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Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Luxury Cars and World Class Cities

My car is so great. It has a built-in CD player, a driver's seat with four independent adjustments, a tasteful spoiler, a spacious trunk, climate control, a powered sunroof, and gets over 30 miles to the gallon. It's comfortable, good-looking, and fun to drive. My car is comparable to a BMW or a Lexus, and is a great fit for me. Did I mention how much I like it? I mean, BMW or Lexus are a good fit for some people, but they don't really fit my style. You know though, it really is surprising how cheap it was for me to buy, considering how much other luxury cars go for these days...

So why am I rambling on about my car? What could this possibly have to do with home prices in Seattle?

Every once in a while someone tries to make the case that high home prices in Seattle are justified (or even that prices are too low) on account of what a swell city this is. Their argument goes something like this:

Seattle is so awesome! In fact, Seattle is so swell that it is completely reasonable to compare home prices here to cities such as New York and San Francisco, where homes are much more expensive! Seattle is after all a hip, up-and-coming world class city, probably even the hippest, most up-and-coming world class city around. So you see, it totally makes sense for home prices to shoot through the roof around here. We're just catching up to other comparable cities.
I definitely agree that Seattle is a great place to live. Much like my car, Seattle has many attributes that I really like: low pollution, beautiful scenery, proximity to nature, and a decent job market, to name a few. That being said, comparing Seattle to New York or San Francisco is just as ridiculous as comparing my Saturn SL2 to a BMW or Lexus. They're just not in the same league.

Although I already knew this was the case, since I don't travel much (never been to New York, Boston, San Diego, and have only visited San Francisco once), it didn't really personally hit home with me until my recent business trip to Chicago. Even though I only spent one afternoon cavorting about and seeing the sights, I was immediately struck with the impression of "this is what a real world class city looks like."

These are a few of the things I noticed (and later researched) about Chicago.

Chicago
  • Density: 12,604 people per square mile (source)
  • Extensive Rail system, with 8 different lines running through the heart of downtown (source)
  • Over 2,100 acres of waterfront parks bordering the downtown core (Lincoln Park, Millennium Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park), over 2,800 acres of waterfront parks total
  • 16 major sports teams, with 28 total championship wins (source)
  • Strong blues, soul, jazz, and gospel music scene. Birthplace of House music. (source)
  • World famous government center (Richard J. Daley Center), world famous skyscraper (Sears Tower)
Now here's how Seattle compares in those same categories.

Seattle
  • Density: 6,901 people per square mile (source)
  • Patchwork rail system, with an independent monorail, various street cars, disconnected, infrequent north-south routes, and various in-progress light rail lines. (source)
  • 18.1 acres of waterfront parks bordering the downtown core (Waterfront, Myrtle Edwards, Olympic Sculpture), over 600 acres of waterfront parks total
  • 6 major sports teams, with 4 total championship wins (source)
  • Alternative music scene. Birthplace of grunge. (source)
  • World famous landmark (Space Needle), well-known market (Pike Place Market)
If I had thought of it, I would have asked some Chicago natives whether they think Seattle is an "up-and-coming world class city." I bet they would have laughed at me.

While I was researching this post, I came across the Wikipedia page on world class cities (or "global cities" as they are referred to on Wikipedia). It cites an "inventory of world cities" compiled by a university group in England. In their list, cities can have up to 12 points, with 10-12 point cities being considered "alpha world cities," and so on down the list. Here is the summary of the US Cities categorized on their list:
Alpha world cities (full service world cities)
  • New York (12 points)
  • Chicago (10 points)
  • Los Angeles (10 points)
Beta world cities (major world cities)
  • San Francisco (9 points)
Gamma world cities (minor world cities)
  • Boston (6 points)
  • Dallas (6 points)
  • Houston (6 points)
  • Washington, D.C. (6 points)
  • Atlanta (4 points)
  • Miami (4 points)
  • Minneapolis (4 points)
Seattle shows up way down the list with 2 points, having "some evidence of world city formation." Another categorization is quoted that lists "well rounded global cities" (such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago) and "worldwide leading cities" (including Miami, Atlanta, and Denver), but Seattle is nowhere to be found on their list.

I mention these lists only to demonstrate that when I say "Seattle is not comparable to San Francisco or New York," it's not because I have some grudge against the city that I call home. I am not alone in my assessment of Seattle as a small city. It's not my biased opinion, it's a fact.

Again, I want to reiterate that I like it here. Seattle is great, and I am happy to call it home. But let's be honest, it is disingenuous to compare Seattle to New York or San Francisco. Let's enjoy Seattle for what it is instead of pretending it is something that it's not.

Much in the same way that I would not pay $40,000 for a Saturn sedan, I am simply not willing to shell out $450,000 for an average house in Seattle.

Update: It seems I've got an ally in Seattle P-I columnist Bill Virgin.

57 comments:

plymster said...

SL2? Well, look at Mr. Fancy Pants. I don't squander my pennies on such unabated luxury and self-indulgence. My 1998 SL1 works just fine.

Nice wheels, though! I'm jealous!

Chris said...

I moved to Seattle from Chicago seven years ago for graduate school. Though UW is a fantastic institution, the great things Tim lists about Seattle were the real draw. There is so much to love about Seattle. But only an idiot would claim that Seattle is a world class city.

Seattle's small, and that's a good thing. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and the hugeness of the city just freaked me out! I went into the city at least once a month (often by rail, which can be accomplished from all of the suburbs), and I still feel like I only got to see a fraction of it.

Seattle has parts that feel a little bit like Chicago, but none if is nearly as big nor intimidating. There are over 9 million people in Chicagoland alone. The entire state of Washington only has 6 million.

Lake Hills Renter said...

But, Tim! You left off pretty pink ponies!

christiangustafson said...

Seattle is a lot like those truly sad WSU ads, proclaiming again and again, "We are world-class". Which, of course, they are not. Would I send my kid to Wazu? Um, no. How about to the University of Chicago? In a heartbeat.

As a Chicagoan, I recognized that kind of boosterism when I got here, because Chicago used to do a lot of the same, after L.A. took the limelight in the 1980s. But, lo and behold, Chicago discovered that it did cut the mustard. Seattle will continue to worry, and it should.

Compare the classic Chicago brick three-flat apartment construction, buildings built back in the 1920s, that will be in service for the next hundred years ... to the 2 x 4 studded madness that is the Trio condominiums. The quality of housing here is so cheap and awful, it's like we're waiting for the glaciers to return and are putting up temporary structures in the meantime.

Gee, I sure am glad to see that Seattle has found a school superintendent that can take on all the racism here. Maybe I missed a memo, but since when does nice-liberal Seattle have racial issues? Chicago has them, real nasty ones, but they don't use them as an excuse to ignore the schools any longer. Maybe it's just me, but I found it odd that the new superintendent yesterday had more to say about civil rights issues (OMG in Seattle?!) than educating our kids.

Peckhammer said...

On my flight home from the South West the other day, I overheard a loud cell-phone blabbering Seattlite yap, "Denver is surprisingly brown... I have no idea why anyone would want to live here."

Ummm... how about 300 days of sunshine in the tenth largest downtown in America, with strong job growth and reasonable housing costs.

Richard Anderson said...

Agreed, Peckhammer. I noticed the same thing flying back from Dallas last Monday. It was obvious who was from Seattle and who wasn't. World-class city my arse.

In a world-class city you shouldn't be able to see people you went to high school with all the time just walking on the street as my wife does. Seattle is a large small town.

Christina said...

I like my Saturn SL2. I paid it off in two years. I like my maxiscooter more though -- affordable, cheaper insurance, storage, 60 mpg and single-occupancy privilege in the HOV lane on the 520 and parking in Capitol Hill is NO PROBLEM. They're both affordable and get me to where I want to go.

I like my Seattle SFR too. I'm paying it off early. I like that it's situated where I can walk to most places I need to: supermarket, drugstore, FedExKinko's, library. The bills, even the winter gas bills, are affordable. In fact, its current price is what I would have paid in principal and interest by 2023. And it's cheaper than renting.

Speaking as a refugee from one of those top-ten-in-unafforability world-class cities, Seattle is not world-class. Seattle is affordable. The people who left the same city I did would rave with me about how one could get a house here through income, and not by inheritance.

Which is why I'm confused by people's buying behaviour here over the past four years. If they'd only seen what a housing boom-and-bust cycle was like (the dot-com thing does not count), if they'd try scrimping on one spending category in their budget so they can live large and passionately in another, if they'd try being unAmerican for awhile by practising the noble and frugal virtue of delayed gratification, they'd see Seattle is not so outrageous. Maybe the problem is with people whose purchase appetites are whetted only when demand for merchandise and investments move the prices tantalizingly out of reach.

Grivetti said...

Personally I've never wanted Seattle to be a world-class city, it was out of the way, isolated and it kept the charm intact.... charm, that's the best way to describe Sea-town.

One reason that Seattle may wear the camoflauge of a cosmopolitan city is that its home to two major ineternational companys. However, its important to remember, Boeing is no longer a Seattle based company it is a Chicago based company now...

Internationa/cosmopolitan city's are known as world-wide financial hubs and world-wide fashion/entertainment hubs... its important to note about the alpha-city's mentioned and what they're known for internationally...

NYC: finance, fashion, broadway, music, art.

LA: hollywood, television, fashion

Chicago: finance, art, music, industry

....

Seattle:Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing... er... Frasier? ... uhm, Nirvana! ... that Tom Hanks movie... rain...

Zintradi said...

"Let's enjoy Seattle for what it is instead of pretending it is something that it's not."

I think this has been a problem for Seattle politicians for as long as I've lived in the area (since 91)... Seattle having a nepoleon complex when it looks to Chicago and New York...
Which is why they do stupid things like insist on a tunnel instead of re-building a viaduct, build this model train accross the area for an atrocious amount of money.
Seattle proper has about 1/2 a million people? That's bareley the size of one of NYC's Burroughs. It's just a town in comparison.
In fact I don't think I would want to cram any more people onto the isthmus of Seattle especially when they don't want to build new roads or take care of the ones they have, and wnat to do this craziness called a "road diet"... yeah that's what "World Class" cities do.

info said...

Interesting post Tim....here's a few thing to consider.

since I don't travel much (never been to New York, Boston, San Diego, and have only visited San Francisco once),

I've actually traveled and lived in most of N.America, Europe,and the Middle East, I can say for certain that Seattle is definitely unique. I was born in Manhattan and lived in Boston, Atlanta, N.C, N.J., and Amsterdam. The things that really struck me about Seattle are:

1) Incredible scenic beauty with water and mountains and both sides of the city. Even many modest houses have great views. You simply don't get that in Chicago, Boston, NYC, etc.

2) A smaller, "liveable" city that has an incredible arts/music scene for it's size. And this is of prime importance for me since I'm a musician. Seattle actually has an incredible music scene...the type of scene you;d expect of a much, much bigger city. Quincy Jones and Jimmy Hendrix were from here....and for the music that I play (Gypsy jazz ala Django Reinhardt), Seattle is THE place in N. America. There are so many famous musicians that have chosen to live here it ridiculous: Peter Buck of REM, Jazz great Bill Frisell, the great Jazz violinist Joe Venuti spent the last decades of his life here, the great Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto, and so many more. The vibrant cultural scene here just attract these sort of people.

3) Great food town! did you know the Food channel star Mario Batalli is from Seattle?

4) People are just smart here...seriously. In general, I just get a long with people here then in many other places. The high level of education has a lot to do with it.

So with that in mind, lets look at prices and incomes:

Median Prices:
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont $718.7
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria $432.9
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy - $397.5
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island - $454.1

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue $335.0

Seattle is the cheapest of the "World Class: cities. Houses here are almost half of that in the Bay Area, over 100K cheaper then D.C. and NYC.


Median Incomes
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont $49,276
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria $49,530
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy - $48,158
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island - $45,570

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue $41,661

But the average income is only about 8K less,

Cheap houses, high wages...no wonder everyone is moving here!

flotown said...

c'mon you all sound like Knute Bergers. Seattle, with a couple (ur, major) improvements in mass transit, would be an awesome place to live. It has one of the most unique meetings of urban and wild settings of any city in the world. Aukland, Geneva may be the only two I've been to that are equal or better. Riding the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle on a sunny day gives me goose bumps. Try finding an emotional reaction like that any time, any place in Dallas, Atlantaor Minneapolis. Sure, Seattle is no San Francisco or New York, but that's a straw man. When people say Seattle could be world class, I think world class in the way Vancouver is world class.

Seattle's location is world class. Arts, major sports, major industry, major port activity, major corporate activity all in proximity to rivers, lakes, and glaciated mountains in all directions. Wow.

Grivetti said...

If I may pipe up for the Tim, it looks like a few people have missed the point entirely with this post...

This isn't about "how great" Seattle is, this is missing the point.

The point is, travel to some far end of the Earth (or at least a 2 or 3 states away) and see what Joe Earthling has to say about Seattle in comparison to NYC,LA, or Chicago... chances are, it wouldn't register on the radar screen.

This goes to the heart of Seattle smugness, no dude, its not about how super fantastic great we all are, that's concieted nonesense, its about whether or not a random sampling of folks internationally can find us on a map, the numbers would be remarkably small...

For cryin' out loud! There's almost as many Armenians in LA than there are in Armenia!! There's probably more Jews in NYC than there are in Israel!... Seattle has South-center, while ethnically diverse, is still plagued with by likes of Fuddruckers... oh, and our rapidly dissappearing Central District

Richard Anderson said...

The point is, travel to some far end of the Earth (or at least a 2 or 3 states away) and see what Joe Earthling has to say about Seattle in comparison to NYC,LA, or Chicago... chances are, it wouldn't register on the radar screen.

grivetti,

I think that's part of the problem. Seattleites think that their city is the center of the universe and that most other places are dumps. Most of the people I talk to haven't been out of WA/OR/CA. Anywhere else is like a 3rd world country to them.

-Rich

blueskitten said...

Heh... my husband has a SC2 that he loves. Seems like a disproportionate number of Seattle bubbleheads are also saturn owners. Odd, since Saturns in general aren't very popular around here.

Terry said...

....The people who left the same city I did would rave with me about how one could get a house here through income, and not by inheritance....

christina,

I'm intrigued by your implication. Is it your belief that future home ownership in large cities will only be obtainable thru inheritance?

Joel said...

Ummm... how about 300 days of sunshine in the tenth largest downtown in America,

There's that "Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year" claim that I keep on hearing. I think it's a big exaggeration. For example, look up "denver days of sunshine" on google. You get a lot of links to sites that say Denver gets 300 days of sunshine year. Now do the same search with San Jose, and apparently San Jose also gets 300 days of sunshine a year. Now I find it very hard to believe Denver is as sunny as the South Bay. A lookup of both cities on city-data.com confirms my suspicions. It seems the bar is set a lot lower in Denver for what constitutes a "day of sunshine".

refractedthought said...

*hrm* Yes, I have a Saturn too... fantastic gas mileage...

"The point is, travel to some far end of the Earth (or at least a 2 or 3 states away) and see what Joe Earthling has to say about Seattle in comparison to NYC,LA, or Chicago..."

Bingo. Growing up near DC, I had only the vaguest impressions of what or where Seattle was -- might as well have been Akron for all I cared. It wasn't until one of my friends moved here that I paid any attention to it at all.

When I decided to move here myself, it was for the natural beauty and the local culture -- not because I wanted to go "big time" or anything. I don't want this place to be a world-class city. I'm tired of dealing with world-class problems. People here generally get along with each other. Traffic is bad, but it's not super-mega world-class bad. Crime exists, but it's manageable.

We should all appreciate Seattle for its smallness.

deeplennon said...

Info- Quincy Jones is from Bremerton, but they're fine with Seattle getting credit for him because everyone already knows that Bremerton is a world class city.

deeplennon said...

Denver & Sunshine.

According to this chart from NOAA, Denver's average would be 207 days of sunshine a year. (69% of 365)

For fun, Seattle 157.

Deejayoh said...

Lived in SF, LA, NY, and Houston. Spent loads of time in London, Sydney, Buenos Aire, Tokyo, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore...

Have to agree with The Tim that Seattle, while my personal favorite - isn't really in the same league as those cities.

4) People are just smart here...seriously

no comment...

Deejayoh said...

I thought Quincy Jones went to Garfield? Long commute from Bremerton!

Peter Taylor said...

Info/Michael/Meshugy said:

Jimmy Hendrix

Hey, is he any relation to Jimi Hendrix? Because guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is from Seattle too. And don't forget Kenny G is from here, as is Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Christina said...

Is it your belief that future home ownership in large cities will only be obtainable thru inheritance?

Not for everybody. A home can be a SFR or a condo. It can be in a good or a bad area. It can be purchased singly or with a partner. One can "downscale" from a lakeside Swiss mansion in Vevey to a mere penthouse in Toronto without relying on an inheritance. I have a friend who actually owns half of a duplex in YVR, but it's on the boundary to Burnaby, and his parents, God bless them, helped with a downpayment.

And some large cities are relatively uncomfortable: who wants to live in Mexico City, for example? I'd rather live here than in Los Angeles, or Phoenix, or Miami.

For all its similarities with Vancouver, the subject of a Rhonda Porter blog post, Seattle has some weaknesses that keep its median SFR price lower than Vancouver's, and Vancouver has some weaknesses that keep its median SFR price lower than San Francisco's.

Deejayoh said...

just so we don't turn this into the famous musicians birthplace thread, here is the 411 on Quincy

born Chicago, raised Seattle

no mention of Bremerton...

Grivetti said...

Famous musicians....

Hell my hometown of Snohomish is currently the home of crazy-libertarian survivalist John Popper of Blues Traveller!!! Wee-hoo!!!

... anyway, Jimi had to move to London to get famous, I doubt if he played even one gig in Sea-town...

Chuck Ponzi said...

Jeez.

I thought that Orange County was the most concieted place on the earth.

Seattle's disdain for everyone else is just better couched.

I'll have to get the ranking notebook out again.

Chuck Ponzi
www.socalbubble.com

Terry said...

From Wikipedia, about Quincy Jones;

....Born on March 14, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois, Jones discovered music in grade school and took up the trumpet. When he was 10, his family moved to Bremerton, Washington....

If I recall correctly, Ibelieve Hendrix attended Garfeild.

Terry said...

Again from Wikipedia. It appears both Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones attended Garfeild:

The music program at Garfield High School is world-renowned, and has won numerous awards and the respect of many. It has seen several noted artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and Ernestine Anderson, although Jimi Hendrix rarely attended school.

Terry said...

christina,

I get the impression that you believe that current home prices in the Seattle area are really not that far out of line, comparitvely speaking.

I personally have a problem with the disparity between median family income and median home prices (condo + res). It's around 6X right now in Seattle. I just do not see how that is sustainable.

So your saying, stop whining, get used to it, that's the way it's going to be?

deeplennon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HomerLoanseeker said...

"Seems like a disproportionate number of Seattle bubbleheads are also saturn owners. Odd, since Saturns in general aren't very popular around here."

Bubbleheads love the saturns because they don't get stolen from apartment complexes like a honda or toyota.

deeplennon said...

"no mention of Bremerton..." - deejoyah

I was just bustin' balls yo. It's pretty funny to think that QJ lived in Bremerton.

Your google skills might not be up to scratch though as typing in "quincy jones bremerton" brings up 77,000 hits.

including these flashy bremerton jr. high band uniforms

Deejayoh said...

Your google skills might not be up to scratch

Ah, yes. my search was "quincy jones garfield"

now back to our regulary scheduled programming. I am just DYING to hear more about median prices.

Christina said...

I get the impression that you believe that current home prices in the Seattle area are really not that far out of line, comparatively speaking.
When we're using exclusively a set of West Coast cities greater than or equal to Seattle's population, correct.

I personally have a problem with the disparity between median family income and median home prices (condo + res). It's around 6X right now in Seattle. I just do not see how that is sustainable.

Ditto. I personally have a problem with my friends being unable to buy a home. Thankfully they have a stronger sense of security than a sense of panic and are waiting it out.

So you're saying, stop whining, get used to it, that's the way it's going to be?

No, terry. Don't put words in my mouth. I stand by my claim that the median price for a SFR in Seattle is cheaper than Vancouver or San Francisco. I can even type that with a straight face having read through HBB, oftwominds, calculated risk. I don't believe making that statement, nor the fact I own a house in Seattle automatically puts me in the denial camp. I'm saying that I've lived through a boom-and-bust cycle in another city, that cities with any kind of economy are not immune to booms and busts, even cities that have the misfortune to be situated in a country with the largest deficit in the world and a devaluating dollar, and if people cooled their heels and waited for the opportunity to buy a home they could stand to live in and also afford, their patience would be rewarded. How does my acknowledgement and experience of bust cycles put me in the "unsustainable prices are here to stay" camp?

We tried to put a house on the market in 1990 for $175,000 in Vancouver, during the bust, and nobody bought. 17 years later that house is valued at $875,000. A bust will come again -- prices are already cooling where I live. I want home prices to come down, I expect them to. I'm telling my antsy pals who will listen to wait until 2008-2010.

Terry said...

christina,

Thanx for elaborating. I wasn't getting your intended meaning with your original comment on housing boom - bust cycles.

Puget Sounder said...

Bubbleheads love the saturns because they don't get stolen from apartment complexes like a honda or toyota.

What this poster forgot to mention is that when one moves to a downtown condo and becomes a homeowner, all the Toyotas or Hondas that park there in the shared garage are protected by...a MAGIC PINK ATTACK PONY!

(note: any renters in the complex...better own an undesirable car like a Cavalier. That pony ain't protecting your ride).

Ah, the benefits of homeownership. Too bad my rented place has a one-car garage for my Subaru Outback. (sniff, sniff)

Chucky Cheese said...

Ok, not to be elitist or anything, but are you seriously trying to compare a Saturn to a luxury car? Have you ever driven a BMW or a Lexus? I've owned shitty cars all the way up to high end luxury cars, and I can definitely tell the difference.

Have you ever seen a compact sedan like the Saturn after a crash? It's squished. Look at a BMW 7 Series after a crash...it's dented, but in tact.

I know the analogy you're trying to make, and I agree with what you're saying, but geez...A saturn is just an American-made piece of shit. There's a reason why GM is suffering. There are people who will buy GM's and Saturns, but once you've driven a BMW 7-series, Lexus LS460, or a Mercedes S550, you will know the difference.

Finance said...

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2003/0202/cover.html

This article is a few years old, yet is extremely good...really. It goes into Portland, Vancouver & Seattle. Seattle should follow the path of these two cities...if our elected officials could ever make up their mind one way or another darn it!!!

We should build 50 story apartment buildings downtown Seattle & Bellevue (not just condos…did I really say that?) Thus the density of a, ready for it, A World Class City!

Ok I don’t believe Seattle is world class (more like world last), as we never stand our ground on any position and change direction like the wind (or rain). We need a Mayor with a brain for integrating the city together with everyone else, Seattle is not the end all of King County…just look at Bellevue!

EconE said...

Chucky Chucky Chucky.

I used to be an auto adjuster in a past life.

Saturns...although they become rattletraps (older ones) due to the snap on body panels...have held up surprisingly well in my experience with totalling them out.

Lexus makes a reliable but boring car.

BMW...better than a Lexus IMO but still quarky...especially the I-drive.

MBZ?...jeeze...even the S class is pulling parts from the Chrysler bin.

What have I found to be the best "investment" when it comes to cars.

Air cooled 911's with the exception of the 74-77 models.

The Tim said...

Methinks that Chucky Cheese got bored and didn't bother reading past the first paragraph. Otherwise he would have seen this:

...comparing Seattle to New York or San Francisco is just as ridiculous as comparing my Saturn SL2 to a BMW or Lexus. They're just not in the same league.

Scott said...

That Wikipedia world city list in general is pretty good, but there is one glaring SNAFU that makes one question their methodology: they have Washington DC as a gamma world city with only six points? The capital of the world's most powerful country is lower than Madrid, Sydney, or Singapore? Give me a break.

Eben said...

I moved from Seattle to Chicago but I'd still put Seattle above most the cities on that list. You've got to account for the rate of growth in importance as well as level of importance.

SF's heyday was 40 years ago now. And Boston? Harvard, sure, but name a Boston band. Or a company.

Seattle competes favorably with just about any city in the world with the creation of new and valuable ideas:

Nordstrom/Eddie Bauer/Customer Service
Good Coffee/Bread/Reasturants
Microsoft/Amazon
Way above average design and diy spirit
(not to mention Boeing, REI, and eco consciousness)

and of course:

Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Quincy Jones, Heart, Pearl Jam, Grunge, etc, etc.

For my money it's hard to name another city outside maybe the top five worldwide that has incubated and executed that kind of economic and cultural value in the last thirty years.

Which of course makes it a very appealing place to live. Plus, cars move, real estate doesn't.

BTW, people here start going misty-eyed when you mention it never snows in Seattle. I'm not sure they realize what the winter entails, but they certainly seem ready enough to pack it in--at least in February.

Chucky Cheese said...

Econe - I have a MB S550. I was skeptical at first because a few years ago I got the new SL500 which spent every other month in the shop. I swore I'd never buy a Mercedes again. The new S550 is really different & really nice car. Fast, responsive 380HP engine, with a really quiet interior. I was debating either the S550 or the Lexus LS460. I chose the S550 because it looks sleeker than anything else. I get compliments on the looks all the time. I agree, there are a couple trim items that are plastic Chrysler cheap, but overall the leather, electronics, engine, and soundproofing are top notch.

I agree the 911 holds up well, but then again, when I buy a luxury car, I want something that's cool and new. Don't want an old porsche.



Tim - Didn't read that. But I get irate anytime people think that Lexus/BMW/MB are not worth the money. Didn't mean to take it out on you.

flotown said...

I disagree...

1) Mayor Nickels has done more for getting shit done in this town than any of the last two since I've been around

2) We have a handful of 40 story apartments in the works - Tarragon, and Urban Partners developments among them.

3) Bellevue and seattle are complimenting each other, not competing and no one in seattle wants to compete with bellevue...Bellevue is essentially wanting to be more like urban and the BDA has forged a partnership with the DSA to work on things like transit availablity and walkability.....Bellevue wants light rail having seen how much excitement is brewing in seattle over Central Link......and Seattle embraces Bellevue's urbanization - as the east side embraces urbanity we are much more likely to move forward with progressive policies

The Bruce said...

Scott -

DC doesn't compare to Madrid or Barcelona. I guess it depends on what you look for in a city, but EU membership is helping put those cities on the map for the amazing cities they have always been. They've only gotten better as Spain has benefitted greatly from EU money and prosperity. I was in Barcelona last summer (I haven't been to Madrid for 11 years), and if I had to pick a perfect place to mix lifestyle, culture, natural beauty, and climate I'd say its pretty tough to beat Barcelona.

refractedthought said...

"they have Washington DC as a gamma world city with only six points?"

Yeah, I grew up there. Sounds accurate to me. It's a major city, but it's not a major major city. Without the fed buildings it wouldn't amount to very much at all. It's got one hell of a suburban sprawl, though.

Rhonda said...

Hi Christina,
The Rain City Guide post you're referring to is from Ardell...not me.

And, I think Seattle is fantastic. I spent most of my life growing up in Renton. My family is buried at Greenwood where Jimi rests. I spent a few years living around CA and summers in Dallas, TX. I know why we goofy Seattlelites are excited over our green.

We do need to figure out transportation. That's where I think we're lagging compared to the other cities.

Eleua said...

I lost 10# laughing my ass off when I read that as far as "world class cities" go...

Dallas - 6
Seattle - 2

I never thought I was 'slumming.'

Seattle snobs like to compare themselves to NYC, and SF, but they are behind Dallas, Minneapolis, Miami, and Atlanta.

As far as sports championships go...I would say that Seattle has only one since the '60s ('79 NBA).

Dallas has 5 SuperBowl championships and one Stanley Cup.

There really isn't anything funnier than deflating pretensions.

Tooooooooo funny!

When the three biggest civic events in the last 120 years are:

-Gold discovered in Alaska/Yukon (not in Washington)
-1962 World Fair
-Local NFL team loses SuperBowl

...you have to think the city has a lot of growing up to do.

Eleua said...

I forgot one more BIG civic event.

1990 Goodwill Games.

That puts us on par with Atlanta and the 1996 Olympics. Right?

Mike said...

The Seattle that produced Nirvana and the grunge movement 19 years ago was a place where people, even in nice neighborhoods wouldn't send their kids to public schools. Greenlake/Woodland park were littered with needles from the legion of junkies in the youth culture that produced the "Seattle Sound".

Funny how people look back and romanticize this because of the cred it gave the city. Today if some creative musician types decided to sit around the lake and do drugs in "Seattle's next million dollar neighborhood" they'd be quickly shipped off to Burien or White Center.

SDtoSEA said...

Wow, San Diego is no where to be found. Not even a hint of worldclassism. We're even ranked below Columbus and Kansas City. Somehow, I have a feeling I might be able to afford a home in one of those places.

Shawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
uptown said...

Since Vancouver BC only comes in with 2 points, Seattle seems to be well placed. Comparing us to cities with metro populations the same as our whole state (or bigger) is a waste of time.

Shawn said...

A world class city is one that does not call itself a world class city--others do. Ever hear any New Yorker try to convince anyone else that New York is world class?

I lived in Seattle from age 11 to 30, then lived in SF, Austin, Dallas, now in LA.

I do love Seattle, but it just ain no LA. That is just reality.

My family lives in Seattle, so sometimes I ponder moving back, but gosh, with my education, I just can't rationalize away those inflated prices, and well there is that rain.

Jazon123 said...

I lived in Chicago all my life until three months ago.
Seattle is not Chicago, Chicago is not seattle.
Life in Chicago is quite fast, here in seattle, very slow.
I like it that way.
But Seattlites are pretty damned naive about big cities, most of the idiots at work don't believe me when I say there are places in Chicago you just don't want to go to, you could be killed because you are white.
I would like to bring them to one of these neighborhoods and drop them off, so they can prove/disprove my point. Of course when they do prove it, they won't be alive to know they were wrong.
Shame.
It is a nice city, not paradise, but nice enough.

Freakazoid Freddy said...

Sure seems like everything Seattle does, they proclaim it "world class".
The sculpture park, the rail system, and let's not forget the "world class" self cleaning toilets.

fj said...

You've never been to NYC? You are just a baby, aren't you?

You shouldn't even be speaking on this subject if you've never been to NYC or San Francisco.