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TheBostonian

Cities that compare to Providence

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This was a tangent in the Burnside Park thread. I asked what cities outside of New England compare to Providence.

Eltron suggested Wilmington, Delaware. I noted:

"Like Providence it is a BosWash city not too far from other cities and very close to one big city. It is also the largest city of a very geographically small state. Though it is more of a banking center and is less dense (2,962.4/mi

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This was a tangent in the Burnside Park thread. I asked what cities outside of New England compare to Providence.

Eltron suggested Wilmington, Delaware. I noted:

"Like Providence it is a BosWash city not too far from other cities and very close to one big city. It is also the largest city of a very geographically small state. Though it is more of a banking center and is less dense (2,962.4/mi

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Going from population and density, I would suggest:

I would say Buffalo NY, Norfolk VA, Syracuse NY, Ann Arbor MI, Allentown PA, Pittsburgh PA... There's a number in CA but they're all suburbs of either LA or SF

If you look to Europe:

Verona Italy, Nottingham UK, Nantes France, Granada Spain... don't know about density but those seem to be similarly situated and similar population.

Just some ideas

Traz

(sorry, I'm a statistics geek)

Savannah, GA maybe

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Savannah, GA maybe

There are some similarities with Savannah and Charleston in terms of architecture. Providence also has historical connections with these cities.

But culturally and politically these are Southern cities and light years away from Providence on that level.

Providence has far more in common culturally and politically with fellow NE cities. The closest in my mind is Cambridge/Somerville.

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There are some similarities with Savannah and Charleston in terms of architecture. Providence also has historical connections with these cities.

But culturally and politically these are Southern cities and light years away from Providence on that level.

Providence has far more in common culturally and politically with fellow NE cities. The closest in my mind is Cambridge/Somerville.

My vote goes to Cambridge too.

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There are some similarities with Savannah and Charleston in terms of architecture. Providence also has historical connections with these cities.

But culturally and politically these are Southern cities and light years away from Providence on that level.

Providence has far more in common culturally and politically with fellow NE cities. The closest in my mind is Cambridge/Somerville.

I could see the Cambridge/Somerville combo if it was 15-20 years ago and they were 50 miles away from Boston instead of .2.

Definitely alot of parallels though.

Buffalo is too big, thats why I figure Rochester. Syracuse is similar in size, but a complete whole (though they are decided to center their town around a gigantic mall - Carousel!). I've always thought that Providence was EXACTLY like Ithaca, NY x 4.

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I could see the Cambridge/Somerville combo if it was 15-20 years ago and they were 50 miles away from Boston instead of .2.

Definitely alot of parallels though.

Buffalo is too big, thats why I figure Rochester. Syracuse is similar in size, but a complete whole (though they are decided to center their town around a gigantic mall - Carousel!). I've always thought that Providence was EXACTLY like Ithaca, NY x 4.

i don't see the cambridge/somerville likenesses. maybe certain neighborhoods in providence are similar (college hill and fox point come to mind), but not really much else. neither have a real "downtown" area though and they're almost completely supported by college students, while providence is not.

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I went to school in Ithaca. Doesn't remind me of Providence at all.

Really? I spent 5 years at school there too, and I see all sorts of similarities...

Ithaca Common = Westminster Street (albeit pre-luxury)

East Hill = College Hill

Cornell = Brown

Ithaca College = PC

some rougher hoods down the hill = some rougher hoods down south

lots of good food places per capita = lots of good food places per capita

Hot Truck = Haven Bros.

similar density in the neighborhoods with lots of victorian wood frame houses

even geographically, the town sits on a long narrow body of water (Cayuga Lake) like Providence (Narragansett Bay).

yeah, its a quarter the size, with no metro, but I think some interesting parallels are there.

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I don't think we can compare Providence to other cities based on city population alone. I saw a number of comparisons to relatively small cities such as Allentown, Erie, Ann Arbor, Duluth, which I think are a bit below Providence's league. While Providence's footprint is somewhat small, encapsulating a population of less than 200,000, if you add on the populations of Warwick, Cranston, East Providence and Pawtucket, it quickly becomes a "city" of over half a million people, with a metro of about 1.2 million plus. Thus, Providence is the cultural center for a much larger group of people than places like Erie or Duluth and it should be compared to cities and metros of this larger size.

Personally, I think cities that make better (non NE) peers for Providence in terms of their regional and national cultural and business clout would be Austin, Salt Lake City, Buffalo, Richmond, Columbus, and Raleigh among others. Though social norms and industries certainly vary in each of these cities and cases can be made to exclude some and include others, Providence is certainly not on par with Allentown, Erie, or Duluth!

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How about:

Springfield MA

Albany NY

???

I wanted to leave out comparison with other New England cities because it has been done already. Although Springfield does compare in size, it doesn't have the density, downtown, higher education and proximity to a major city or major metro. I don't know anything about Albany.

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I wanted to leave out comparison with other New England cities because it has been done already. Although Springfield does compare in size, it doesn't have the density, downtown, higher education and proximity to a major city or major metro. I don't know anything about Albany.

Because of the density of the Eastern seaboard, I don't think you will find a similar situation elsewhere. Providence is it's own decent sized Metro but it is locked in between Boston and New York. that's why it compares to cities like Hartford and New Haven and Portland which have a similar set-up. I would add Trenton, NJ if it ever starts to dig itself out of the hole. If Princeton were actually in Trenton proper I think the comparison would be all the more relevant.

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. Although Springfield does compare in size, it doesn't have the density, downtown, higher education and proximity to a major city or major metro.

Half joking and half serious on this: Springfield is close to one of the wealthiest, most dense, and largest metro areas in the Country.

Connecticut.

I know most don't feel that Hartford-New Haven-Springfield should be one metro, that's why I said half joking. I know that I feel it should be one metro, that's why I say half serious. I think everyone will agree that if Springfield was not so close to Hartford and CT in general, the problems there would be exponentially greater. And any vague promise of a re-birth would be virtually non-existant if they were not 15 minutes from Hartford and 10 minutes from our Airport.

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Half joking and half serious on this: Springfield is close to one of the wealthiest, most dense, and largest metro areas in the Country.

Connecticut.

I know most don't feel that Hartford-New Haven-Springfield should be one metro, that's why I said half joking. I know that I feel it should be one metro, that's why I say half serious. I think everyone will agree that if Springfield was not so close to Hartford and CT in general, the problems there would be exponentially greater. And any vague promise of a re-birth would be virtually non-existant if they were not 15 minutes from Hartford 10 minutes from our Airport.

springfield wouldn't be what it is without hartford and bradley. although it is the only city in MA on 91 and the CT river...

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Personally, I think cities that make better (non NE) peers for Providence in terms of their regional and national cultural and business clout would be Austin, Salt Lake City, Buffalo, Richmond, Columbus, and Raleigh among others. Though social norms and industries certainly vary in each of these cities and cases can be made to exclude some and include others, Providence is certainly not on par with Allentown, Erie, or Duluth!

I'd buy some of these...particularly Salt Lake City and Richmond. The others are quite a bit bigger I think. I think Richmond might be dead-on in particular. Didn't think of that one...

I think Toledo, OH is really pretty close, though obviously not in the same league as PVD in many ways...similar layout, size, and proximity to major city (though in many ways I think Detroit fails to measure up as a major city, except crime...).

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springfield wouldn't be what it is without hartford and bradley. although it is the only city in MA on 91 and the CT river...

Springfield, because of the river, was big long before the Wright Brothers started building bicycles, nevermind Bradley airport which is fairly recent, speaking historically. Bradley and Hartford will help a renaissance, of course, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the only reason Springfield exists is because of Hartford.

I will agree that Springfield's economy is more attached to Hartford than Boston, however. Beacon Hill only seems to see as far as Worcester, and even that is only on a very clear day.

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Stamford, CT

Worcester, MA

St. Paul, MN

Milwaukee, WI

mine are based on a whole bunch of reasons

Well, the first two are in New England, which the OP was trying to avoid.

St.Paul = Minneapolis. I think that is way too big to compare to Providence.

Milwaukee 20 years ago might have worked, except it was then 4x the size of Providence, and now it has Waukesha next door at 500K + in the county... bringing the metro to about double Providence.

I was thinking more, and Annapolis MD might be an adequate comparison. It has a number of colleges there (USNA, St. Johns), not sure how it goes on size comparison or density. Its also kinda swallowed inbetween DC and Baltimore, so it doesn't have some things on its own, which Providence has.

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Guess it's pretty damn unique. I think it's actually worth looking across the pond for viable comparisons. Granada in Spain is one, Liverpool in the UK, Bologna in Italy. It's funny, in the US I think Philadelphia has the most similar feel.

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I think Richmond is probably the most apt. It's size and density are probably close to or on par with Providence, and it's proximity to DC mimics PVDs proximity to Boston (finding a city that is not too close but not too far from a larger metro is the tricky part of the comparison). The cities were both built at about the same time. Northern VA was more culturally like New England until the Civil War and there are traces of that cultural similarity remaining. Richmond is certainly southern, but not as foreign as some cities further south.

So yeah, I'd say Richmond and New York. :P

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Guess it's pretty damn unique.

I think the diminutive nature of our municipalities in New England makes it hard to find a comparison outside the region. Had it not been for it's inability to annex it's neighbours, Providence wouldn't have developed the way it did. We have this rather dense, but rather small city as a result, making comparisons with places like Bufallo, where the city was allowed to spread out for miles, difficult. Providence's core is comparable to many cities, including much larger cities like Philadelphia, but it quickly stops being a city just a couple miles outside the core. Making a whole city comparison difficult.

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Providence's core is comparable to any cities, including much larger cities like Philadelphia, but it quickly stops being a city just a couple miles outside the core. Making a whole city comparison difficult.

Excellent point...

I agree with Ari that Philadelphia is the best US comparison I'm aware of, despite its larger size.

I've never been to Liverpool, UK, but I had the impression it was a much, much bigger city than Providence. How is it similar?

As for St. Paul=Minneapolis, I don't think so. The two cities have very, very different feels and flavor. Read my original post for more info.

As for Stamford, CT, I grew up about 40 minutes from Stamford, and I still have no idea exactly what it is... Big train station? Corporate HQ central? A dense suburb that happens to qualify for city status? All of the above? I have no idea, but I know it's nothing like Providence.

- Garris

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Excellent point...

I agree with Ari that Philadelphia is the best US comparison I'm aware of, despite its larger size.

I've never been to Liverpool, UK, but I had the impression it was a much, much bigger city than Providence. How is it similar?

As for St. Paul=Minneapolis, I don't think so. The two cities have very, very different feels and flavor. Read my original post for more info.

As for Stamford, CT, I grew up about 40 minutes from Stamford, and I still have no idea exactly what it is... Big train station? Corporate HQ central? A dense suburb that happens to qualify for city status? All of the above? I have no idea, but I know it's nothing like Providence.

- Garris

In that case, since being on top of another major metropolitan city isn't an issue. How about Alexandria VA?

King St & Duke St = Thayer St / Westminster, depending which part of King or Duke you're on

tons of culture & art: arguably more than DC itself (unless you count Congress as theatre)

very similar population size

very similar population demographics

very similar total mileage size

city core around Old Town, with high rises at the western end of Old Town (Time Life's buildings)

developed around the same time as Providence

originally based on water trade

very recent revitalization of core (Old Town has quadrupled in size over the past decade, lots of expensive townhouses going up on the waterfront)

mass transit primarily by bus (not DCs bus system either); Amtrak has a stop for regionals here

very different feel from DC itself: Alexandria is a "Southern" city. DC is not.

Bisected by I-95

on-going "big city" problems: homeless, attracting business investment, unemployment, parks, education, gangs

Lots of really cool & historical buildings

great parks (ok, I'm including the National Park Service's parks on this)

lots of different neighborhoods: hipsters in Del Ray, urban core in Old Town, suburban-like living in West End, under developed Belhaven.. each of which have multiple areas in them.

The only thing Alexandria doesn't have is colleges. It has a seminary. But then, Richmond doesn't have much in the way of colleges either.

Honestly, I don't like Philly. Please don't tell me Providence is like Philly. I hate Philly. Its a visceral reaction. So far, I like Providence. :D

Traz

(reference note. I lived in Wisconsin for 18 years. I lived in Alexandria for 2. DH lived in Philly while we were dating for 3 years, so I spent a lot of time there. Favorite US city: Chicago, without a question. )

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Honestly, I don't like Philly. Please don't tell me Providence is like Philly. I hate Philly. Its a visceral reaction. So far, I like Providence.

So what's so bad about Philadelphia?

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