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?


Why do I care?:
89.6 sq mi
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
468.9 sq mi
Big Apple; City that Never Sleeps
Statue of Liberty
Sports Teams:
Yankees and Mets, Giants and Jets (in name), Knicks, Rangers
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:


Why do I care?: U.S. Historical Capital
Size: 135 sq mi
Nickname: City of Brotherly Love; Illadelph
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:


Why do I care?: History; National Aquarium
80.8 sq mi
Nickname: Charm City
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
Size: 68.3 sq mi
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
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?

2 thoughts on “The Northeastern U.S. Cities: an embarrassment of urban riches”

  1. I seee your home town bias has forced you to add the state of New Jersey to your list of prominent Northeast cities, I would have done the same. But this fairly unremarkable addition leads us to another question; What the hell is the signature city of NJ?

    Perhaps you and flat head Stanley can embark on an adventure to answer that.

  2. Newark! Just wait until the Nets come back.. and the Jets finally become the Jersey Jets and… um, you know. The northeastern corner is lost to NYC, as troubling as that is, so you gotta start with big Newark, pop. 250,000 or more. Then get Camden… oh Jesus, fill Camden with sky rises looking over the Philly skyline. Oh, I don’t know. …It’s fine for folks in north Jersey and people in South Jersey to identify with New York and Philly, because they are great, big cities, but I just wish they would also have some pride in their state, too.

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