mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Diversity within suburban sprawl..

In the 50's, there was suburban sprawl, and in more recent years there was a backlash as elites came to view the suburbs as boring, bland, and lacking culture, and the cities as the place to be. Of course, the fact that the majority of Americans live in suburbs and are fleeing cities suggests that that is a view primarily of the elite.

Glenn Reynolds has positive things to say about and David Brooks wrote Bobos in Paradise, which looks at the suburbs and finds lots of diversity.

I didn't really realize how diverse the 'burbs are until Thanksgiving break, when I was driving through Somerville, NJ - the county seat of Somerset County and the town next to my parent's small town where I grew up. Somerville and much of the area around it were settled heavily in the 1900's by Italian and other immigrants who migrated to work at the woolen mills and other industries, mixing with the earlier English settlers. But as tech has increased in the area, there has been a large influx of Indians, Asians, and a ton of other nationalities. Anyway, driving through Somerville I noticed an Oriental grocery store, next to a Philipino food market, next to a Japanese resturant. So when I drove through today, I made a point of looking at the resturants and markets. Somerville has a veritable United Nations of resturants, including not only the standard Mexican and Italian, but also Cuban and middle eastern (and others I probably missed). My parent's town has started to gain a sizeable Philipino population, which own several stores and resturants in the downtown, and which have their own groups at the Catholic church my parent's go to - a church that used to be primarily Italian, to the point of offering confessions at holidays in Italian.

So I think those who view the suburbs as lacking diversity are wrong. A drive down Somerville's main street seemed more diverse than a drive down, say, Baltimore's North Avenue.

I'm kind of an unusual person myself - I was born and raised in the suburbs, but I live in the middle of Baltimore right now. There are things I like about my neighborhood - it takes me 10 minutes to get to work, it's cheap, and it's convient to various places. But given a choice, I'd trade the short commute for not having to park on the street and not having random people ask me for money when I come home from the gym at 11pm after a night class. Which is why I'm hoping to buy a house soon, and plan to focus my search outside of Baltimore city limits.


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