Monday, February 1, 2010

28 Reasons I Love Hamilton... Reason 1

Why write 28 reasons I love Hamilton?

1. Hamilton is a CITY.

A proper city. Not a bedroom community. Not a village or hamlet. Not a suburb or subdivision. Not a municipality or township. And I like that.

I'm the first to admit my experience is very Ontario-centric. I've lived in St. Catharines. I've lived in Toronto. I've lived in Jordan Station. I've lived in Uxbridge. I've visited Italy and a few places in the States. And I always had a sneaking suspicion that I would end up in Hamilton one day.Toronto's a bit big for me, and well... after a summer with a contract job in Uxbridge, the "bed and breakfast" town for Toronto commuters, I realized I'm a city girl and set my sights on the Hammer.

It almost didn't happen. After almost landing a job in Milton and narrowly missing another very near Hamilton... I was relieved beyond words to be able to move to Hamilton, much sooner than expected.

I love cities.

Canada does not have many cities, dispersed as we are. Even more foreign is the concept of moving around different cities in a smaller geographical area. People think of moving to provinces... but more rarely to particular cities in that province.

And rarer still are "cities" in Ontario that are not bedroom communities... or that have a livable core with real amenities. Very few of the smaller 'cities' in Ontario are anything more than conglomerates of suburbs and new Smart Centers or similar (really.. everywhere.) with a tiny "core" of a few historical buildings. Witness the current Brantford debacle over bulldozing pre-Confederation buildings on Colborne Street. Witness the (very) slow revitalization of St. Thomas' downtown and the parts still suffering great neglect. Witness the past 10 years finally starting to bring some change in St. Catharines' downtown.

By contrast, our downtown, though suffering from demolition of many key buildings (the Century near me among them most recently), has a great deal left, and a great deal already going for it - if you dig beyond the one-ways. And things are localized and centralized.

Even the International Village around the corner has 62 of 72 storefronts filled. No matter what time I walk by, someone's always working at Bizclip. On this street I've got everything from great coffee to food to guitar strings. I've seen great art and cafe shows and danced to the big band at the Mustard Festival and got a great sandwich at Waxy's. Not to mention the Makers Market and P0WNZ and more - and that's just one stretch of one street in my neighbourhood.

And Hamilton, aside from simple population, has the things that make it a city. We're interconnected, dense, have a small footprint for our population. Cultural parts of a city, whether traditional like opera and museums, or less traditional, both abound. We're multicultural, as we should be. We've got a real central core to work with as a city, and the opportunity to extend transit and roads strategically around it.

At the same time, the surrounding suburbs are rightly recognized as part of the city, however much the odd cry of protest is still heard.

And everything is centralized here. Everything. Whether that's rock-climbing near my church or indoor swimming down my street or a decent Pho restaurant... it's here. (Well, everything except AYCE Korean BBQ.. yet. But that's gettin' specific :)

I love being in a city. Millions of pages have been written about the advantages of cities - the advantages of their density or their efficiency or a thousand other things. Cities concentrate things. Critical mass of anything can be reached first in a city, whether good or bad.

And that's the first reason I love Hamilton.

It's a city, and it's my city.

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