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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2017, 10:49 PM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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Alternate history of cities

Let's talk about places that could be different and major cities. I know Cairo, Illinois gets brought up from time to time but I'll keep it local.

Imagine if there was no such thing as hurricanes or if they were no bigger than a minor tropical storm. How impressive would Galveston be today? Ignoring that the city is susceptible to sinking like New Orleans, I'd say it'd be one of the more bragged about cities on this forum and a fine piece of urbanity.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2017, 11:17 PM
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Any number of cities could have become the Gulf oil capital - Galveston, Corpus Christi, Mobile, New Orleans. New Orleans was in an especially good position at the mouth of the longest navigable river in North America. It could have become a major seaport and business capital.
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Old Posted Jul 29, 2017, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
Let's talk about places that could be different and major cities. I know Cairo, Illinois gets brought up from time to time but I'll keep it local.

Imagine if there was no such thing as hurricanes or if they were no bigger than a minor tropical storm. How impressive would Galveston be today? Ignoring that the city is susceptible to sinking like New Orleans, I'd say it'd be one of the more bragged about cities on this forum and a fine piece of urbanity.
well as long were talking about texas, im still waiting for the urban revival or corpus christi. that seems like a no brainer to me, but maybe its kind of remote for mass population gain. but its got a pretty setting and a diversified-ish economy. not sure what it would take to make things ramp up into high gear.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 12:37 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Any number of cities could have become the Gulf oil capital - Galveston, Corpus Christi, Mobile, New Orleans. New Orleans was in an especially good position at the mouth of the longest navigable river in North America. It could have become a major seaport and business capital.
No it was that, then declined over the last 100 years. Like Galveston, it's a victim of bad geology/geography. That and corruption.

And besides, I'm not talking about an industry, I'm talking about the cityscape and urbanity.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 12:52 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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well as long were talking about texas, im still waiting for the urban revival or corpus christi. that seems like a no brainer to me, but maybe its kind of remote for mass population gain. but its got a pretty setting and a diversified-ish economy. not sure what it would take to make things ramp up into high gear.
If Corpus has a future, it's as San Antonio's port. It too has the tools but for whatever reason never grew to anything more than a regional outpost.

If not for hurricanes, Galveston would at least be New Orleans and given it's proximity to Houston, it'd likely be a Raleigh-Durham combo of some type.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:52 AM
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Seems like Corpus Christi's proximity to Mexico would have resulted in it being a bigger metro. It's proximity to Padre Island, which has pretty nice beaches and water, probably is a big reason why it's even as big as it is (tourist industry). I realize it has a port (don't know much about it).

Corpus' climate is better than Houston and Galveston's. It doesn't rain nearly as much, is sunnier, and is not subject to as many cold spells in winter as the upper coast.

Maybe hurricanes have inhibited its growth? There have been some really bad ones down there.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 5:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
If Corpus has a future, it's as San Antonio's port. It too has the tools but for whatever reason never grew to anything more than a regional outpost.

If not for hurricanes, Galveston would at least be New Orleans and given it's proximity to Houston, it'd likely be a Raleigh-Durham combo of some type.
Corpus GDP among the fastest growing in the state in recent years. I am not sure why, but the economy there seems to be doing very well. I thought it was just a small port (turns out it is 10th in the nation in terms of tonnage handled) and a refinery town with a fair amount of retirees moving into the area. Also there is a lot of crime and gang violence in Corpus. It's a mixed bag. Some people love it; others can't wait to get out.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 5:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
Let's talk about places that could be different and major cities. I know Cairo, Illinois gets brought up from time to time but I'll keep it local.

Imagine if there was no such thing as hurricanes or if they were no bigger than a minor tropical storm. How impressive would Galveston be today? Ignoring that the city is susceptible to sinking like New Orleans, I'd say it'd be one of the more bragged about cities on this forum and a fine piece of urbanity.
Cairo IL at the junction of the Ohio & Miss. Rivers was intended to be a major city, but unfortunately they didn't take into account frequent flooding of the rivers and the levees were just too low. The rebuilding just became to frequent & expensive so the place essentially stagnated. The land area was also too small. Maybe OK for a 19th century city, but just too small for future growth. Also, river commerce was to some extent supplanted by railroads. Keokuk IA has a similar history as a city founded to command river commerce, that never developed to the size expected. Hannibal MO is more successful, because of the Twain connection & because they secured some rail lines.

LA, a sleepy pueblo before the 1880s, became the monster it did because of shrewd advertising & promotion (largely by railroads) in the late 19th & early 20th centuries, and because of success in securing water from the Owens & Colorado Rivers in the early 20th century. Before Arizona & Florida, the LA area (especially Pasadena) was a winter playground & retirement center for the wealthy and not so wealthy. Vast oil fields were also discovered under the LA basin. Then the movies found that they could film all year, aerospace moved in, and the rest is history.

Miami (& Florida in general) was also a product of shrewd real estate promotion by builders and railroads in the early 20th century. Air conditioning (introduced in early 20th century for commercial buildings, expanded to homes in 1940s-50s) helped. Same for Arizona & Texas & much of So. US. Hard to imagine living in these hot places in June-Sept. without AC. Thank you Mr. Carrier!

Last edited by CaliNative; Jul 30, 2017 at 6:11 AM.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 5:58 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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Hurricanes hurt but I just think Corpus never grew to what it could be.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 6:15 AM
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Hurricanes hurt but I just think Corpus never grew to what it could be.
They should hire some shrewd advertising people. Dan Draper types. Corpus could become another retirement center. Unlike Phoenix, they do have beaches. I don't think it reaches 120 degrees like Phoenix, does it? The only catch is it is way down in south Texas, kind of off the beaten path. But so was Las Vegas. Hey....CASINOS! That's the ticket!
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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 6:31 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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Another thing to consider is what if New York never became what it did? Would Boston, Chicago or Philadelphia be the primary city? I say Boston would have been because of how close it was to shipping from Europe, both for trade and immigration. Rather than the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence and Niagara River would have been the primary way goods got to the Midwest.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 8:16 AM
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What if the Quiet Revolution didn't happen? Would Quebec just be a late-blooming Louisiana? The corollary being that Montreal would've likely remained Canada's largest city and how would that have looked? Toronto wasn't that much smaller than Montreal, but it likely would've remained somewhat more provincial.

What if Toronto hadn't put a moratorium on apartments and "aesthetically" multifamily before WWII? Would it be like the Northeast Corridor and Quebec, lined with Victorian Bay-and-Gable rowhomes and apartment blocks? What if it surpassed Montreal earlier?

What if the Maritimes didn't decline post-Confederation vis-a-vis Central Canada? What if Halifax remained a major city, perhaps with over a million, maybe two, today? What if Saint John hadn't declined and remained the prime city for New Brunswick?

What if Newfoundland never joined Canada?

What if Quebec separated in 1980?

What if the head offices all concentrated in Edmonton (or stayed here, more accurately) instead of Calgary, and Edmonton remained the larger of the two, and Calgary perhaps no larger than K-W or Halifax today, with Edmonton perhaps close to Vancouver in population?

What if the entire Fraser Valley, down to Mt Vernon WA, was apart of Canada? Would Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack have been so stringent on density control? Would it's housing issues be more fixable? Or what if Vancouver was simply more ok with building density in single-family neighbourhoods, not just on major transit and vehicle corridors? It would alleviate pressure for sure.

What if the Alaska Boundary dispute was settled in BC's favour?

What if the Klondike Gold Rush lasted a few more years?

What if Winnipeg never declined after the General Strike and was still the largest and most important city on the Prairies?

What if Northern Ontario wasn't difficult Canadian Shield geology, and more like Southern Manitoba, more arable?
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  #13  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 8:26 AM
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What would a lot of cities be like if the automobile revolution and then interstate highways didn't happen as they did? And then suburbs didn't explode in the same way (of course, suburbs would probably still exist to some extent), resulting in more folks living in the inner cities - as the norm...? Nothing against cars, but I'm specifically thinking of the Interstate Highway system and the overwhelming development of controlled access freeways throughout the U.S. and other countries (but specifically the U.S. post WWII).
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  #14  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:07 PM
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cairo just wasnt going to happen, st. louis and geography wouldnt (and didnt) let it happen.

the entire timeline of montreal as primate city of canada thing fascinates me. i don't really know what to say about it that is right or wrong, but thinking of it as a place with 7-8-9 million people is satisfying.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:14 PM
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Another thing to consider is what if New York never became what it did? Would Boston, Chicago or Philadelphia be the primary city? I say Boston would have been because of how close it was to shipping from Europe, both for trade and immigration. Rather than the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence and Niagara River would have been the primary way goods got to the Midwest.
thats a really good one, too. the lack of new york power would have had ripple effects across the midwest and beyond. the ohio and mid mississippi valley would have benefitted (or not lost their slices of pie) i suppose. chicago not being pumped full of nyc wealth would have meant that the western railroads heading out of chicago would not have overtaken the more poorly, locally financed st. louis railroads. the resources of the great lakes would not have brought mega-wealth to chicago/nyc. things may not have been invented as quickly. st. louis would have extracted wealth from the mines and forests of the ozarks much more quickly and made a lot more people wealthy in missouri.

dont forget that the mississippi/missouri/ohio valley was how a huge portion of the midwest was connected to other areas. new orleans orobably would have benefitted (for a bit longer until st. louis built out its eastern and western rail links) by a stronger st. louis via a weaker chicago/nyc. a stronger philadelphia/mid atlantic position, too. the mid atlantic was tied into the ohio/mississippi river valley, so no nyc would have been a good thing. philadelphia likely would be the big city on the east coast. i wish i knew bostons trading networks into the midwest, i know that the city had a hand in both st. louis and (i presume) chicago. a lot of the prominent families of st. louis had new england connections/history like burroughs/eliot/etc. think washington university.

cincinnati and certainly pittsburgh also wouldnt have been stunted as much, and likely would've been much larger without nyc/chicago. not to mention milwaukee almost certainly would have taken a much larger piece of pie!
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Last edited by Centropolis; Jul 30, 2017 at 2:34 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:30 PM
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the united states had redundant, competing "city systems" and hinterlands, taking one important piece out in any place has cascading effects when thinking about these things.

excuse my rambling, these things excite me. but yeah, montreal.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:45 PM
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New Orleans was in an especially good position at the mouth of the longest navigable river in North America. It could have become a major seaport and business capital.
well, new orleans did become a major seaport and capital of all kinds. it did all of these things as the number 3 city. new orleans was also tapped into the motherlode wealth of the "west" and midwest for a while. see above for alternate timeline.

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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 2:56 PM
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come at me alt timeline bro! *blows rails over 19th century rail maps*



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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 3:06 PM
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well, new orleans did become a major seaport and capital of all kinds. it did all of these things as the number 3 city. new orleans was also tapped into the motherlode wealth of the "west" and midwest for a while. see above for alternate timeline.
It's a shame it couldn't hang on to that position to the present day. It would have been a far more interesting city than others that took its place. Railroads really spelled the end for the Mississippi trade networks.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2017, 3:13 PM
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It's a shame it couldn't hang on to that position to the present day. It would have been a far more interesting city than others that took its place. Railroads really spelled the end for the Mississippi trade networks.
i really wish that i was far more familiar with the history of new orleans. i read a lengthy tome in college but was drunk for most of the book. i am guessing that new orleans was actively building its own rail links like the other river cities, but was almost certainly even more dominated by its entrenched river trade factions than other mississippi/ohio valley cities and suffered from a massive lack of outside investment (unlike say chicago or los angeles, which were supercharged by it). obviously the geography surrounding new orleans was as bad as it gets for building railroads...so barring some kind of catastrophe that gave new orleans back the entire mississippi valley the prospect for massive growth continuing was bleak.

both new orleans and st. louis old business families/community suffered from an entrenched laziness from generations of business opportunities literally falling at their feet from the river, and no real nearby rivals (until chicago for st. louis). st. louis and new orleans sort of enabled each other in this respect until the end of the 19th century, probably longer until the depression, world war two when the old wharf/river warehouse area of st. louis was taken down. the connections to new orleans were quite sclerotic by then, and the influence of the old creole familes of st. louis had been in severe decline for a couple generations.

simply put, without the midwest and the linchpin at st. louis, new orleans was hobbled. the lower mississppi valley simply was not developed nor wealthy enough to maintain the previous influence/power/wealth of new orleans whose catchment basin had stretched from pennsylvania to the foot of the northern rockies. new orleans is of course viewed through the lens of the south, now, but it was built as a continental city and seat of power.
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Last edited by Centropolis; Jul 30, 2017 at 3:31 PM.
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