Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Peculiar Practice of Grading Cities 

Recently, when people have asked me about the raison d'etre of this blog, I've explained that it serves three important functions (for me).

  1. I wanted to have a motivation to begin writing something outside of my corporate writing duties.
  2. I have a compulsive habit of categorizing related items (look around) and I wanted to find a home for those lists.
  3. And finally, I'm a relentless evangelizer and promoter of the things that I enjoy and as a result people often ask me for recommendations about a range of needs, e.g., restaurants, films, plays, art, books, shopping resources, etc. This site serves as an archive of those highly personal preferences (see subtitle above).

Over dinner last week, the topic turned to my enjoyment of the city of London and the question of whether or not I had ever considered living there. I stated my belief that London is an "A" city and said that I'd very much like the opportunity to live in other A cities. Which lead naturally to the question of what are the grades and which cities qualify as what grades?Here is the basic framework of my system for all who wish to quarrel about it:

What is not included in my framework:

With that framework as a caveat...here we go:

A Cities
A cities are inexhaustable. You can never have "seen it all" or done it all. You may have hit some major sites and wiped yourself out. But there's more, more, more to do and it's growing and changing all the time.

A- Cities
These are so close to being an A, but they are smaller in some crucial element of scale. Fewer great cultural institutions, not quite the same vibrancy in culinary offerings, and/or perhaps terribly inclement weather.

B+ Cities
These are cities that often earn lots of kudos for "livability" and raising a family. But with the distraction of a family or a university life, you may not be noticing that fewer globally important movements are likely to emanate from this location on a regular basis.

B Cities
Smaller and smaller we go. These are the cities with a single solid performing institution in any one category (e.g., the Guthrie, Trinity Rep), and a single solid museum (e.g., The Walker). They're a lovely visit. A great place for a few years if you're single. But if your inner life is focused on using your environment to grow yourself, there are limitations here.

I would just like to thank you for posting this blog... I've been searching endlessly for Caillebotte's piece since I got home from Paris. I too was captivated by his work, but could not remember anything but what the painting looked like. Thanks for your indirect assistance.
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