If ya can’t stand the suburbs, stay in the city

I’ve said it many times before – I’m completely fine with urban development in the city. I’m even fine with urban development in suburban villages. So why is it that those that love the urban lifestyle are so vehemently against the suburban environment?

On Buffalo Rising, we find this post about an urbanist who ventured to Cheektowaga to buy a book. Surprisingly, he found… *gasp* traffic lights and roads with more than 4 lanes! This of course sparked disdain not only by him…

“The sea of concrete and asphalt supported a thicket of zombie like poles holding any assortment of signs, signals, and tangled wires in a seemingly unordered composition. What color that did exist here (mainly in blaring signage) seemed to be mocked by the overbearing gray.”

… but by a deluge of commentors as well…

“It wouldnt matter if you lines the streets with gold paint, THIS AREA IS UGLY. AND… its not condusive to walking. Cheektowaga has NO redeeming value, NONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ITS THE WORST PLACE ON THE PLANET, BAR NONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“I believe that the monetary, health, and social costs of sprawl is one of the greatest threats to our country. Perhaps a greater threat than terrorism.”

“How many people know that obesity for cul-de-sac neighborhoods are double that of gridded streets?”

Wow… responsible for obesity, worse than terrorism, the worst place on the planet. Poor Cheektowaga. Who knew the damage it had caused.

Unfortunately, no amount of Al Gore docudramas are going to change the simple fact a hell of a lot of people just don’t like living in an urban setting. A lot of people don’t want to live above a bar, or have sirens wailing past their house in the middle of the night, or feel like they’re human sardines. They like the fact that their houses aren’t lined up like dominos, that they can easily get into their car and drive to within a few hundred feet of a store, and return to their own personal green space. They like that the schools don’t suck, that the air they do suck is clean, and that there’s some buffer space between them and their neighbor.

Urbanites can bitch all they want, but the suburban lifestyle is never going away. Cars are not going away. Six and eight lane roads are not going away. Parking lots are not going away. City life is not superior to suburban or rural life, it’s just different. If the suburbs disgust you so, don’t come here. For every photo of traffic lights and parking lots that you take in the suburbs, someone can take one of a graffiti covered building and a decaying block in the city.

The real irony, though, is that the urbanites want the suburbanites to come into city for shopping, entertainment, and eating, but can’t be bothered to leave the limits themselves for the same reasons. It seems that the city dwellers have attitudes that reflect their roadways – one way. We’re a bit more two-way out here. If that doesn’t suit you – have yourself a merry little U-turn.

Update: Looks like BuffaloPundit has a similar take.

Similar Posts


  1. That post on BR, and the subsequent comments, highlights the ugliness of the urbanists posting. They have socialist/fascist tendencies that do not recognize the freedom of people to make their own choice. They want to subject all of society to their vision of how life should be.

    They are really a sad lot, but a lot that needs watching to keep them in check.

  2. The Buffalo Rising post talks about someone that came from the city to buy a book. They came from the city for a book? Apparently something else they don’t have or know how to use is the Internet. Have you heard of amazon.com? Don’t they have a Barnes & Noble city outlet or something. With all the crappy and vacant buildings they have in the city, they should or some brilliant soul outta open one so they can close it 2 months later, due to lack of people they don’t/won’t/can’t read. Must be something in the environment or something like that. Urban sprawl?

  3. I do have to agree with the premise of your post. Steel knew damn well what he would be seeing by driving out to Borders to buy a book, which could have easily been obtained through alternate means, as Dave just pointed out.

    I do however find fault with your cliched mischaracterization of what urban living is, especially in Buffalo. I’ve lived in the COB for most of my life, grew up in a rather spacious 1904 house.

    Nearly all Buffalo dwelling units are NOT above a bar, rather they are typically on exclusively residential streets.

    I’ve never heard an overwhelming amount of sirens wailing past any given house or apt. I’ve lived in, except maybe on Richmond ave, lol, every ambulance seems to like using that street.

    I’ve NEVER felt like a human sardine in Buffalo. The house I grew up in is bigger than most suburban houses. And yea, there is a yard out back too! Oh, and a driveway to park cars. The apartment I live in now is bigger than most ranch and cape cod houses in the older burbs.

    Really most of of Buffalo isn’t so much CITY in the global sense but more like a leftover of early 1900s suburbia.

  4. I did intentionally mix in some cliches into my description, although much of those ideas are subjective anyways. My mom grew up on the East Side and my grandparents lived there until the mid 80s. It certainly felt more sardine-like to me than most suburban developments.

    My point still stands, though. Different people have different preferences. You can go anywhere looking for “ugly” and find it. In the end, it’s all subjective.

  5. Pingback: Buffalo Geek

Leave a Reply