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nashville_bound

Is suburb vs. urban still relevant?

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Thanks for this piece, I enjoyed it a lot--but what I think it points to more than anything else is the massive difference between an old European city like London and an urban renewal-ed American city like Nashville. Suburban London is probably more pedestrian- and transit-friendly than central Nashville. And as limited as urban development still is here, I'm struck by the huge difference between urban Nashville and the suburbs. Drive up Franklin road from Franklin at night, and when you cross 440 it's like you suddenly leave the darkness and enter a new world of light and activity.

Personally I think it's going to become even moreso. Most of Nashville's suburbs simply can't be made navigable to pedestrians, accessible to mass transit, or given an active street life. They're far too spread out. I think the future, for Nashville, is a crowded and lively core surrounded by an expanse of Red Robins and Paneras in a sea of asphalt, and aging single family stick-built homes slowly losing their value on cul-de-sacs. We will probably have mini-cores in Franklin and Gallatin, hopefully with rail to downtown, Each city is unique, but I think here, the core and the suburbs will only become more different.

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I think I agree a lot with the post above. London to Nashville is not apples to apples in a lot of respects

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I tend to agree with the sentiments posted above. I currently live in suburban Philadelphia, Wayne, to be exact, and I can attest that it is very VERY different than the situation in Nashville. I work in Center City, and I walk to the train station that's 50 yards from my apartment's front door. The train runs from early in the morning until around midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and then until after 1AM on Friday and Saturday. I have a grocery store that I can walk to just down the street. There are dozens of restaurants of all kind (bars, fine dining, fast food, delis, bakeries, etc.) within a 15 minute walk. There are sidewalks going pretty much everywhere, too. The differences between suburbs and city is blurring here.

This is not the situation in any suburb of Nashville, and there just isn't enough density in the suburbs to give it a true "urban" feel that you can get in suburbs of old European cities.

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Older suburbs in some of the larger American cities are pretty urban - because they were built prior to WWII. Chicago has a lot of suburbs that were part of the street grid but that didn't get annexed by the city in 1893. For example, Oak Park was a rival with the suburb of Austin and Oak Park's town leaders worked to get Austin annexed as part of the 1893 expansions for the World's Fair. Evanston is a very urban suburb across the line on the north but the Methodists founded Northwestern University there and wanted to remain separate from Chicago because at that time Methodists did not drink alcohol. Chicago also as lots of suburbs that were railroad towns that have their own downtowns (even Naperville!), are on street grids, and have townhomes, bungaloes and sidewalks everywhere. In Chicago, those inter-urban rail lines are still alive and well because they never went away. The same is true I am sure in most of the larger East Coast cities and in a few other others. Now over time other suburbs filled in the gaps between those older railroad towns surrounding Chicago and those have all of the post-WWII qualities that we describe as "suburban."

Whereas in Nashville, our interuban rail lines were either ripped up long ago or converted to exclusive freight use. The Tennessee Central and the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) once had lots of stops to downtown Madison, Gallatin, Lebanon, Franklin, etc, but those stations were destroyed (for the most part) and you would never know that they are there today. Madison recently got the Amqui Train Station back and it is part of the park in downtown Madison. It would be cool to have that be part of a commuter rail line to Hendersonville and Gallatin but I'm not holding my breath.

Edited by bwithers1

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A lot of points in this thread are very relevant. Many of our "urban" inner city neighborhoods are more or less similar to suburban development in older or larger cities. In fact, a lot of those areas are described as "streetcar suburbs" pointing to the time that they were developed. So in that respect, I agree with the premise that THAT type of urban vs. suburban is not as relevant. However...when discussing the winding streets, cul-de-sacs, non-sidewalked, segregated residential/commercial districts, and non-through street subdivisions...it is quite relevant.

Think Hillsboro-Belmont or Hillsboro West End (what would likely be considered "suburban" in older or larger cities) vs. most Brentwood or Franklin development.

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An interesting piece asserting (and making a good argument) that the is almost no difference ....

http://www.theatlant...city-beat/3041/

Try comparing where I lived in Bellevue to now, there is no comparison. Bellevue is dead. East Nashville is alive and growing. I thought the article was pompous, exaggerated, self serving, and way to verbose. The writer could have stated his argument in 250 words or less and been done with it. Thanks for posting however.

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