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-   -   The Charm, and Challenge, of Savannah (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=239935)

DetroitMan Aug 7, 2019 2:58 PM

The Charm, and Challenge, of Savannah
 
Good article from the NYTimes discussing the rapid changes occurring in Savannah.

The Charm, and Challenge, of Savannah
By Keith Schneider
Aug. 6, 2019

New York Times
https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019...y=90&auto=webp
Quote:

In the annals of lengthy and arduous public reviews, a project along 54 acres of the Savannah River stands out.

The development, called Eastern Wharf, was proposed in the early 2000s; since then, it has changed ownership at least five times, altered its name once, generated two separate master plans, and appeared before the Savannah City Council for approval 58 times.

The project — a mix of residences, retail and public spaces, parking structures and recreational infrastructure, finally coming into view just beyond the moss-draped historic city center — reflects the attention.

The first residential tower, a $125 million, five-story apartment building, surrounds a parking deck. A 2,000-foot riverfront promenade stretches past a two-acre public park and rows of townhouses. The developers, Mariner Group and Regent Partners, both based in Atlanta, have agreements to start an $88 million, 193-room Thompson Hotel in the fall, and plan a $30 million, 80,000-square-foot office building. Eastern Wharf is the largest expansion of Savannah’s downtown in its 286-year history, and the first since the 1860s. Intensive public attention ensured that the project met the density, walkable scale and design ethic required by Savannah’s strict oversight.

“As a developer, it’s time-consuming and expensive,” said William W. Hubbard, president of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. “As a developer, you want to move fast and save money.”

But Mr. Hubbard called Savannah “a European-style city” with Continental charm that requires preservation. “It takes a more rigorous process if the ultimate goal is to preserve our unique experience,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/06/b...velopment.html

jd3189 Aug 7, 2019 8:02 PM

I would want Savannah to rise to prominence in the future. Atlanta is nice and all but it seems that Georgia and the other coastal Southeastern states ( except for Florida) are more focused on inland cities and not the coastal counterparts.

If cities like Savannah and Charleston become more attractive to millennials and other city dwellers, it would further add to the urbanization of those states.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 12:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jd3189 (Post 8652088)
I would want Savannah to rise to prominence in the future. Atlanta is nice and all but it seems that Georgia and the other coastal Southeastern states ( except for Florida) are more focused on inland cities and not the coastal counterparts.

There are historical reasons for that. It was pretty hard for cities whose economies were based on slavery and decimated after the Civil War to recover; meanwhile inland cities that were less reliant on slavery became more industrial with the advent of textile mills, railroads, etc. and then better interstate connectivity and so on. But it's good that the historic port cities missed the mid-century boom that was occurring in the inland cities; otherwise, much of what makes them special places would've been destroyed in the name of "progress."

Quote:

If cities like Savannah and Charleston become more attractive to millennials and other city dwellers, it would further add to the urbanization of those states.
Charleston got to that point about a decade ago or so; it's currently one of the fastest-growing metros in the country with new construction happening everywhere. It is at an advantage compared to Savannah as it is essentially on par with SC's other sizable metros. Savannah, on the other hand, shares its state with Atlanta.

Sun Belt Aug 8, 2019 1:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KB0679 (Post 8652318)
Charleston got to that point about a decade ago or sobvb it's currently one of the fastest-growing metros in the country with new construction happening everywhere. It is at an advantage compared to Savannah as it is essentially on par with SC's other sizable metros. Savannah, on the other hand, shares its state with Atlanta.

Like you said, Charleston is/has been hot for quite some time. My father sent me this article on Sunday:
Charleston’s the No. 2 place in SC to secure a mortgage, study says.

Both Charleston and Savannah face a storm threat, but for Savannah that threat is one of the lowest on the entire East Coast. Charleston is elevated, but still much lower than many parts of the Gulf Coast/East Coast. Last storm was Hugo, 30 years ago.

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 2:52 PM

Charleston is booming like crazy, but it isn't urbanizing. The core is generally protected from development and quite small. It's actually an extremely sprawly metro, with very limited transit and few walkable areas.

It seems like half of Ohio and Upstate NY moved to tract homes in Charleston-area sprawlburbs. I don't quite understand the appeal, as the beaches are pretty bad, the metro is fairly expensive, and the historic center is a few blocks. I assume the job market is quite good?

the urban politician Aug 8, 2019 3:00 PM

My brother lived in Charleston with his family for about 6 or so years, and the overall feeling of people who live there is that it is "heaven on earth". They love it there and they don't want to leave.

Bear in mind that the people who felt this way were typically of one demographic: white, and usually not hard core progressives/liberals.

The weather, the beaches, the charming and historic city center, the peace and quiet. It's appealing for many people; and it's not "overrun" by hordes of immigrants, etc like California is. Once again, to some people that's considered appealing.

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 3:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 8652764)
My brother lived in Charleston with his family for about 6 or so years, and the overall feeling of people who live there is that it is "heaven on earth". They love it there and they don't want to leave.

I've heard these sentiments too. Charlestonians seem to love their metro and consider it a paradise, kinda like San Diegans. But, unlike SD, I don't understand the appeal. Very humid, buggy climate, the ocean has murky water and weak currents, and the historic core, while beautiful, can be covered in about 20 minutes. The land is flat and swampy.

But yeah, few immigrants, I assume taxes are low, jobs probably plentiful, and everything is new and sprawly.

suburbanite Aug 8, 2019 3:17 PM

I thought Kiawah/Seabrook Island beaches were pretty decent but probably not very accessible for a day trip excursion. Some of the warmest ocean water I've been in in North America since it's a pretty shallow beach. Multiple times there we also had pods of dolphins swimming <50 feet away from us.

uaarkson Aug 8, 2019 3:33 PM

I like Savannah way better than Charleston. Bigger historic core, more cosmopolitan, quick and easy access to fantastic beaches on Tybee and Hilton Head islands.

lio45 Aug 8, 2019 3:56 PM

Keep Savannah Savannah. Thankfully, that's how it's been operating (even as it went through the most dangerous period for built heritage in the country) and I don't see this changing now.

BG918 Aug 8, 2019 3:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uaarkson (Post 8652805)
I like Savannah way better than Charleston. Bigger historic core, more cosmopolitan, quick and easy access to fantastic beaches on Tybee and Hilton Head islands.

I like that Charleston is surrounded by water on three sides, it has a more "maritime" feel than Savannah. It also seems like it is primed for higher growth with its seaport and aerospace industries. The CHS airport is also a lot larger and nicer with more flight options around the U.S., there is even a nonstop flight to London on British Airways.

I was in both earlier this summer and they seemed pretty similar in a lot of ways. Both are national treasures, our best examples of colonial architecture in a subtropical setting more similar to what you see in the Caribbean islands than in Philadelphia, NYC and Boston.

lio45 Aug 8, 2019 4:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sun Belt (Post 8652647)
Both Charleston and Savannah face a storm threat, but for Savannah that threat is one of the lowest on the entire East Coast.

Even considering this, I'm not sure if historic Savannah housing would even pass my own "threat safety ratio" which is based on the threat level relative to their solidity (rather than simply on the threat level as an absolute).

(Also, last time I looked, the prices were absolutely insane anyway, so, pass.)

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 4:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BG918 (Post 8652835)
I was in both earlier this summer and they seemed pretty similar in a lot of ways. Both are national treasures, our best examples of colonial architecture in a subtropical setting more similar to what you see in the Caribbean islands than in Philadelphia, NYC and Boston.

But then New Orleans, which has like 5x the amount of "colonial architecture in a subtropical setting" as Charleston (or Savannah), is always near dead-last on those "best places to relocate" lists, while Charleston is always near the top. Both places are flat, swampy, not particularly diverse, large AA population, unique food & culture, bad beaches.

For whatever reason, northerners don't move to NOLA, but they're crazy for Charleston.

the urban politician Aug 8, 2019 4:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652842)
But then New Orleans, which has like 5x the amount of "colonial architecture in a subtropical setting" as Charleston (or Savannah), is always near dead-last on those "best places to relocate" lists, while Charleston is always near the top. Both places are flat, swampy, not particularly diverse, large AA population, unique food & culture, bad beaches.

For whatever reason, northerners don't move to NOLA, but they're crazy for Charleston.

^ The reason is obvious.

Politically, NO is a "chocolate city" while Charleston is an "old south" style city with southern gentlemen hand in hand with southern belles and all that antebellum-style southern charm.

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 4:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 8652884)
^ The reason is obvious.

Politically, NO is a "chocolate city" while Charleston is an "old south" style city with southern gentlemen hand in hand with southern belles and all that antebellum-style southern charm.

Maybe you're right and it's all that Gone with the Wind marketing crap. New Orleans metro is 34% AA, Charleston metro is 28% AA, not a big difference. Far more plantation/antebellum stuff around NOLA.

JManc Aug 8, 2019 4:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652842)
But then New Orleans, which has like 5x the amount of "colonial architecture in a subtropical setting" as Charleston (or Savannah), is always near dead-last on those "best places to relocate" lists, while Charleston is always near the top. Both places are flat, swampy, not particularly diverse, large AA population, unique food & culture, bad beaches.

For whatever reason, northerners don't move to NOLA, but they're crazy for Charleston.

Because Charleston and the Carolinas in general are within a day's drive back to New York. Many northerners who retired in Florida moved to the Carolinas to be closer to home/ family (half backs) and eventually, people skipped FL altogether and simply moved to NC and SC.

New Orleans is at least two days away is a major city and has a stigma associated with crime.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 4:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652753)
Charleston is booming like crazy, but it isn't urbanizing. The core is generally protected from development and quite small. It's actually an extremely sprawly metro, with very limited transit and few walkable areas.

Yes Charleston sprawls but it is absolutely urbanizing; I'm not sure where you're getting that from. There is a ton of new development on the peninsula, particularly north of Calhoun Street along upper King and Meeting streets extending up into what's called the neck area which has traditionally been a bit more run down and industrial. It's quality urban development too; Courier Square is a good example of the type of development happening in that area.

Quote:

It seems like half of Ohio and Upstate NY moved to tract homes in Charleston-area sprawlburbs. I don't quite understand the appeal, as the beaches are pretty bad, the metro is fairly expensive, and the historic center is a few blocks. I assume the job market is quite good?
"A few blocks"? No Charleston isn't the size of Boston or Philly but the historic downtown is definitely more than a few blocks and has a great deal to offer. The beaches aren't like what can be found in South Florida but they are nice enough; there's also some good golfing to be had in the area. The cost of living is certainly increasing but overall I wouldn't characterize it as fairly expensive. Now there is the issue of Southern wages not being as competitive but the job market is overall very healthy and rapidly-growing.

I think if Savannah can manage to land a big manufacturing plant like Charleston has in recent years, it could see accelerated growth in the coming years.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 4:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JManc (Post 8652911)
Because Charleston and the Carolinas in general are within a day's drive back to New York. Many northerners who retired in Florida moved to the Carolinas to be closer to home/ family (half backs) and eventually, people skipped FL altogether and simply moved to NC and SC.

New Orleans is at least two days away is a major city and has a stigma associated with crime.

Exactly. It's the same reason why you won't find as many Northerners in Texas compared to the larger Southeastern metros: proximity.

uaarkson Aug 8, 2019 4:46 PM

I don't know about Charleston but I can tell you with firsthand experience the beaches surrounding Savannah are just as nice as anything you'd find in Florida.

As for New Orleans, it's too far from the northern states sending retirees south. It was also under water 15 years ago, and has a notorious gang problem.

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 4:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KB0679 (Post 8652920)
Yes Charleston sprawls but it is absolutely urbanizing; I'm not sure where you're getting that from. There is a ton of new development on the peninsula, particularly north of Calhoun Street along upper King and Meeting streets extending up into what's called the neck area which has traditionally been a bit more run down and industrial. It's quality urban development too;

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

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.

the urban politician Aug 8, 2019 4:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652938)
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

^ Wow, I'm visiting that streetview and come away with an exactly opposite impression from yours.

Yes, there is vacant land, but if you look at the existing structures and the new infill, all of it is in proper urban format.

Crawford Aug 8, 2019 5:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 8652944)
^ Wow, I'm visiting that streetview and come away with an exactly opposite impression from yours.

Yes, there is vacant land, but if you look at the existing structures and the new infill, all of it is in proper urban format.

It's perfectly fine, but it doesn't look notably different from random infill in Columbus or Raleigh or Portland. It has nothing to do with Charleston's supposed uniqueness.

LA21st Aug 8, 2019 5:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652938)
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

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.

Yea, there's nothing that stands out there. Not urban for me either. Certainly not a paradise of any sort.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 5:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652938)
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

It's clear as day that that area is urbanizing. I don't understand how that isn't obvious to you. Of course it's brand new construction but it's still an extension of downtown Charleston.

Quote:

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.
And there is quality infill occurring in that historic square mile or so, and the northern part of the peninsula is most certainly urbanizing.

sopas ej Aug 8, 2019 9:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652938)
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

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.

I've never been to Charleston, but yeah, the area you show in the link isn't urban at all. When you slowly zoom out of that block, it's all the more evident.

lio45 Aug 8, 2019 10:25 PM

This (essentially the same spot as Crawford's link) looks IMO much nicer (more texture, better materials, bigger windows, better architectural details) than the crap that's getting built in places like Nashville and Charlotte.

https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192

lio45 Aug 8, 2019 10:28 PM

Also, this it what it replaced. Night and day...

https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7984...7i13312!8i6656

lio45 Aug 8, 2019 10:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652938)
The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms.

Which is exactly as it should be, given that the historic square mile can only get either preserved as it currently is, or irreversibly spoiled. And I'm 10000x for the former over the latter.

(I suppose that may have been your point, in which case, we're in agreement.)

JManc Aug 8, 2019 11:13 PM

Charleston is not Midtown Manhattan. With that out of the way, it's a very walkable, urban area with a fuck ton of charm. It reminds me of some New England coastal towns. Was only there a few hours and all my camera gear fogged up so never got opportunity to capture it.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 11:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 8652965)
Yea, there's nothing that stands out there. Not urban for me either. Certainly not a paradise of any sort.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sopas ej (Post 8653309)
I've never been to Charleston, but yeah, the area you show in the link isn't urban at all. When you slowly zoom out of that block, it's all the more evident.

Nobody claimed that area was urban but it is clearly urbanizing. To claim otherwise is to be either blind or disingenuous.

KB0679 Aug 8, 2019 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lio45 (Post 8653367)
Which is exactly as it should be, given that the historic square mile can only get either preserved as it currently is, or irreversibly spoiled. And I'm 10000x for the former over the latter.

(I suppose that may have been your point, in which case, we're in agreement.)

There is actually infill occurring in and near the traditional historic downtown area as well. Hotel Bennett, built right on Marion Square, is a recent example.

Sun Belt Aug 8, 2019 11:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KB0679 (Post 8653421)
Nobody claimed that area was urban but it is clearly urbanizing. To claim otherwise is to be either blind or disingenuous.

What are they expecting? Boston? Charleston 1960 population was only 60,000.

Sun Belt Aug 9, 2019 12:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uaarkson (Post 8652805)
I like Savannah way better than Charleston. Bigger historic core, more cosmopolitan, quick and easy access to fantastic beaches on Tybee and Hilton Head islands.

Charleston has some great beach communities as well and are very close the Historic core. Even these beachside communities have incredible civil war/revolutionary war history.

Sullivans Island is located just off of Charleston Harbor on one side. It's 10 minutes away from downtown.

Isle of Palms is a great town. Half of it consists of Wild Dunes Resort. Private residences + golf resort.

Folly Beach on the other side of the harbor is a laid back small surf town, completely different feel from Sullivans and IoP.

Farther down the coast from Folly is Kiawah Island. Like Wild Dunes to the north, you'll find excellent accommodations and residences.

-----

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652842)
But then New Orleans, which has like 5x the amount of "colonial architecture in a subtropical setting" as Charleston (or Savannah), is always near dead-last on those "best places to relocate" lists, while Charleston is always near the top. Both places are flat, swampy, not particularly diverse, large AA population, unique food & culture, bad beaches.

For whatever reason, northerners don't move to NOLA, but they're crazy for Charleston.

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 8652884)
^ The reason is obvious.

Politically, NO is a "chocolate city" while Charleston is an "old south" style city with southern gentlemen hand in hand with southern belles and all that antebellum-style southern charm.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652903)
Maybe you're right and it's all that Gone with the Wind marketing crap. New Orleans metro is 34% AA, Charleston metro is 28% AA, not a big difference. Far more plantation/antebellum stuff around NOLA.

^Why some people are confused and can't seem to figure out why/how Charleston is different than a city 750 miles away is beyond me.

Totally different places, different culture, different history. Charleston attracts different people than N.O. because, surprise surprise, they're not in the same region of the U.S.

Fun Fact: New York is the same distance from Charleston, as Charleston is from New Orleans.

:P

lio45 Aug 9, 2019 12:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KB0679 (Post 8653432)
There is actually infill occurring in and near the traditional historic downtown area as well. Hotel Bennett, built right on Marion Square, is a recent example.

WOW! How nicely done.

(For anyone else - on the right hand side, you can see what it replaced.)
https://www.google.ca/maps/@32.78664...7i13312!8i6656

lio45 Aug 9, 2019 12:11 AM

I'm going to start to look into Charleston real estate, I could see myself wanting to spend some time down there :) very impressive heritage preservation and integration. Puts us up here to shame (and nearly everyone else too).

lio45 Aug 9, 2019 4:01 AM

I'm liking this one. Built in 1760 (older than my oldest building), and was the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. :tup:

https://www.realtor.com/realestatean...-19017?view=qv

Seriously though, there's nothing decent downtown that isn't in the seven figures.
(I wonder what the cap rate would be on Airbnb for a pre-Civil War $1M-$2M nice little house; I have started to operate my most luxurious building this way (all units) and it's really profitable compared to yearly rental, but it happens to be in an area where the zoning allows for hotels; not sure that would be true everywhere in downtown Charleston.)

Sun Belt Aug 9, 2019 1:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lio45 (Post 8653646)
I'm liking this one. Built in 1760 (older than my oldest building), and was the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. :tup:

https://www.realtor.com/realestatean...-19017?view=qv

Seriously though, there's nothing decent downtown that isn't in the seven figures.
(I wonder what the cap rate would be on Airbnb for a pre-Civil War $1M-$2M nice little house; I have started to operate my most luxurious building this way (all units) and it's really profitable compared to yearly rental, but it happens to be in an area where the zoning allows for hotels; not sure that would be true everywhere in downtown Charleston.)

Downtown is extremely expensive, but let's keep in mind it is the most desirable area of the peninsula/non-beach region, due to the historical value of the property. You can buy nice, new properties across the Ravenel bridge in Mount Pleasant for under half a million.

Mount Pleasant is desirable because you're in downtown in a couple minutes, you're at the beach in a couple minutes and with the 526 you're at the airport in a couple minutes along with huge employers in and around the airport area.

lrt's friend Aug 9, 2019 2:17 PM

I've been to both Savannah and Charleston and loved them both. However, as these cities grow without a good quality transit system, all we will be adding is the same awful sprawl that we see in most other cities. I was very fortunate on my visits to have stayed in the old urban parts of the cities. This made for a most enjoyable experience.

eschaton Aug 9, 2019 3:10 PM

I spent some time in Savannah about a year and a half ago. It's beautiful, but I don't think people realize how small the "urban" part of the city really is. The downtown area proper only has about 3,400 residents. If you add in the historic, but slightly newer/less walkable areas surrounding Forsyth Park, there's another 40,000 or so. The walkable area is tightly restricted by the river to the north, and really unfortunate urban renewal decisions (along with large heavily black housing projects) to the east and west. The only place it seems to organically merge with the surrounding fabric is to the south, where it's racially mixed and seems to be gentrifying, forming a straight up "white corridor" directly to the more suburban areas like Chatham Crescent.

Still, there really isn't all that much upside potential for Savannah I think. Housing is already pretty damn expensive, unless you're looking for a non-historic home in one of the ghetto neighborhoods. The city is pretty set on not densifying the core area - for good reason I think - but it still limits the ability to build major new apartment areas. It's kinda a shame the city never developed a second downtown the way New Orleans did (French Quarter the original downtown), because it would be helpful if there was an area wide open for development just a short walk from the core.

BG918 Aug 9, 2019 4:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8652903)
Maybe you're right and it's all that Gone with the Wind marketing crap. New Orleans metro is 34% AA, Charleston metro is 28% AA, not a big difference. Far more plantation/antebellum stuff around NOLA.

The difference is that New Orleans itself is heavily black while in Charleston most of the blacks live in North Charleston while the historic peninsula is majority white.

eschaton Aug 9, 2019 4:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BG918 (Post 8653981)
The difference is that New Orleans itself is heavily black while in Charleston most of the blacks live in North Charleston while the historic peninsula is majority white.

I'm not sure this really matters to be honest. While New Orleans is mostly black, there are a ton of white neighborhoods, incuding basically a continuous band running from Bywater all the way out past Tulane.

https://live.staticflickr.com/5189/5...e7e97543_b.jpg

edale Aug 9, 2019 5:53 PM

Anyone who's spent any time in both New Orleans and Charleston knows that there are huge differences in the vibes of each city, and a lot of that is tied to race. Despite having a large black population, Charleston feels very white-centric in its downtown/peninsula. It's preppy and really leans in to the whole Southern Gentry type of feeling. You don't see many black people walking around Downtown Charleston, and I'll never forget one of the first times I visited the city being shocked to see black people sitting in front of the former slave market making straw baskets and such. It feels really....backward. The city and region feels extremely conservative to me, and does not seem like a tolerant or accepting place.

New Orleans has a totally different feel. The black influence is undeniable and inescapable. From the Jazz to the food, to just the visibility of the black population (and black tourists) on the streets around Downtown/French Quarter/greater core area. There's a very large and visible gay presence, too, and I was surprised and delighted to see rainbow flags all over the place when I was there last year. It feels tolerant, weird, a little grimey and gritty. There's a pretty strong hipster influence in NOLA, too. Especially in Marigny and Bywater, and I haven't seen anything like that in Charleston. It just feels totally different.

I think Savannah feels more like Charleston than New Orleans, but I definitely noticed it had a more cosmopolitan and tolerant vibe than Charleston. I think this is probably due to the influence of SCAD and perhaps also their open container laws that are similar to NOLA's. It's decidedly less buttoned up than Charleston, but much more so than NOLA.

The only similarities I can see between the three cities is the architecture (and even then, there are distinct variations in each city), and some of the flora and fauna. Gators and Spanish Moss hanging from large Oak trees are the primary common features, imo.

lio45 Aug 9, 2019 5:59 PM

Charleston's a lot closer than New Orleans to the Northeast. That's a major factor right there.

Same reason why Western Canadian snowbirds all go to Arizona while Eastern Canadian snowbirds all go to Florida. Closest place that fits your criteria has a huge edge over the others.

JManc Aug 9, 2019 6:05 PM

New Orleans is not the traditional 'south' but its own thing with its own unique culture and vibe. Southern Louisiana in general marches to the beat of its own rhythm. Lafayette is coon ass Cajun country and they too are different from New Orleans and the rest of the south. North and central LA are more typical southern. There are some superficial similarities to Savannah and Charleston..mostly Savannah..esp compared to New Orleans' Garden District area but that ends there.

Plus, Savannah and Charleston are quaint, New Orleans is not.

Crawford Aug 9, 2019 6:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eschaton (Post 8653901)
I spent some time in Savannah about a year and a half ago. It's beautiful, but I don't think people realize how small the "urban" part of the city really is. The downtown area proper only has about 3,400 residents. If you add in the historic, but slightly newer/less walkable areas surrounding Forsyth Park, there's another 40,000 or so. The walkable area is tightly restricted by the river to the north, and really unfortunate urban renewal decisions (along with large heavily black housing projects) to the east and west. The only place it seems to organically merge with the surrounding fabric is to the south, where it's racially mixed and seems to be gentrifying, forming a straight up "white corridor" directly to the more suburban areas like Chatham Crescent.

I've never visited Savannah, but this is my impression of Charleston, and why I'm a bit confused about the city's draw.

Charleston has a gorgeous core, but the really attractive stuff covers at most a square mile. It probably has about as much pre-auto fabric as random older Northern cities like Kingston, Portland and Lancaster, but almost no one visits or moves to these places for urban charm, and magazines don't rank these places above Paris as travel destinations. And because you can only preserve the charm by keeping as-is, all the growth is on the fringe, and doesn't look different from the stuff you see in every other booming SE Sunbelt metro.

To me, Charleston is basically another Charlotte-Raleigh type transplant city, but with a cute historic core instead of glassy skyscrapers. They have built quite the reputation, though. People are moving from places with existing neglected historic cores to sprawl, on the pretext that they value historic cores.

And that also has me wondering if you put say, Kingston, in say Alabama, would it be a hot city? If Charleston were say in NJ would it be a backwater?

Crawford Aug 9, 2019 6:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lio45 (Post 8654062)
Charleston's a lot closer than New Orleans to the Northeast. That's a major factor right there.

I think that's a big factor. It also attracts a ton of Ohioans, but Ohio is a day's drive too.

And the demographic attracted to Charleston (preppy older upper-middle class white, conservative-leaning Northerners) probably don't have a favorable impression of NOLA.

JManc Aug 9, 2019 6:16 PM

Again. New Orleans is a lot further away and not retirement material. Someone living in small town Ohio or Upstate New York is not going to retire in a city as big or bigger than the one they currently live in. That's like me moving to Jakarta at 80 to wind down...

Charleston is pretty small.

Crawford Aug 9, 2019 6:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JManc (Post 8654089)
Again. New Orleans is a lot further away and not retirement material. Someone living in small town Ohio or Upstate New York is not going to retire in a city as big or bigger than the one they currently live in. That's like me moving to Jakarta at 80 to wind down...

Charleston is pretty small.

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.

sopas ej Aug 9, 2019 6:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by edale (Post 8654055)
Anyone who's spent any time in both New Orleans and Charleston knows that there are huge differences in the vibes of each city, and a lot of that is tied to race. Despite having a large black population, Charleston feels very white-centric in its downtown/peninsula. It's preppy and really leans in to the whole Southern Gentry type of feeling. You don't see many black people walking around Downtown Charleston, and I'll never forget one of the first times I visited the city being shocked to see black people sitting in front of the former slave market making straw baskets and such. It feels really....backward. The city and region feels extremely conservative to me, and does not seem like a tolerant or accepting place.

New Orleans has a totally different feel. The black influence is undeniable and inescapable. From the Jazz to the food, to just the visibility of the black population (and black tourists) on the streets around Downtown/French Quarter/greater core area. There's a very large and visible gay presence, too, and I was surprised and delighted to see rainbow flags all over the place when I was there last year. It feels tolerant, weird, a little grimey and gritty. There's a pretty strong hipster influence in NOLA, too. Especially in Marigny and Bywater, and I haven't seen anything like that in Charleston. It just feels totally different.

I think Savannah feels more like Charleston than New Orleans, but I definitely noticed it had a more cosmopolitan and tolerant vibe than Charleston. I think this is probably due to the influence of SCAD and perhaps also their open container laws that are similar to NOLA's. It's decidedly less buttoned up than Charleston, but much more so than NOLA.

The only similarities I can see between the three cities is the architecture (and even then, there are distinct variations in each city), and some of the flora and fauna. Gators and Spanish Moss hanging from large Oak trees are the primary common features, imo.

I've never been to the deep South, but it's very obvious to me why Charleston and New Orleans would have different vibes: Their histories and their cultures.

French Catholic culture is what shaped New Orleans, vs. Anglo Protestant Charleston. Mardi Gras is totally a Christian/Catholic festival after all, but people don't seem to make that connection. When Louisiana was a French colony, though they had slavery, because of the attitudes of the French Catholics, slave family members were never separated/sold away from each other, and there were many free slaves who walked about. Even though interracial marriage was forbidden, it still didn't stop people from having interracial relationships, and a creole/mulatto class developed.

Unlike in the rest of the Anglo Protestant south, where mixed black/white people were on the same class level as full blacks, and free blacks were almost non-existent.

jtown,man Aug 9, 2019 6:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sopas ej (Post 8654103)
I've never been to the deep South, but it's very obvious to me why Charleston and New Orleans would have different vibes: Their histories and their cultures.

French Catholic culture is what shaped New Orleans, vs. Anglo Protestant Charleston. Mardi Gras is totally a Christian/Catholic festival after all, but people don't seem to make that connection. When Louisiana was a French colony, though they had slavery, because of the attitudes of the French Catholics, slave family members were never separated/sold away from each other, and there were many free slaves who walked about. Even though interracial marriage was forbidden, it still didn't stop people from having interracial relationships, and a creole/mulatto class developed.

Unlike in the rest of the Anglo Protestant south, where mixed black/white people were on the same class level as full blacks, and free blacks were almost non-existent.

I agree NO had a more liberal view on black people for the South(isn't saying much) but to say "slave family members were never separated/sold away from each other" couldn't be further from the truth. NO had the largest slave market in the United States by time the Civil War started. Sure, the vast majority of these slaves were imported from the Upper-South but to act like NO was some mecca of tolerance of blacks that they didn't even sale slaves is far from the reality.

Also, again yes NO punched above their weight in terms of their free black population, to say "free blacks were almost non-existent" in other areas is incredibly far from the truth.


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