all around the state. But the differences are huge imo. I know people living in LA or San Diego and other US cities. Generally I have the impression that US cities even with 1mio+ metros are quite "rural" in society, culture and thinking comparing to European towns (apart from an architetural point of view - but only considering business buildings). NYC on the other hand is very European imo as the obvious Boston is. Apart from the historical background I didn't see too much differences between them and e.g. London or Berlin.
 

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for me American citys are very boring, they look all equals except the citys in New England and some athor citys like S. Francisco!!
 

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American cities despite vast distances between them are very much alike. Whether it's a small town or a large city, if you take a particular part of it, it will be identical on both.

So there's not much difference going from one city to another. But there is a huge difference going from one beighbourhood in the other, within any and every city.

Every city has a village within a city that's larger than the city. For example in New-York, basically everything beyond Manhattan is a village. Small, private houses and 2-story buildings all over.

- Great skyscrapers and highrises in every city downtown.
- Bad subways
- Wonderful roads
- Huge distances. Almost impossible to travel without a car.
- Trains are not as important as they are in Europe.
- Very few squares/plaza's.
 

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New York - the best city in the world.. hehe.. i love N.Y.. the melting pot
Washington - Segregated? i know its one of the murder capitals of U.S
Chicago - Looks very boring? just my impression
Boston - n/A
Miami - Warm, segregated?, overrated ?
San Francisco - got me thinking of China :) looks like a great city
Los Angeles - gotta love it.. but i think los angeles has a bad reputation in Europe bcause of its gang problems etc
 

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Only NYC is as interesting as every major European city is to me!
Why ? Because New York has Times Square, Broadway, Central Park, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue etc etc.
And the other (big) cities? They just have random skyscrapers, wide lanes, Wallmarts and parks, but nothing really beautifull/impressive/famous/historic/royal etc. what makes it interesting.
An American city seems to be nothing more than a dull businesscentre, with huge low-density neighbourhoods around them.
Give me one reason why I should want to visit Atlanta ?!
 

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Spotter said:
Only NYC is as interesting as every major European city is to me!
Why ? Because New York has Times Square, Broadway, Central Park, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue etc etc.
And the other (big) cities? They just have random skyscrapers, wide lanes, Wallmarts and parks, but nothing really beautifull/impressive/famous/historic/royal etc. what makes it interesting.
An American city seems to be nothing more than a dull businesscentre, with huge low-density neighbourhoods around them.
Give me one reason why I should want to visit Atlanta ?!
First of all, Wal*Marts are mostly located in suburbs or rural areas - Chicago does not have a Walmart and neither does Los Angeles, I think. American cities spew urbanity - even a flyover (what we call the area between Chicago and LA) city like Des Moines has a great skyline:


Some cities in the U.S. have interesting architecture - New Orleans, Miami Beach and San Francisco are just some of them. Downtown Los Angeles has so much left from the early 20th century, Chicago bristles with skyscrapers from every decade! (By the way I want to stress that European skyscrapers are extremely anti-urban and every U.S. city outside Texas seeks to integrate its tall buildings into the urban landscape). Miami is a place where Latin America does business, Philadelphia has history on every block, countless other cities have restored their architecture. Vibrant downtowns are becoming the norm among American cities - among the biggest, only Detroit and San Jose lag in this aspect. In the largest cities, transit is at par with European levels (but it's actually affordable). Smaller cities like San Diego, Saint Louis and Seattle are expanding their rail. It might never be enough to create transit-dependent cities, but there is a realization that progress is desired. And despite what everyone says, American cities are unique. Houston, for example, has no zoning. You see skyscrapers in residential neighborhoods, churches next to strip clubs, multiple downtowns, unusual architecture... Why should you visit Atlanta? To check out the subway:
 

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edsg25 said:
How much do American cities register in your mind? What do you think of when you think of our major cities? What type of images are drawn to your mind (if any)?

The following are some major, highly evocative US cities. What, if anything, do the following mean to you?

New York
Washington
Chicago
Boston
Miami
San Francisco
Los Angeles
Okay then, here are my impressions:-

New York - arguably the best and most important city in the world, utterly jaw-dropping skyline and cityscape, amazingly vibrant and full of culture and character. It's difficult to overstate its brilliance.

Washington - obviously the political heart of America, it has some great symbolic landmarks, but unfortunately the impression I get of the city itself is that it's a declining city with spiralling crime rates (especially murder).

Chicago - a major business and financial centre in America, an incredible skyline, birthplace of the skyscraper. Seems to be doing very well at the moment, with some very nice arts/culture venues, sports/leisure, nice parks, etc. Unfortunately, crime is still quite high (?).

Boston - one of the nicest and most beautiful looking cities in America, very wealthy, with some great Universities and colleges. Don't really know much else apart from that.

Miami - very hot and sunny, nice waterfront location, plenty of luxury apartments/hotels/nightclubs, but high crime rate.

San Francisco - a very relaxed and laid back city, a cool skyline (including the greatest bridge in the world), some nice neighbourhoods, very hilly in places, warm and sunny. Featured in many films/TV shows.

Los Angeles - a tight cluster of gigantic skyscrapers, surrounded by vast urban sprawl, too many cars and pollution. Crime is high, especially drugs, and the city has an oppressive police force with a history of corruption. On the plus side it has a strong economy, and serves as an extremely important centre for media/entertainment/culture.
 

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New York
Without a doubt the best skyline in the US. A cosmopolitan metropolis. The city is vibrant and full of life The financial and cultural centre of the US and an important financial and cultural centre throughout the globe. The city be dirty, smelly, polluted, congested and have problems with crime, and poverty but it's got a hell of a lot of character.

Washington
Pretty dissapointing for the capital city of the worlds most powerful country. I also get the impression that it's a pretty dangerous place.

Chicago
Again, crime is the first thing I think of - Al Capone anyone? This may have been many, many years ago, but it is the first thing i associate with Chicago. The skyline is the only other feature of the city that springs to mind: one of the worlds best.

Boston
One of the better cities in the US. Amongst the world's best universities, colleges and schools. One of the more European cities in the US. Also, quite a rich, studenty city with an amazing architectural heritage and some of the best row houses in the US. Best city in the US after NY [in my opinion]

Miami
Art Deco and Crime

San Francisco
One of the most liberal cities in the world. The first thing I associate this city with is it's gay population. San Fransisco is possibly the world's gay capital. The only other thing I can think of is the Golden Gate Bridge: on of the world's most magnificent structures.

Los Angeles
I have the impression that LA is a bit of a hole, but at the same time a magnet for the rich and famous. The Western World's movie hub, but a very sprawly, crime-ridden city apparantly.
 

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I see many US cities as huge villages, not genuine cities - just a bunch of skyscrapers surrounded by villages (Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver......)

Las Vegas is the worst case in my opinion, so fake and so shallow....

On the other hand some cities are somewhat different - New York of course, which is more european than american, maybe Boston and Chicago, San Francisco is unique...

New Orleans is interesting with it's old and well preserved french town (or what is the name?)

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Almost all american cities look alike, they are built on the same pattern...

What I dislike the most in average american city is the lack of a real town center, there are no pedestrian zones, no city squares (even New York - Times Sq would be good if there weren't any traffic but this way it not a real square), no cafes and bars on the streets.... but there are some huge highways in city centers.....
 

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New York - The birthplace of the idea of "skyline".

Washington - Where decisions that affect me more than my own government's decisions are made, but I don't have a voice.

Chicago - Mafia.

Boston - Absolutely nothing.

Miami - Sunny, tropical - US's "Latin America" city.

San Francisco - Gay rights, steep streets, Golden Gate bridge.

Los Angeles - Millions and millions of people chasing after Hollywood dreams.
 

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ĐaMila said:
New York - The birthplace of the idea of "skyline".
I think Chicago deserves this label as the very first skyscrapers were built in Chicago...

btw I think New York and San Francisco are one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I also like Chicago. on the other hand I hate LA and Miami...
 

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my toughts


New York : the centre of the universe , vibrant bustling metropolis
Washington : boring
Chicago : business city , feels cold , the best architecture in the entire US
Boston : perfect location , nice reminder of Europe
Miami : colourful warm Caribian , inviting place
San Francisco : simply georgous
Los Angeles : an urban wasteland , soulless
 

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New York: By far most important city in the USA, one of the greatest on earth. Impressive skyscraper skyline, very diverse city.
Washington: Political heart, bit boring, lots of neoclassical architecture, high crime rate and rundown area's directly next to city center.
Chicago: Cool, both in climate as in appearance. More modern skyline with lots of interesting skyscrapers. Business city, not as vibrant as NY. Al Capone and his '30s mafia.
Boston: University city, most "european" of all US cities. Green city. Quite rich and a little snobby.
Miami: Tropical, lots of palm trees. Lots of old people. Art Deco architecture in caribean style.
San Francisco: Golden Gate, stunning natural surroundings, nice human scale city center. Steep roads, street cars running up and down. Most left wing city, hippies, gay community, asean community.
Los Angeles: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, beaches, but also much crime, gangs, riots and no-go-areas. Gigantic urban sprawl, covering huge area with many other towns and cities disappearing in it. Unattractive and unwelcoming city center.
 

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edsg25 said:
The big apple, streets jammed with cabs, anonymous, rude, bustling, cosmopolitan, defines itself as capital of the world, famous shopping destination, most important musical scene, of course skyscrapers and statue of liberty, gate to northamerica for millions of immigrants until end of WW2, Frank Sinatra, Woody Allen.


Washington D.C.
capital of the USA, high crime rate


Birthplace of the skyscraper, sister city of Hamburg, Jazz and Blues, Al Capone.


"Boston Tea Party", Harvard University (well, some schools and faculties), intellectual, elitist.


Exile-Cubans, sunny, starting point for many caribbean cruise travels, alligators, "Miami Vice", Miami Beat, aged european tourists getting robbed.


San Francisco
"Streets of San Francisco", well known gay-scene, hilly, streetcar, earthquakes, big chinese population, sunny, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge.


Los Angeles
cars, wide highways, suburbia, one swimming pool in every private garden, smog, sunny, "Baywatch", Hollywood, stars, wannabes and fakers, earthquakes.
 
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