The Northeastern U.S. Cities: an embarrassment of urban riches

This is a conversation I’ve had too many times.

I am in Washingto D.C. today, the day after Martin Luther King day, for the inauguration of Barack Obama. While I will have much more to say on that in coming days, being here reminded me of how often we in the mid-Atlantic take for granted what we have: five of the most influential cities in the country and among the more meaningful in the world.

All Americans have relative access to them, but the densest collection of our residents can visit Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington D.C. for the weekend.

While many like to point to the availability of train access between historic European cities, the age of Middle Eastern and Asian metropolises and the culture of South American and African urban centers, I can’t help but think there is something meaningful here.

The United States is the world’s greatest exporter of culture and five of our most powerful hubs are all within eight hours.

Do you take advantage of that? If you aren’t in the region or even the country, am I overselling what I have?

Boston

Why do I care?:
Population:
608,352
Size:
89.6 sq mi
Nickname:
Beantown
Symbol:
Sports Teams:
Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots
Universities: Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, UMass-Boston
Famed Newspaper(s)
: Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Herald
Famed Corporation(s): Dunkin Donuts,
Famed Citizens: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Phrases to help fake you’re a local: “I’m from Wahdatown Mass!”

New York

Why do I care?: U.S. Cultural Capital
Population: 8,274,527
Size:
468.9 sq mi
Nickname:
Big Apple; City that Never Sleeps
Symbol:
Statue of Liberty
Sports Teams:
Yankees and Mets, Giants and Jets (in name), Knicks, Rangers
Universities:
New York University, Columbia University, Fordham University, Fashion Institute
Famed Newspaper(s): New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News and Village Voice
Famed Corporation(s): Dunkin Donuts,
Famed Citizens: Adam Sandler, Rudy Giuliani, Frank Sinatra, Norman Rockwell
Famed Music: Jay-Z, Billy Joel
Big Money: John D. Rockefeller
Food: Pizza, nuts, Italian ice
Phrases to help fake you’re a local:

Philadelphia

Why do I care?: U.S. Historical Capital
Population:
1,449,634
Size: 135 sq mi
Nickname: City of Brotherly Love; Illadelph
Symbol:
Liberty Bell
Sports Teams:
Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers
Major Universities: University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, and La Salle University
Famed Newspaper(s): Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Tribune
Famed Corporation(s): Comcast, QVC, Vanguard, Slinky
Famed Citizens: Bill Cosby, Bob Saget, Joe Fraizer, Tina Fey, Ben Franklin
Famed Music: The Roots; Hall & Oates; Paul Robeson; Beanie Sigel; Man Man; Dr. Dog; Jill Scott
Big Money: Stephen Girard
Food: Cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, water ice, Tastykakes
Phrases to help fake you’re a local:

Baltimore

Why do I care?: History; National Aquarium
Population:637,455
Size:
80.8 sq mi
Nickname: Charm City
Symbol:
Waterfront
Sports Teams: Ravens, Orioles,
Major Universities: University of Maryland, Loyola University
Famed Newspaper(s): Baltimore Sun
Famed Corporation(s):
Famed Citizens: Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglass
Famed Music: Toni Braxton
Food: Crab cakes
Phrases to help fake you’re a local:

Washington D.C.

Why do I care?: U.S. Political Capital
Population:
588,292
Size: 68.3 sq mi
Nickname:
Sports Teams:
Redskins, Nationals, Wizards
Universities: George Washington University, American University and Howard University
Famed Newspaper(s): Washington Post and Washington Times
Famed Corporation(s):
Famed Citizens: “Sugar” Ray Leonard; Colin Powell;  Sojourner Truth
Famed Music: Marvin Gaye Duke Ellington
Phrases to help fake you’re a local:

OK, plus, having grown up in New Jersey, I had to add the Garden State.

New Jersey

Why do I care?: U.S. Political Capital
Population:
8,685,920
Size:
8,729 sq mi
Nickname: Garden State
Sports Teams:
Devils, Nets (for now); Jets and Giants (really!)
Major Universities:
Rutgers University; The College of New Jersey and Montclair University
Famed Newspaper(s): Newark Star-Ledger
Famed Corporation(s): Wyeth and every other pharmaceutical company known to man
Famed Citizens: Jon Stewart
Famed Music: Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean
Phrases to help fake you’re a local:

So for those nearby appreciate being so near to so many distinct cultures. Those outside of it, let me know how excessive this all is.

What did I miss?