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  #61  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:54 PM
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After spending several days in North Myrtle Beach, visiting Charleston was a godsend (I was also born in Ohio, so take that for what it's worth) which might be why I was so impressed with the city when I visited. My dad and I had the bright idea to do a walking tour in the middle of July. Coming from Arizona where the humidity rarely gets above 30% aside from the monsoon season, it was a bit of a shock.
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  #62  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
To be fair, most of Charleston doesn't look like that. Rowhouses and things like them are basically limited to the French Quarter and nearby areas (unlike Savannah, where they are more common). The built vernacular across most of the peninsula neighborhoods is detached wood frame houses. Honestly, it reminds me a lot of some of the older residential neighborhoods in New England.
Charleston reminds me of New England as well...and Key West; Savannah and New Orleans have more in common. The mossy trees, the architecture, etc..

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NOLA MSA has 1.27 million (and barely growing), Charleston MSA has 787k (and growing like gangbusters). So, yeah, NOLA is bigger (and feels much bigger), but they'll probably have comparable populations within 20 years or so.

And I agree that retirees probably prefer smaller, sleepier metros, but I think Charleston also attracts a lot of Northern families.
The Carolinas are very attractive to northerners; day's drive back home and you still get the seasons. North Carolina is South New York.

Even at double the population, Charleston will probably keep it's slower pace and wind up like much of the Tamp Bay area which is also full of geriatric New Yorkers.
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  #63  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I just wonder why Charleston is such an outlier, and so endlessly praised/beloved for being different, when 98% of it looks like any other newer Sunbelt metro
Because that 2% matters much more than sheer numbers would have you believe at first sight.

90%+ of Quebec City looks like Mississauga, yet it's widely praised/beloved (and a tourist magnet), even if the UNESCO World Heritage Site core (the walled old town + the old lower town at the base of the cliff) is just ~2% of the city.

You can understand that, can you?
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  #64  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:57 PM
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The South has such a lack of walkable urban places that people really play up what they do have. To the point where people talk about the "urban bones" of Birmingham, which has a dreadful, dead downtown.
I think that's somewhat unfair and certainly outdated perception. Birmingham was a somewhat sizable and fairly industrial city in the early 20th century and has a downtown similar to the older parts of Atlanta's downtown like the Fairlie-Poplar district. Furthermore downtown Birmingham has seen a TON of investment in recent years with a lot of its historic buildings being adaptively reused along with new construction. I do agree with your overall point about the lack of older walkable areas in the South but Birmingham does have solid urban bones with a pretty solid grid system and a fair amount of preserved historic stock downtown.
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  #65  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:02 PM
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I think that's somewhat unfair and certainly outdated perception. Birmingham was a somewhat sizable and fairly industrial city in the early 20th century and has a downtown similar to the older parts of Atlanta's downtown like the Fairlie-Poplar district. Furthermore downtown Birmingham has seen a TON of investment in recent years with a lot of its historic buildings being adaptively reused along with new construction. I do agree with your overall point about the lack of older walkable areas in the South but Birmingham does have solid urban bones with a pretty solid grid system and a fair amount of preserved historic stock downtown.
It's also Alabama so it will be a little slower to develop than the more cosmopolitan metros. Glad to see they are seeing investment, full of great architecture.
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  #66  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:05 PM
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Certainly Miami, New Orleans and Savannah, and college/tourist towns like Charlottesville or Asheville. But yeah, that scene isn't common in the South. But again, it's one street, for a few blocks, with mostly mall chain stores.

And I get the appeal. There are a few residential blocks, near the Battery, that are outstanding and unique, by any standard. And there's a larger prewar area that's pretty solid. I just wonder why Charleston is such an outlier, and so endlessly praised/beloved for being different, when 98% of it looks like any other newer Sunbelt metro, and the people moving there are in typical sprawl.

Like why not Mobile, or Richmond, or Knoxville? No one from Syracuse or Dayton goes crazy for those places, and they too have a few special blocks, milder weather, and water?
98% of everywhere in the Sun Belt looks the same, so this isn't a fair criticism.

As for the differential appeal, again part of it is geographic. Northeastern transplants by and large move to only VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL. They don't transplant into the interior south. They'd never really look at a Mobile or Knoxville. I don't think either city can compare to Charleston though, because they are the typical southern "old" cities - where there's some nice buildings in a downtown few people live in, with the nearest intact residential neighborhoods basically semi-suburban in built form.

Richmond is a different story, and a very underrated city. It has a relatively big historic core, with lots of rowhouses and near-rowhouses. The Fan is an amazing collection of historic buildings. It really should get the same attention as Charleston and Savannah, but is overlooked. I guess in part because the location isn't as picturesque?
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  #67  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:10 PM
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I have never heard that before. And I literally had a class on slavery in New Orleans. Could you please link me up to something substantiating that?
Here you go, Louisiana's Code Noir from 1724: https://www.blackpast.org/african-am...ode-noir-1724/

Look at code 43 (hehe I'm glad I remember my Roman numerals).

I'm not denying that slaves in Louisiana were treated harshly. But New Orleans society developed differently than other societies in the South for the reasons I mentioned before.
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  #68  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:13 PM
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Originally Posted by KB0679 View Post
I think that's somewhat unfair and certainly outdated perception. Birmingham was a somewhat sizable and fairly industrial city in the early 20th century and has a downtown similar to the older parts of Atlanta's downtown like the Fairlie-Poplar district. Furthermore downtown Birmingham has seen a TON of investment in recent years with a lot of its historic buildings being adaptively reused along with new construction. I do agree with your overall point about the lack of older walkable areas in the South but Birmingham does have solid urban bones with a pretty solid grid system and a fair amount of preserved historic stock downtown.
Birmingham has good bones for a southern city. However, it still still sucks from an urban perspective.

I mean, here, lemme link to this shot on Justice Map. I like using that site because they have 2010 census information down to the block level, meaning you can actually see where people live and where they do not.

Look at all that nothing in the core of Birmingham - almost totally depopulated. This is bad even for a southern city core. There are some scattered blocks with population, many of the inhabited blocks only have 1-3 people.

I guess you can argue the upside is you don't need to worry about NIMBYs. But there's basically no vestige of the old, pre-1900 residential Birmingham left. The "greater downtown" is almost entirely institutional, industrial, parking lots, etc. Any commercial vitality must be entirely driven by people driving in from the suburban parts of the city.
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  #69  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Certainly Miami, New Orleans and Savannah, and college/tourist towns like Charlottesville or Asheville. But yeah, that scene isn't common in the South. But again, it's one street, for a few blocks, with mostly mall chain stores.

And I get the appeal. There are a few residential blocks, near the Battery, that are outstanding and unique, by any standard. And there's a larger prewar area that's pretty solid. I just wonder why Charleston is such an outlier, and so endlessly praised/beloved for being different, when 98% of it looks like any other newer Sunbelt metro, and the people moving there are in typical sprawl.

Like why not Mobile, or Richmond, or Knoxville? No one from Syracuse or Dayton goes crazy for those places, and they too have a few special blocks, milder weather, and water? Mobile has a really interesting core, and zero hype, plus ocean and it's just as hot.
I know I'm biased, but the Lowcountry aesthetic, which can be found all over the region, is pretty alluring. The mature oak trees draped with moss with Palmetto trees sprinkled in, historic sites, and water views in various places in the Charleston area makes for an overall attractive place along the coast. James Island, John's Island, Daniel Island, Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, etc all have that in spades, and other suburban areas aren't too far away.

Unlike the other cities you mention, Charleston has long promoted itself and been known as a tourist location, even before its modern reinvention in the 70s under former mayor Joe Riley. Knoxville is nothing like Charleston so I don't know why you mentioned it. Richmond certainly shares similarities but it's not coastal and hasn't really promoted itself in the same way as Charleston, plus it has a reputation for crime. Mobile is an interesting case as it does have an interesting historic downtown but it also razed a lot of what it had. Even still it also suffers from a lack of self-promotion. You can't underestimate the benefits of selling yourself, especially when you get some big-name companies to create lots of jobs in the region like Charleston has over the past several years (Boeing, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, etc.).
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  #70  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:18 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
98% of everywhere in the Sun Belt looks the same, so this isn't a fair criticism.

As for the differential appeal, again part of it is geographic. Northeastern transplants by and large move to only VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL. They don't transplant into the interior south. They'd never really look at a Mobile or Knoxville. I don't think either city can compare to Charleston though, because they are the typical southern "old" cities - where there's some nice buildings in a downtown few people live in, with the nearest intact residential neighborhoods basically semi-suburban in built form.

Richmond is a different story, and a very underrated city. It has a relatively big historic core, with lots of rowhouses and near-rowhouses. The Fan is an amazing collection of historic buildings. It really should get the same attention as Charleston and Savannah, but is overlooked. I guess in part because the location isn't as picturesque?
Atlanta, Charlotte, Southern Fl, etc are all vibrant areas. There's none of that in most of the interior south apart from Nashville. Unless someone had family connections, they are not going to leave one stagnant state for another.
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  #71  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:32 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Birmingham has good bones for a southern city. However, it still still sucks from an urban perspective.

I mean, here, lemme link to this shot on Justice Map. I like using that site because they have 2010 census information down to the block level, meaning you can actually see where people live and where they do not.

Look at all that nothing in the core of Birmingham - almost totally depopulated. This is bad even for a southern city core. There are some scattered blocks with population, many of the inhabited blocks only have 1-3 people.

I guess you can argue the upside is you don't need to worry about NIMBYs. But there's basically no vestige of the old, pre-1900 residential Birmingham left. The "greater downtown" is almost entirely institutional, industrial, parking lots, etc. Any commercial vitality must be entirely driven by people driving in from the suburban parts of the city.
Well Birmingham was founded after the Civil War, so there was almost no old pre-1900 residential Birmingham to begin with. But what I mean by "bones" are the structural elements, mainly the street grid and preserved historic commercial and institutional buildings (plus UAB and the convention facilities). Not sure if you've been keeping up with what's been going on down there, but there have been a ton of conversions, rehabs, as well as new infill. After Railyard Park got built and the Barons moved back to the city from the suburbs and built a new ballpark, stuff snowballed from there and it's still going strong.
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  #72  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:38 PM
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Atlanta, Charlotte, Southern Fl, etc are all vibrant areas. There's none of that in most of the interior south apart from Nashville. Unless someone had family connections, they are not going to leave one stagnant state for another.
This is true unfortunately with the biggest exceptions (outside of Nashville) being Huntsville and NW Arkansas. Even so, just as train lines correlated with migration patterns during the Great Migration, interstate routes correlate with migration patterns today. Obviously I-95 plays a big role here along with I-85, I-75, and I-77 which Northeasterners and some Mideesterners can take directly to get to coastal Southeastern states.
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  #73  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192
I haven't been to Charleston since I was like 10, and I don't remember much of it except the port... But some of the older architecture of this area reminds me of New Jersey.
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  #74  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Buckeye Native 001 View Post
After spending several days in North Myrtle Beach, visiting Charleston was a godsend (I was also born in Ohio, so take that for what it's worth) which might be why I was so impressed with the city when I visited. My dad and I had the bright idea to do a walking tour in the middle of July. Coming from Arizona where the humidity rarely gets above 30% aside from the monsoon season, it was a bit of a shock.
yea, humidity kills me when I visit Chicago or DC.
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  #75  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 9:32 PM
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I've not been to New Orleans, but based on a quick Google Street View exploration, I find its core extremely impressive in terms of the quality of its urban fabric and its geographic expanse--especially for a metro of its size (1.2 million). Charleston and Savannah don't belong in the same sentence, and neither does Miami/Miami Beach.

The French Quarter and CBD together cover 1.5 square miles. As a comparison, Chicago's Loop spans about 1.6 square miles (but like 40% of it is park space), while Boston's core (CBD, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, West End, North End) is also roughly the same size. Although this geographic area has a tiny residential population and there are spotty parts, it has fantastic bones throughout.

I personally find NO's core more impressive than that of other cities (i.e. Baltimore, Pittsburgh) that tend to get more love in the urban category simply because of Rust Belt legacies.
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  #76  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 9:36 PM
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Chicago's Loop spans about 1.6 square miles
i don't know what you were measuring, but the loop* is only 0.5 sq. miles.

(*) "the loop" defined as michigan ave, main branch, south branch, and congress
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  #77  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 9:40 PM
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  #78  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 9:44 PM
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^ gotcha.

no one in chicago would call anything south of congress part of "the loop", that's all "south loop". ditto for illinois center/lakeshore east.

and grant park is its own thing. no one would consider it part of the loop itself.

i suppose it's an example of how a city-defined community area does not align with how the word is actually used in reality.
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  #79  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 9:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
I've not been to New Orleans, but based on a quick Google Street View exploration, I find its core extremely impressive in terms of the quality of its urban fabric and its geographic expanse--especially for a metro of its size (1.2 million). Charleston and Savannah don't belong in the same sentence, and neither does Miami/Miami Beach.
Charleston and Savannah do belong in the same sentence (and often are), just not for the size of their cores. It's for the time period in which their cores developed, architecture, geography, historic significance, and their status as historic Southern ports of entry for slaves. Savannah and New Orleans both have artsy and creative flairs, eccentric personalities, and vibrant nightlife; while Charleston and New Orleans both have Caribbean-inspired architecture, distinct Black subcultures, and notable cuisines.
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  #80  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 10:25 PM
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Don't feel sorry for the Black basket-weavers; they are entrepreneurs and those baskets aren't at all cheap. The rolling joke among Black folks in SC is that they dress homely selling their wares but when it's time to go home, they drive off in their BMWs. But I always find it a bit amusing that folks are gallivanting about in a city literally built with wealth generated from the slave trade and generally don't have an issue seeing Blacks in low-wage service occupations, but it's the basket-weavers that are off-putting. Kinda reminds me of folks who get upset when they are told about slavery during plantation tours.

The city of Charleston itself (as well as North Charleston) isn't extremely conservative; Charleston County is reliably blue and relatively gay-friendly. The suburban counties are more conservative of course, as it is the South. For what it's worth, a Congressional seat in the region did unexpectedly flip from R to D in the midterm elections. And while he's nobody's liberal, one of the few Black U.S. Senators we have is from Charleston (Tim Scott).

It's true that Charleston's tourist economy is a bit more upscale than Savannah's and NOLA's and doesn't have a big nightlife element to it. It also lacks an HBCU and all of that results in a smaller Black presence in the historic downtown, but that will change somewhat with the opening of the International African American Museum which will essentially be Charleston's version of the NMAAHC in DC. Otherwise there are plenty of Black folks in the Charleston region living ordinary middle class lives, working at the Medical University of SC, Boeing, the port, or other large employers in the region. What you see in the historic downtown doesn't at all reflect what life is like on a daily basis for the average Charlestonian.
I've been to Charleston many times, and in fact, my parents are 2 of those Ohioans who are moving there (well, building a vacation home on Kiawah Island to be there part of the year). I've felt first hand the conservativeness as a queer, northern, liberal guy. One time I was riding my bike around and some redneck dude in a Clemson shirt came out and tried to tell me I needed to stop biking past his house or else he'd come back out and "things would get ugly". When I went down in 2016, there were Trump signs EVERYWHERE you looked. I've been to restaurants where I've seen local white people talk to the black staff as if it was the 1960s or something. Of course there was the shooting at the AME church in Charleston, but this is America and sadly that could have really taken place anywhere. :-(

Black people weaving baskets in and of itself isn't a big deal. But the fact that they're doing it in front of and inside the former slave market is really eerie, to me at least. It's like the complete opposite of NOLA where it seems like there is and has been tremendous mixing of races, and where the culture of NOLA is inextricably linked to black culture. In Charleston, this does not exist- or at least I've not seen it. You have black Charleston, and you have white Charleston, and there isn't much mixing or influence between the two. There are some interesting sub-cultures, to be sure. The Gullah communities that exist there are incredibly interesting, but they exist as their own thing rather than being integrated into the larger culture of the city.

I love the architecture of old Charleston. I really enjoy the trees and local plants and animals that live there. The fact that it's right on the ocean is also pretty cool, and is a positive point of differentiation from Savannah and NOLA. But in my experience, I have never felt welcome or really accepted there, whereas when I went to NOLA, I left thinking it was an incredibly special, accepting, exciting city. I could be way off, but those are my perceptions
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