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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 1:50 AM
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Small metros that punch above their weight

We discuss mid to large metros regularly but what are some small metros that punch above their weight when it comes to skyline, amenities, healthcare, cultural/ethnic diversity, etc.?

Last edited by Dariusb; Nov 16, 2019 at 6:36 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 2:23 AM
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In the midwest, the two smaller metros that immediately jump out at me for punching above their weight are Madison and Ann Arbor, not so much for their skylines, but for the higher quality urbansim found in their city cores. Of course, both being home to massive state flagship universities certainly helps on that score.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 2:25 AM
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Des Moines has a decent skyline.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 2:45 AM
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I think my metro of Wilmington punches above its weight. Technically we aren't even our own MSA, based on the Census Bureau, but Wilmington operates pretty much separately from Philadelphia and it's Pennsylvania suburbs.

Anyway, we have a good skyline for our city's size and county's size. Wilmington was/is the Credit Card Capital of the World, and the Pharmaceutical Capital of the World. A lot of people that move here from bigger cities like New York or Baltimore see Wilmington as just a few amenities away from beginning to really be on par with the bigger cities on the Bos-Wash Corridor. (Of course, who knows if we will ever catch up to those bigger cities.)

We have a lot of ethnic diversity, too. There are a lot of Chinese and Indian immigrants here, who work for the big companies. Then you have your typical mix of ethnicities that have been here for several generations: Irish, Italian, Polish, Greek, African American, etc.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 3:27 AM
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Portland (ME), Burlington (VT) and Manchester (NH)
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 5:49 AM
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New Haven, Boulder, Madison, Burlington
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 6:45 AM
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Portland (ME), Burlington (VT) and Manchester (NH)
Beat me to it. Sans skylines of course. Portland in particular feels substantially larger than it is when you're in the middle of Old Port on a busy day. You can add Bangor (ME) to the surprisingly-robust smaller New England metros.

Rochester, Minnesota always struck me as impressive, but I'm not sure how much of that is the Mayo Clinic. Never actually been there.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 10:52 AM
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Hartford, CT has an impressive skyline for a smaller metro area, and of course is an important insurance center and the state capital.

Sioux Falls, SD has a diversified economy and has an increasing financial presense (many credit card companies have operations there). Skyline not that impressive though.

Boise ID is a smaller metro area with rapid growth and probably a much bigger future. Lots of Californians are moving there to the chagrin of locals, driving up housing costs.

The Reno-Carson City NV area have a bright future. Reno has now diversified its economy away from gaming, and Carson City is growing rapidly and diversifying away from government jobs.

Pittsburgh PA, a medium sized metro area, punches aboves its weight as a corporate and education center. Nice skyline too.

Last edited by CaliNative; Nov 16, 2019 at 11:06 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 11:37 AM
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For western Canada it’s Victoria.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 2:35 PM
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I remember a similar thread awhile back.
Anyways, the entire metro of Calgary is still south of 1.5 million and so it's still relatively small in the grand scheme. Having said that, I think it has the most impressive skyline for any similar sized metro I've seen. It's very diverse and well serviced too from what I understand. Also, check out Vancouver..Larger and may not qualify as smaller metro but amazing skyline for a metro essentially the size of Pittsburgh. While Vancouver may not be isolated, Calgary is fairly isolated. I sometimes wonder if this has anything to do with cities having that extra "punch" factor.

Last edited by Razor; Nov 16, 2019 at 3:12 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 3:23 PM
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Maybe Hartford? It's dismissed as a stagnant, boring pit-stop between NYC and Boston (which is all true), but Hartford is also one of the richest metros in the U.S. with really nice suburbs, excellent schools, strong cultural institutions and very hilly, rocky, scenic landscape.

And RE is dirt-cheap for the NE corridor, and you now finally have commuter rail to Grand Central. You could do worse.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 3:39 PM
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Maybe Hartford? It's dismissed as a stagnant, boring pit-stop between NYC and Boston (which is all true), but Hartford is also one of the richest metros in the U.S. with really nice suburbs, excellent schools, strong cultural institutions and very hilly, rocky, scenic landscape.

And RE is dirt-cheap for the NE corridor, and you now finally have commuter rail to Grand Central. You could do worse.
Bring back the Hartford Whalers!

I honestly find that fascinating about U.S cities..Before they had that NHL team I honestly never heard of Hartford, yet it's a million+ Metro.
Because Canada is small, there are less secrets when it comes to cities. Anything over 100,000 is heard of. Larger countries have more to discover when it comes to that.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 4:00 PM
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Fayetteville, Ark; Billings, MT; Fargo, ND; Topeka, KS?
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 4:37 PM
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Akron, Dayton, Toledo, all three are Ohio cities that sit in the shadows of more prominent 3- Cs Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Each one of them are powerhouses in business, culture, and commerce. They each also have above average vintage downtowns.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 4:39 PM
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I would not agree that Toledo has an "above average downtown" except perhaps by number of prewar office buildings relative to size.

Downtown Toledo looks like it were hit by a neutron bomb.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 5:01 PM
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Grand Rapids struck me as surprisingly large when I was there recently. It's metro is about 1,000,000, but that includes some suburbs which are a bit of a stretch to include (Muskegon / Holland). It's effectively more like 700,000.

Agreed on Calgary, it feels massive compared to it's metro population. The downtown isn't quite as busy as a larger city, but the skyline certianly matches a city more so double to triple it's size.

I think it has to do with it's role as the business headquarters for Canada's oil industry and it's associated highly concentrated downtonwn employment focus. It's much more of a white collar city than Edmonton, and most of the jobs are downtown.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 5:29 PM
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Akron, Dayton, Toledo, all three are Ohio cities that sit in the shadows of more prominent 3- Cs Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Each one of them are powerhouses in business, culture, and commerce. They each also have above average vintage downtowns.
LOL...lets just say the visual of Toledos skyline is somewhat very impressive compared to cities its size. I heard it looked like an atom bomb, or cluster bombs hit it, but a neutron bomb...wow.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 5:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere View Post
Grand Rapids struck me as surprisingly large when I was there recently. It's metro is about 1,000,000, but that includes some suburbs which are a bit of a stretch to include (Muskegon / Holland). It's effectively more like 700,000.

Agreed on Calgary, it feels massive compared to it's metro population. The downtown isn't quite as busy as a larger city, but the skyline certianly matches a city more so double to triple it's size.

I think it has to do with it's role as the business headquarters for Canada's oil industry and it's associated highly concentrated downtonwn employment focus. It's much more of a white collar city than Edmonton, and most of the jobs are downtown.
Ya Grand Rapids is a city I'm curious about..I also found Syracuse to have some real cool older buildings. I'm Not sure about it's overall urbanity. Syracuse does seem well serviced when I was there those few times though. Major University, huge mall, etc. re: Calgary..While it may not necessarily have the width and girth of larger metros, it makes what it does have count and does real good with the density and concentration of their high-rises. It's skyline is very picaresque from the great angles I've seen taken of it..I've never been there, so I can't comment on the rest other then that it's definitely diverse and appears real well serviced.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 6:41 PM
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2019, 6:51 PM
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Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Des Moines has a decent skyline.
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Rochester, Minnesota always struck me as impressive, but I'm not sure how much of that is the Mayo Clinic. Never actually been there.
In terms of small metros with quality classic urbanism, Duluth and Madison are the winners in this part of the country. Both Des Moines and Rochester (and Fargo and Sioux Falls) are really wanting when it comes to street level urbanity.
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