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How close are we to being a "real" city?

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More cultural amenities, more public transportation, more parks, less cars, more walkability, more corporate presence downtown, more full "live-work-play-buy-sell" experience downtown, more time. 

Edited by dcluley98
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There seem to be only a few “real” cities left in the US. With car ownership so high and the presence of sprawl almost everywhere, not many cities which have their Renaissance post-World War II can be “real” like NYC or San Francisco or Chicago. Hell, LA is one of the most important cities in the Western Hemisphere and it’s “realness” is constantly argued about due to how spread out it is. So in that sense, Orlando will never be a real city.

But I think the term “city” has changed dramatically, and Orlando is very close to the definition of a 21st-century city. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an Orlando or Atlanta or Charlotte or San Diego. Most people don’t care about density and aren’t desperately against sprawl anyway. That’s probably taboo to say on a site named Urban Planet but it is what it is. Real cities aren’t a la mode nowadays; NYC and Chicago are growing but at a snail’s pace. For an entire host of reasons, many sprawling, newer, mid-major cities are more desirable to a lot of people than huge urban centers.

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11 minutes ago, Dale said:

Be careful what you wish for. Even NYC isn't a real city anymore. Depressing article ...

https://harpers.org/archive/2018/07/the-death-of-new-york-city-gentrification/

I only read that article for a minute, but I really don't get why gentrification is a bad thing. Its a critical component of increasing density and growth and creating literally every single city we love. My favorite fact from the little bit  I read "More than 40,000 new buildings went up during Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years as mayor (2002–13), and another 25,000 buildings were demolished."

 

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12 minutes ago, aent said:

I only read that article for a minute, but I really don't get why gentrification is a bad thing. Its a critical component of increasing density and growth and creating literally every single city we love. My favorite fact from the little bit  I read "More than 40,000 new buildings went up during Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years as mayor (2002–13), and another 25,000 buildings were demolished."

 

Well, if buildings are what make real city, Disney is adding them all the time.

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Just now, Dale said:

Well, if buildings are what make real city, Disney is adding them all the time.

I pasted a very small excerpt obviously, but it was surrounded by more facts about those buildings, how they've increased in size, increased the density, etc.

But I mean, many consider Disney World to be a city that is rapidly growing. And if you go by the definition....

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35 minutes ago, aent said:

I only read that article for a minute, but I really don't get why gentrification is a bad thing. Its a critical component of increasing density and growth and creating literally every single city we love. My favorite fact from the little bit  I read "More than 40,000 new buildings went up during Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years as mayor (2002–13), and another 25,000 buildings were demolished."

 

You see no downsides to gentrification? None at all?

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2 minutes ago, aent said:

I pasted a very small excerpt obviously, but it was surrounded by more facts about those buildings, how they've increased in size, increased the density, etc.

But I mean, many consider Disney World to be a city that is rapidly growing. And if you go by the definition....

For me, the depressing part of the article is the way that gentrification has washed away so much of what made the city distinct and colorful and affordable and accessible and workaday, etc. Sort of like what happened to Orlando’s Orange Ave.

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Just now, Dale said:

For me, the depressing part of the article is the way that gentrification has washed away so much of what made the city distinct and colorful and affordable and accessible and workaday, etc. Sort of like what happened to Orlando’s Orange Ave.

Except what was washed away, what made it distinct and colorful and accessible before was the gentrification prior to that of lesser structures. Thats literally the cycle.

 

Just now, Uncommon said:

You see no downsides to gentrification? None at all?

As long as zoning keeps up and makes sure many many new beds are being added (something Silicon Valley has failed to do), not really, no, its part of the process of increasing wages, improving quality of life, and building a bigger, better city. In 20 or 30 years, the people in NYC today will be complaining that they lost the culture of today. Its a cycle, if thats not happening, the city is stagnant, its not growing, and its not growing because its boring, there is little to do or no jobs, people don't want to be there.

I'm not saying there is no victims in the process, but its how progress happens.

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2 hours ago, aent said:

I only read that article for a minute, but I really don't get why gentrification is a bad thing. Its a critical component of increasing density and growth and creating literally every single city we love. My favorite fact from the little bit  I read "More than 40,000 new buildings went up during Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years as mayor (2002–13), and another 25,000 buildings were demolished."

 

I was in NYC a week ago and let me tell you, it’s shocking how dead SOHO and TriBeCa have become since even a decade ago. We are talking about the center of downtown NYC. 

London has the same issue.

The term “gentrification” is a bit of a catch all at this point and thus meaningless.

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8 hours ago, aent said:

Except what was washed away, what made it distinct and colorful and accessible before was the gentrification prior to that of lesser structures. Thats literally the cycle.

 

As long as zoning keeps up and makes sure many many new beds are being added (something Silicon Valley has failed to do), not really, no, its part of the process of increasing wages, improving quality of life, and building a bigger, better city. In 20 or 30 years, the people in NYC today will be complaining that they lost the culture of today. Its a cycle, if thats not happening, the city is stagnant, its not growing, and its not growing because its boring, there is little to do or no jobs, people don't want to be there.

I'm not saying there is no victims in the process, but its how progress happens.

Progress for whom exactly? I see your point and recognize why gentrification is a net positive in some circles, but if it’s at the expense of poor, working class people of color, what, it’s just fair game? What’s being described here essentially amounts to colonization. It further expedites the process of either the rich or the white completely taking over. I guess that’s good for everyone except the individuals being driven out. Progress at the price of lower, trivial, insignificant people I suppose.

Edited by Uncommon

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For me a real city has a sense of place, tradition, etc. You know,..you feel... where you are at as soon as you land at the airport. The vibe you get as you explore the city's neighborhoods, architecture , culture , food...

Austin, Atlanta, Boston, LA, and on and on have this. We do too...its just not the feel we all want. We have put all of our eggs in the theme park basket and that is what you feel when you arrive here unfortunately.  The only way to slowly change this is by refocusing our energy in the core of the city and its neighborhoods. Create civic pride and put effort into new projects and designs.

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4 hours ago, Uncommon said:

Progress for whom exactly? I see your point and recognize why gentrification is a net positive in some circles, but if it’s at the expense of poor, working class people of color, what, it’s just fair game? What’s being described here essentially amounts to colonization. It further expedites the process of either the rich or the white completely taking over. I guess that’s good for everyone except the individuals being driven out. Progress at the price of lower, trivial, insignificant people I suppose.

The thing is the process of gentrification and growth provides opportunities for people of ALL class. You stop that demolition and construction for the areas being gentrified, you're eliminating the jobs from the lower and lower-middle class people who actually do the labor of building those buildings. Those people don't have jobs, they can't spend at the local businesses, and end up being more of a burden as they then become those needing welfare.

And what did those people lose? The ability to rent an apartment in an area they generally can't afford anything and maybe have a job that doesn't make ends meet? For the poor that do own their place, they actually get the opportunity to cash out on their wise real estate investment and get help moving up. (I am against using eminent domain to force them out, and while I don't like that the church ruined out street grid, I didn't think it'd be right to kick them out, although I do think they should have to pay taxes just like everyone else so there is the same cost to hold the land everyone else has)

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I think the concept or idea of what it means to be a "real city" depends upon each individual's perception.

To me, it means dense, multi-story downtown construction that houses a plethora of residential, retail and restaurants that are still open and doing a brisk business late into the evening. 

IOW, a lotta different kinds of stuff going on all the time.

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2 minutes ago, AndyPok1 said:

We are a real city.  Period.  Full Stop.

Technically, yes.

But how do we compare to say, Miami for instance? 

Or Portland?

Or Austin, Tx?

We still have a way to go, I think.

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I don't believe in comparisons by and large because every city is unique.  If we're going by that standard, then Chicago isn't a real city because to me it's a half-ass New York.

We're a tier 3 city.  We probably always will be just because of southern sprawl, lack of age, and closeness of Miami and Tampa.  But we're one of, if not, the best in that group.

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52 minutes ago, AndyPok1 said:

I don't believe in comparisons by and large because every city is unique.  If we're going by that standard, then Chicago isn't a real city because to me it's a half-ass New York.

We're a tier 3 city.  We probably always will be just because of southern sprawl, lack of age, and closeness of Miami and Tampa.  But we're one of, if not, the best in that group.

So then the question would be, what makes a tier 3 city a "real city"? Is any tier 3 city a "real city"? 

Downtown Orlando is still deficient with regards to shopping and quick, in and out eating establishments.

I think a downtown ought to be like a lot like a mall, but with sidewalks and no roof.

I found an interesting, relevant article on the topic. Unfortunately, it didn't go as far down the list as tier 3, but as for 1 and 2:

"Studies have continued in collaboration with Dr. Emil Malizia of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, who independently pursued the topic of “vibrant cities” from an urban planning perspective. Our studies are examining a taxonomy of American cities, a grouping together of cities with common characteristics that point toward economic and social success, characteristics that have supported superior real estate investment performance over nearly three decades now.

Those attributes include diurnal activity (measured by the number of drugstores in 24/7 operation), population density (more than 9,000 per square mile), low crime (fewer than 5,000 FBI Index Crimes per 100,000 residents), transportation (a minimum 10% of the workforce using public transit), live/work proximity (at least 30% of workers living within one mile of downtown), and high Walk Scores. Cities that rank at the top of four of the six criteria are Tier One cities, and are popularly termed “24-hour cities.” Those that meet three of the criteria are clustered as Tier Two cities, matching a grouping termed “18-hour cities” in the industry survey Emerging Trends in Real Estate.

Studying 42 cities in detail, we find six Tier One cities at present: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC. Eight cities qualify as Tier Two: Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland OR, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Austin, and Miami."

https://realtoru.edu/americas-top-tier-cities-real-estate-investment-seeks-urban-quality-choices/

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1 hour ago, JFW657 said:

I think the concept or idea of what it means to be a "real city" depends upon each individual's perception.

To me, it means dense, multi-story downtown construction that houses a plethora of residential, retail and restaurants that are still open and doing a brisk business late into the evening. 

IOW, a lotta different kinds of stuff going on all the time.

In terms of it being one's opinion, T\this is what I think of when I think of 'Real City'

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I don't think it has anything to do with random metrics like 24/7 drugstores.

What I do care about...

We have a downtown population of over 45,000.  Austin has 14,000. 
Employee wise, Austin has 92,000 in 10 million sqft.  We have 150,000 in 13 mil sqft.

I will never understand the love for Austin.  The only metric they win in is Breakfast Tacos.  And boy do I love breakfast tacos.

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