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Thursday, December 30, 2010

THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD (Part 25: Jewels of the American East))

The following continues the serialization of Chapter 6 from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

#10: Jewels of the American East: New York City/Boston/D.C. /Chicago

Like the EU, these cities are such great places that I amalgamated them all into something called the Jewels of the East.

I don’t love New York, but appreciate its economic and entertainment virtues. It remains the largest city in the USA, with the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, Broadway and several tallest buildings of their time, including the Empire State Building (102 floors, #1 from 1931 to 1973, currently #10, but the current tallest is Taipei 101 with only 101 floors) and the World
Trade Center twin towers (in 1973 became the tallest, 110 floors), which were demolished by terrorists on September 11, 2001.  (The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is now by the far the tallest at 2717 feet, more than 1000 feet higher than Taipei 1001.)

I like Boston, the so called Cradle of American History. The Red Sox, high technology, finest universities, lobster, history…it has almost everything. The weather is generally bad.

I lived in Falls Church, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Across the street one way was Alexandria, and the other, Arlington. For three years I toiled in the U.S. Senate, but had a chance to enjoy the various concerts on the Mall, free museums, change of season (D.C. is the most beautiful city on the globe a week in the Spring and a week in the Fall) and easy access to the Eastern Jewels. If not for the safety factor and frequent crummy weather, D.C. itself could have been considered as a serious finalist.

The Town of Chicago in 1833 had a population of 350, but grew to 1 million in 1890, even after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. By the time of the Great Depression in 1929, the population tripled to 3 million, which is, amazingly enough, about the same as today. But the metropolitan area is pushing 10 million. Like New York City, the crime rate has dropped. Chicago was the original skyscraper city, and has the Spire being readied for occupancy in 2010 (nope, not finished yet, but a height of 2000 feet is expected...someday) with 150 floors. In 2007, Chicago was the only North American city to have had a champion in all five major sports, and is the official national entry to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics (which it lost to Rio). The Loop, Chicago-style hot dog (no ketchup, please), chop (steak) houses, Oprah, bone-chilling windy weather, Chicago has a distinctive style.

The frenetic pace of these metropolitan areas, and you can add Philadelphia, Baltimore, and half a dozen others—all almost equivalently exceptional—are not quite the lifestyle that makes for an enjoyable life. Sure, a few years to gain exposure and experience, but not a full life. Important locations, but not necessarily the best places to permanently live.

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The Dow Jones Industrials slipped 16 to 11,570, while world markets were all mostly down.  Gold fell $7/toz to $1407, while petroleum edged below $90/barrel.

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