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  #41  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 6:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Handro View Post
Any place that has some downtown density+METRA station is usually a sure bet for at least a couple good restaurants and some interesting pre-war architecture.

here's a post i made awhile ago showing all of the pre-war railroad town centers in chicagoland:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
^ here are some of the old railroad suburb town centers in chicagoland, organized by metra line.

i've only done the 8 old school commuter rail lines. the newer NCS, SWS and HC metra lines don't really have historic town centers built-up around their stations, for obvious reasons.



UP-N:

main street
downtown evanston
central street
wilmette
winnetka
glencoe
highland park
highwood
lake forest
waukegan
zion
kenosha



MD-N:

morton grove
glenview
northbrook
deerfield
libertyville
round lake



UP-NW:

park ridge
des plaines
mt. prospect
arlington heights
palatine
barrington
crystal lake
woodstock



MD-W:

elmwood park
bensenville
itasca
roselle
bartlett
elgin


UP-W:

oak park
maywood
melrose park
elmhurst
lombard
glen ellyn
wheaton
geneva



BNSF:

berwyn
riverside
brookfield
lagrange
western srpings
hinsdale
clarendon hills
westmont
downers grove
naperville
aurora



RI:

blue island
midlothian
tinley park
mokena
joliet



ME:

harvey
homewood
flossmoor
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  #42  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 6:48 PM
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maplewood, mo would be another favorite of mine, and another pre-war suburb (rail serviced) ive lived in:


explorestlouis.com


apartments.com
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  #43  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 7:16 PM
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In Canada, Westmount is the best "suburb" hands down - it's about as suburban as Brookline.
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  #44  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 7:18 PM
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Originally Posted by LosAngelesSportsFan View Post
This is an excellent run down. I agree completely with everything you said
Newport and Huntington have their strengths as well. I don't go there often, but they're fun.


As no one said Long Beach? Does it count?
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  #45  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 7:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Obadno View Post
Probably Gilbert and Scottsdale.

They are just really nice, I would raise family in such places.
I liked Tempe, at least near the train station. Cool place.
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  #46  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 7:31 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
This is a great snapshot. The more time I spend touring these Metra burbs the more impressed I am with what this region has.

I'm especially kind of interested in these old Fox River towns like Elgin, Aurora, St Charles, etc. I have yet to see them in person but they seem to have a lot of "urban bones" worth exploring.

My only beef with Aurora and Naperville's commercial cores is that they are a bit of a hike from their respective Metra Stations. If only their stations could've been just adjacent to their downtowns, as is the case with most of the other commuter burbs, the synergy would be that much better.
I grew up in St. Charles so I'm very familiar with them all. Elgin is by far the most interesting as far as "urban bones" go, IMO; between the downtown area and the Victorian style mansions. Geneva is what St. Charles aspires to be--a good amount of walkability for a town its size and very well maintained. It's definitely worth a day trip if you're after some old fashioned quaintness. It reminds me a bit of Chicago's Lincoln Square spread out over an entire town. St. Charles is actually doing some work to build more downtown density beyond the strip on Main Street. Batavia is another--some cool limestone buildings downtown (although pretty small sample size) and 19th century SFHs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
here's a post i made awhile ago showing all of the pre-war railroad town centers in chicagoland:
Wow this is really cool! I've actually tried to find a comprehensive list like this before when I've been bored and looking to see a new suburb (worth seeing) that I'd never been to before. I'll be checking back this fall when I'm in the mood to kill an afternoon exploring!

Last edited by Handro; Sep 16, 2019 at 7:44 PM.
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  #47  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 8:40 PM
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Originally Posted by LA21st View Post
Newport and Huntington have their strengths as well. I don't go there often, but they're fun.


As no one said Long Beach? Does it count?
I love Long Beach, lived there for many years, and would live again. I just don’t consider it a suburb.

Last edited by ChrisLA; Sep 17, 2019 at 12:09 AM.
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  #48  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 10:10 PM
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Hmm. In KC nothing really stands out.
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  #49  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
For Chicago:

Leaving aside the town where I reside (Libertyville), my choice would be Oak Park, IL.

I’m guessing a lot of Chicago forumers would say Evanston (my number 2 choice), but Evanston is too ritzy, North Shore-y to me, and the skyline just seems generic.

Oak Park feels more grainy, has more charm to me, more comfortable and has the right amount of luxury without seeming snooty. Plus it’s building a lot of skyscrapers.

I would live there if I had to live in another suburb.
Given that Oak Park and Evanston both directly border Chicago and are accessible via CTA, I'll go a bit further out and say Elmhurst. Great walkable downtown core, a good number of historic buildings, and new construction galore due to the Metra station smack dab in the center of town.

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #50  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
Given that Oak Park and Evanston both directly border Chicago and are accessible via CTA, I'll go a bit further out and say Elmhurst.
yeah, evanston and oak park's status as "suburbs" is really only a quirk of history.

both municipalities rejected efforts by chicago to annex them in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. in fact, in one of the evanston referendums, the city's annexation bid lost by only 7 votes. had just 4 of those people voted the other way, we wouldn't be talking about "evanston the suburb", we'd be talking about "evanston the city neighborhood".

evanston and oak park are definitely a sort of middle ground in so many ways.
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  #51  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
This is a great snapshot. The more time I spend touring these Metra burbs the more impressed I am with what this region has.

I'm especially kind of interested in these old Fox River towns like Elgin, Aurora, St Charles, etc. I have yet to see them in person but they seem to have a lot of "urban bones" worth exploring.

My only beef with Aurora and Naperville's commercial cores is that they are a bit of a hike from their respective Metra Stations. If only their stations could've been just adjacent to their downtowns, as is the case with most of the other commuter burbs, the synergy would be that much better.
I agree totally about Naperville. It's actually got a VERY nice downtown core, full of residential, retail and office, generally very pedestrian friendly, nice inclusion of some historic buildings into what essentially has become a big new urbanist development integrated into the existing city street grid.

Schaumburg is a lost cause for sprawlsville. Haven't had a chance to check out Aurora yet, but Elgin definitely has great historic bones in its downtown core.

Still think Elmhurst is the best outside of Oak Park and Evanston, though. Haha

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #52  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
Still think Elmhurst is the best outside of Oak Park and Evanston, though. Haha

Aaron (Glowrock)
^ I don't know, there are so many contenders for #3, to be honest.

I think in the next 20 years we will see a true #3 emerge from the pack. It would have to be in the right location, obviously, as well as having the right kind of political climate where maybe people are willing to give more density a chance. I don't think it will be Naperville or any of the North Shore burbs, but some town somewhere that's not Evanston or Oak Park will cave in to the inevitable push towards more density.

My guess is that it will be Arlington Heights
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  #53  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2019, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Docere View Post
In Canada, Westmount is the best "suburb" hands down - it's about as suburban as Brookline.
It's a suburb by municipal standards, but is it really an actual suburb? It's eastern border is 2km from the middle of downtown...

If we count it, then yes it's probably one of the nicest, if not the nicest suburb in Canada.


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  #54  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 12:51 PM
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Hmm. In KC nothing really stands out.
I hate to say it, but if I lived in metro KC but didn't live in KCMO, NE JoCo is about the only area that i'd be interested in, the part that is closer/better connected to the urban core of kc than most missouri suburbs, since the street grid plugs right in. For the audience at home that is KANSAS. I've never been interested in long/bridge commutes.
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  #55  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 2:08 PM
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I actually find Rosedale in Toronto, equal if not nicer than Westmount.
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  #56  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 2:12 PM
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For Columbus, Grandview Heights.
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  #57  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 2:24 PM
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Originally Posted by PFloyd View Post
I actually find Rosedale in Toronto, equal if not nicer than Westmount.
But its not a real suburb.

If we included the inner suburbs. Toronto has a lot really nice street car suburbs.

The problem is that the nice villages that dot the outer Toronto suburbs were swallowed up to form large municipalities and now form a near contiguous sprawl between them.
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  #58  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 2:35 PM
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Pittsburgh has so many suburbs... in Allegheny County alone, there are 130(!)... pretty ridiculous. Many(most) of them are not suburbs in the traditional sense; rather were steel/industrial towns which grew right along with Pittsburgh and have all grown together, but because of the region's insane topography, they maintain separate identities. Many of the further flung, towns on the rivers are ROUGH, having decayed for the past 40 years. But many of the more centrally-located ones basically function as City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, with many being situated much closer to the inner core of the city than areas of city proper.

The usual suspects for most desirable suburb include:

- Mount Lebanon in the South Hills (#73 on the below map). Early streetcar suburb, affluent, but still relatively affordable, top schools, beautiful brick and stone tudor homes of all sizes, leafy, hilly, but highly walkable, with nice business districts with good restaurants, shops, etc. An urban-lite Shangri-La, if you will. I get it, it's very nice, but it's just a little too "perfect" (and too white) and too separated from the city for my tastes, even though it borders two southern city neighborhoods, and has direct access to Downtown via light rail.

- Sewickley/Edgeworth/Osborne in the Ohio Valley (#100/#35/#84). Generally, just referred to as Sewickley. Wealthy, exclusive, Main Line Philly-ish, old money, mansions, but also smaller homes, somewhat racially diverse due to nearby blue-collar river towns, and having the same as above Mt. Lebanon amenities, but no light rail. Much too far for me (~12-15 miles from downtown) and no good transit options.

- Aspinwall/Fox Chapel in the Allegheny Valley (#2/#44). Fox Chapel is 2nd wealthiest municipality in Pennsylvania. Very suburban with country clubs and estates, old money. Its "downtown" is Aspinwall... small upper middle class enclave on the river, big, tightly-packed Victorian homes, brick streets, a few good restaurants, shops, very compact and walkable, basically an extension of the city's East End neighborhoods/good access, more racially and economically diverse, decent bus transit service, top schools, etc, etc.



My favorite, however, is Sharpsburg (#104), aka The Sharps, aka Ketchup City (where Heinz was founded). Funky, gritty, old blue-collar river town. Racially diverse. Intact Main Street now home to two newer breweries (incl. Dancing Gnome, one of the best in the US), a new distillery, new art gallery, new coffee shop, now part of an EcoDistrict... it's coming. Best location on the river in the core, rivefront park expansion and bike trails connecting to downtown u/c. Just across river from city neighborhoods Highland Park and Upper Lawrenceville... connected via Highland Park and 62nd Street Bridges. Close access to city's East End neighborhoods (Pittsburgh is East End-centric) and easy drive or bus to Downtown. Functions as a city neighborhood, but has its own small town vibe.







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  #59  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 3:04 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
^ I don't know, there are so many contenders for #3, to be honest.
yeah, after evanston and oak park, i don't see a clear #3 in chicagoland either.

i mean, elmhurst is certainly in the next tier down, and a fine enough place for what it is, but does it clearly stand above downers grove, highland park, naperville, park ridge, des plaines, arlington heights, lagrange, hinsdale, glen ellyn, geneva, wheaton, etc?

i don't think so.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Sep 17, 2019 at 3:14 PM.
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  #60  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2019, 3:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
yeah, after evanston and oak park, i don't see a clear #3 in chicagoland either.

i mean, elmhurst is certainly in the next tier down, and a fine enough place for what it is, but does it clearly stand above downers grove, highland park, naperville, park ridge, des plaines, arlington heights, lagrange, hinsdale, glen ellyn, geneva, wheaton, etc?

i don't think so.
Agreed. I do like Elmhurst but the actual walkable downtown is considerably smaller than some of those you listed. It does have some nice, quintessential American suburban leafy residential streets--but so does Geneva, Park Ridge, Naperville, etc.

I think the tiers look like this:

1. Oak Park/Evanston
2. Elmhursts (walkable downtown, a least a moderate selection of local businesses, interesting housing stock)
3. Schaumburgs (extremely auto-centric, cookie cuttetr strip malls, housing stock made entirely of subdivisions built between 1965-2005)
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