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monsoon

Boutique Cities

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This Article that appeared on our portal this weekend that talks about Kamakura, Japan. I have to admit it is one of the most lovely cities that I have ever visited. It's 100% walkable and accessable by transit, its clean, and in a beautiful setting. In the article they called this place a Boutique City.

My question for this topic, is what exactly is a Boutique City and do we have any examples of this in the United States. (or elsewhere that you might like to discuss).

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I'm tempted to name Banff, Canada. But you can't really live there unless you work for the park service or the hotels, and it isn't close enough to commute to Calgary.

Victoria might qualify. It has the scenery, and amenities of a real town, and is a quick "getaway" from Vancouver.

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Petosky, MI, seems to come to mind. It has a nice compact and walkable artsy DT filled with specialty shops, tons of art galleries, and quint dinning establishments. Little Traverse Bay, boating and water sports opportunities, and a number of things to see and do make this city a regional tourist trap. Also the wealthy have summer homes here as well.

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I can think of several such places, but none of this scale. From what I've read about Portland (OR) it seems to be the closest major example to be aspiring to this model -- at least in my mind, it gives the impression of being a major city that isn't afraid of looking a little bit "cute" in order to have things like good mass transit, and to limit growth in ways it deems desirable.

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I'm still a little fuzzy on the precise definition of "boutique city," but a few places immediately spring to mind: Blowing Rock NC & Santa Fe NM.

As for larger cities, I can think of a few places that are almosts: Savannah, Asheville, Athens could all evolve into this kind of city, but not yet.

Kamakura - I may be getting my cities mixed up, but if memory serves the legendary filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) lived there for most of his life, and set/filmed many of his films there; Early Summer (Bakushu) in particular has some brief but lovely views of the city...

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I think of boutique cities as cities with expensive hotels, a thriving art scene and top rated restaurants. The following cities come to mind when I think of boutique cities:

Washington, DC

San Francisco, CA

Las Angeles, CA

Increasingly Las Vegas, NV

New York, NY

Miami, FL

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I think of boutique cities as cities with expensive hotels, a thriving art scene and top rated restaurants. The following cities come to mind when I think of boutique cities:

Washington, DC

San Francisco, CA

Las Angeles, CA

Increasingly Las Vegas, NV

New York, NY

Miami, FL

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I would think all of those things, but would add a few others: a well-maintained natural environment (it doesn't have to be dramatic scenery, it simply needs to know and be able to preserve whatever is unique about the physical qualities of their location), a distinct personality, and a good grip on social problems/inequities/issues (crime, drugs, violence, blighted areas, corruption, et. al.) - this is why I had some reservations about my first-thought cities.

By these standards a "boutique city" need not be a huge city, or an "international" city even - the attributes of the regional cities I mentioned are not quite so internationally famous, though midsized Santa Fe and Asheville both have highly enviable (and fairly famous) arts reputations. A city of 50,000 would definitely qualify, if they really have their act together.

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When I think of "Boutique" I don't think of large cities. If you said you were going shopping at a boutique store you wouldn't think of Macy's or Filene's or some big department store, you'd think of a small, personal specialty shop. My definition of a boutique city would be a city that has a personal feel and a common theme to the architecture and style throughout.

Cities that I've been to that I would consider "Boutique" would be: Lennox, MA; Rockport, MA; Bar Harbor, ME; all of Martha's Vineyard but especially Edgartown; Newport, RI; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; Alexandria, VA.

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When I think of "Boutique" I don't think of large cities. If you said you were going shopping at a boutique store you wouldn't think of Macy's or Filene's or some big department store, you'd think of a small, personal specialty shop. My definition of a boutique city would be a city that has a personal feel and a common theme to the architecture and style throughout.

Cities that I've been to that I would consider "Boutique" would be: Lennox, MA; Rockport, MA; Bar Harbor, ME; all of Martha's Vineyard but especially Edgartown; Newport, RI; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; Alexandria, VA.

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A defining characteristic of "boutique" is small - a large city really cannot be a boutique city.

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Laguna Beach, CA. is a lovely, artsy village that is completely walkable. The setting is unbelievable, the village is nestled in seaside hills. Laguna is not part of the LA/OC megalopolis. It is separated by nature preserves. Not chain stores or malls. This is a true boutique city.

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Laguna Beach, CA. is a lovely, artsy village that is completely walkable. The setting is unbelievable, the village is nestled in seaside hills. Laguna is not part of the LA/OC megalopolis. It is separated by nature preserves. Not chain stores or malls. This is a true boutique city.

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A defining characteristic of "boutique" is small - a large city really cannot be a boutique city.

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Saugatuck / Douglass, Michigan is another true boutique city.

http://www.saugatuck.com/

The twin towns have a population of under 3000

Median family income of $64,583

Many art galleries and bistros.

Totally walkable

Many Bed & Breakfast choices

Yacht clubs

Film festivals

Carmel by the Sea, CA

http://www.carmelcalifornia.com/

Population 4081

Median family income of $58,163

Artsy fartsy

And, I believe that Palm Springs, CA would also qualify.

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Ketchikan, Alaska is a very nice town in extreme SE Alaska, population 8,000. Totally walkable, touristy, fishing village with no road access:

Seaplane.jpg

7-14Ketchikan20.jpg

7-14Ketchikan18.jpg

Natchitoches, LA is the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase, NW LA, pop. 19,000. Steel Magnolias was filmed here. It has a totally walkable core, a strong sense of historicity, and is a college town with a very youthful vibe:

vfiles8711.jpg

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