11.30.2006

University and City

I am increasingly grateful to live in a neighborhood called University City, for universities and cities - and their interconnectedness - continue to rise in importance to our modern economy.  Consider first what cities offer universities: employment and entertainment options for students, research and commercial opportunities for faculty, and a vibrant, amenity-rich environment for all.  Consider second what universities offer cities: student purchasing power, knowledge economy brains, and high-end equipment/services.  Consider third what universities and cities can together offer their regions: academic/industry collaborations, agglomerations of intellectual capital, and cultural resources for all ages. 

Now consider all of the demographic groupings that are flocking to campus and city.  We all know about yuppies, who are drawn by high-skilled jobs and/or a "Sex and the City" social life.  But some of the most attractive urban places for such young professionals happen to be more attractive because they are not only urban but collegiate.  Austin, Boston, and Charlotte come to mind - cool cities for post-grads because the density of young'uns makes for a plethora of musical and romantic and recreational possibilities. 

Second, there seems to be an influx of young families to urban settings.  Inner ring suburbs are becoming no different than cities in terms of the stereotypical negative amenities, like crime and infrastructural deterioration.  Outer ring suburbs are just a little too Wisteria Lane for young parents who prefer easier on-ramps to their bygone youthful socializings.  Cities, on the other hand, offer rich cultural and social opportunities and are cleaning up their acts when it comes to safe streets and tidy sidewalks.  And an abundance of innovative school options, well-kept parks, and kid-friendly museums make raising kids in the city a viable way to go.  

Finally, it's no secret more boomers are retiring to cities, active as they want to continue to be in their post-career years.  It turns out being near universities is also something boomers like, whether to actually go back to school to keep their minds sharp or tap into a long-buried passion or simply to be a part of the hustle and bustle of campus life.  These demographic and geographic trends are making for an interesting mash-up of not only study, work, and leisure, but also of the young and restless with the old and restless. 

I guess what I'm trying to say in all this is that as communities wrangle to amp up their urban and university amenities to tap into all these goodies described above, I feel all the more lucky to already be sitting at the nexus of a vibrant campus and a vibrant city. 
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