Cool suburbs — or cool small cities?


New Urban Network

Yahoo has a travel article called “Coolest Suburbs Worth a Visit” that makes the contrarian argument that suburbs are becoming cool. It lists 10 supposedly cool suburbs across the US.

Only trouble is that seven of the ten suburbs are incorporated cities — Evanston, Illinois: Lakewood, Ohio; Bellevue, Washington; Roswell, Georgia; Alameda, California; Birmingham, Michigan; and Ashland, Oregon. Bellevue became a city most recently — in 1953. Of the three remaining, one is a town, West Hartford, Connecticut, and another is a township, Montclair, New Jersey — both have the density and street grids of small, traditional cities.

So what we have here are mostly historically urban places — they just don’t happen to be central cities in metropolitan areas. So the suburbs are becoming cool — to the extent that they have small cities in their midst. Yahoo apparently couldn’t find many cool places among the automobile-oriented suburbs that have been built in the last 65 years and that make up most of the US metropolitan land area.

The one exception on the list is The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. This sprawling master-planned community attracts a lot of young people. But in Houston, there’s not a lot of competition for coolest, hippest place.