Friday, April 10, 2009

The Almost Skyline

Soon after I moved to Champaign-Urbana (CU), one of my new friends who had lived here for several years said "People don't decide to stay in Champaign, they just stop thinking about leaving." There are many things to love about CU. The traffic rush hour is essentially non-existent. Yeah, there are more people on the road but a couple of extra minutes at the stoplight isn't exactly gridlock. Housing is affordable. The dirt here is great so yards and gardens are beautiful. There are enough liberal-minded people that I don't feel the suffocating squeeze of conservatism that exists in the more rural areas of the Midwest. The University supports interesting performances at a number of venues. It's a big enough place to have two hospitals so if I have a botched surgery in one, there's another to try. The U of Illinois attracts a culturally diverse population. And, now, we have a marathon!

According to the US Census Bureau, by size, CU is 192nd of 363 US metropolitan areas. Not a very distinguished position. Kind of like being a middle child. Nothing really special about us. We're not the biggest or the smallest. Neither first nor last. No one pays any attention...We're just not inherently special. Take note, however, we almost have a skyline. One of my clients looked at the view from my 5th floor office, including some of the new, taller apartment/retail buildings and asked humorously, "are we getting a skyline?" My response? "Almost."

We don't have a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods. No Container Store or Ikea. No H&M or Anthropologie. No Crate & Barrell or Pottery Barn. We do, however, have 3 Super Walmarts. Woo-hoo! Why not embrace our almost-ness? We can see it as a place of striving. A place where being the 190th largest city is just around the corner.
It's not clear that CU will ever move into the realm of skylines and cityscapes but, hey, as a middle child, I like it just fine.

The sketch is the view from my office. I did some work on it in Photoshop but I'm now having problems editing it -- the lettering is awful. Back to the Photoshop tutorial to learn how to work with layers!]

1 comment:

  1. I like your description of Champaign--and like you, I like it just fine here :)