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Having lived in Boston for around 30 years, I've noticed now and then that many people there are confused about what a city is. Since every two-bit hamlet in New England that has outgrown the "town meeting" system of government sees fit to call itself a city, this is understandable.

city, n.: a more-or-less contiguous region served by a 24-hour public transit system and possessing at least one walkable district containing 24-hour restaurants, food markets, bars, and coffee shops

New York, London, Tokyo; Chicago, Seattle, even (as I'm discovering) New Orleans: these are cities; Boston, by contrast, is an agglomeration of college towns. Boston hasn't yet even managed to annex most of its major neighborhoods: if it were a city, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville would all be part of it for sure, as probably would Malden, Revere, Arlington, Medford, Dedham, Chelsea, Waltham, and so on. As it is, not a single subway line stays within the "city".

Since Boston has abdicated its seemingly natural leadership role in the region, there is something of a power vacuum crying to be filled. Of the various neighborhoods served by subway lines and calling themselves "city", I continue to believe that Somerville has the strongest natural claim, not least because we are free of major ties to any of the local degree-granting institutions, allowing us to act as a neutral arbiter rather than a captive government like our neighbors to the north and south. Write to your mayor, councillor, or selectbeing today and tell them you want to merge with Somerville.

Date: 2010-11-22 11:36 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] reddragdiva
"served by a 24-hour public transit system"

Melbourne is barely one of these. Perth isn't, but then Perth is 1.6 million people in an area three times that of London. Does Los Angeles have a 24-hour public transport system? You Boston people, you're lucky.

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Aaron D. Ball

December 2010

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