What U.S. cities have livable, vibrant urban cores?

I used to live in Milwaukee and they have done incredible things to their Riverfront and Third Ward areas. I’ve heard that Cleveland has enjoyed a similar trend.

I’ve tried to do some searches for this but haven’t been getting the results I had hoped for. So I’m checking with the diverse crowd that is the Dope. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

I have heard good things about living in downtown Minneapolis. Museums, stadium, bars, colleges, Target, high prices.

I would wager that you can live pretty close to downtown San Francisco if you have enough money, and, really, that’s going to be the big factor in a lot of major cities: Park Avenue is probably a pretty nice place to live, if you can afford it.

Believe it or not, Salt Lake City. It’s far from the straitlaced Mormon stronghold it’s reputed to be (and the rest of the state is). The downtown is clean, relatively safe, relatively prosperous and, thanks to the 2002 Olympics, equipped with a nice commuter rail system. You can find reasonably priced housing in anything from a brand-new high rise to a gorgeous neighborhood built in the 1880s, full of old houses and huge trees.

Um - Chicago?
Over the past decade there has been a tremendous amount of residential development, from the near north and northwest sides to the south loop, as well as other places further from the city center.
Buses, trains, and cabs make it easy to get around, and there are plenty of cultural, recreational, and nightlife options.

Denver! (Though rental housing is more affordable than real estate) I live in a downtown neighborhood and am within walking distance of just about any kind of restaurant, entertainment, and amenity.

Portland Oregon has a very nice downtown.

I was thinking of posting this myself, but I had reservations. I mean, I work in Downtown, but I don’t live there. I’d never live in Downtown. Too noisy for me, too many homeless, panhandlers, etc. Gangbangers often cause problems at special events. You’d have to live with the sound of sirens on probably a daily basis. Parking a car would be out of the question, unless you’re wealthy. And, while “recreational” shopping is well-provided-for, I don’t know of all that many nearby grocery stores.

Yet, people do live downtown. Also, you have to specify what you mean by “downtown,” at least in the case of Portland. There aren’t that many residents of “Downtown” proper, but there are other “districts” of the city that most anyone would consider to be downtown, but are called by their district name (e.g., The Pearl, Northwest, etc.). These areas tend to have more of the residents.

So, Portland is a YMMV contender.


I’ll second Chicago. My sister and my brother live there because of school and I’ve found it to be a very liveable and pleasant area.

Austin is getting there. There’s more housing coming downtown, and there’s already plenty of nearby employment and entertainment. The transportation system is a bit clunky, but improving. The only grocery store downtown is Whole Foods, though, which I suppose is agreeable to the sort of folks drawn to downtown living in Austin, but if there’s going to be a real midle-class living there a more price-competitive alternative will be needed, along with more non-boutique retail, and, of course, housing prices that are sub-astronomical.

Chattanooga has revitalized its downtown area, with the additions of museums, parks, shopping & the State Aquarium.

Nashville has begun to construct new apartment buildings downtown, has added parks & stadiums, a new Art Museum (renovated from a 30’s Art Deco WPA Project, & lovely), a new Neo-Classical Main Library (National Award Winner, & architect’s society has declared it “Most Beautiful Public Building In The South”), is renovating City Hall & the Courthouse (also WPA/30’s/Art Deco), is adding our new Symphony/Opera House (not The Grand Old Opry, which still stands), & is investing in commuter rail & upgrading the bus system.

Washington DC is coming along nicely and now with the new ball club it looks like it will continue, knock wood.

OKC is getting there.

No really, I’m cereal. About a dozen years ago, the city started revamping a section of the downtown area, encouraging entertainment and restaurants to open up new places in the old buildings. Bricktown is what it’s called. After the Murrah Building Bombing (April 19, 1995) a lot more of downtown got rebuilt and revamped. In Deep Duece, near Bricktown, is a bunch of high end condos. several older, underused buildings all over the downtown area have either converted to flats or added residencial units.

From a dirty, untended, not too nice, cowtown looking, stay away after sundown kind of place to a vibrant, cool, nice looking downtown neighbourhood in less than two decades… Not bad, OKC.

LoDo rawks! The area between DPAC and Tabor Center is one of the Rices’ favorite haunts after enjoying a performance at the Buell. Our dream is to someday have a loft somewhere on Market Street. Yeah, we dream big!

I’ll third Chicago. Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building and that magnificent green tower that looks like a champagne bottle – it ain’t called the Magnificent Mile for nothin’!

Oddly enough the downtown center of Houston is not too bad at all, bars clubs theater etc etc and there are people walking around, which is an unusual thing in that city. The rest of the city is a concrete wasteland, mind you it has been a couple of years since I was last there.

I’m hopeful, but doubtful, that Los Angeles will join this list someday.

They are working hard on portions of downtown. There has been a tremendous push to convert old office buildings into lofts (my firm just moved out of our old building for this very reason). They’re building a supermarket and a mega shopping center around the Staples Center area. There are people banking heavily on the success of turning downtown into a place to be.

We shall see.

Agreed on all these points (I live in Houston), but there’s one essential element of a “livable, vibrant” downtown Houston: affordable, conveniently located, decent housing. Apartments downtown are brutally expensive and nice housing developments are few and far between considering the huge population.

I’ll second Salt Lake City from when I lived there, although that’s been ages, now. I gotta get back and see the rail system.
Boston certainly has a lively and livable downtown, although it is and always has been ludicrously expensive.

One city that certainly didn’t qualify when I lived there (and more recent visits haven’t changed my opinion) is Rochester, N.Y. They rolled up the sidewalks at 6 PM. The flight of big stores from downtown didn’t help. the “student ghetto” out on Monroe Avenue and environs is lively and livable, but not downtown.

One essential element missing, I meant. :smack:

It also has a plague of rabid badgers.