Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

Darien, CT to New York City

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Although I have lived in many different places and countries, I technically grew-up in Darien, Connecticut. Having spent my middle and high school years there, I now call the small, suburban town home. After moving out of my house two years ago, I have a newfound appreciation for the town I once found intolerable. Now that I do not live there anymore, I am grateful for the fresh air, open space, and quiet and cleanly roads.

Darien is a quintessential New England town and one of the most affluent places in the United States. The homes are large and the yards larger. Winding country roads twist and turn through forests and massive houses that are sized for hotels. Along the Long Island Sound beautiful mansions are positioned along the coastline. Darien has four country clubs (all with extensive waiting lists and a hefty admissions fee), a hunt club, and two yacht clubs. Darien is mainly a residential town with some stores, a few restaurants, and a few chain-stores along the Post Road (all strictly controlled by the town’s founding fathers). The car is used to get anywhere, even up the street to a friend’s house.

This suburban town houses mainly nucleur families with proper housewives (and scandals) and kids who excel at sports and strive for Ivy League colleges, while being safely brought up in a sheltered community which is tight-nit and familiar. There is one middle school and one high school and everyone knows everyone. Many Darientites (real term) grow up in Darien and raise their own kids there as well. Moving there as a 12-year-old from Los Angeles was a shock for me, as well as my whole family. The Indian summer and sprawling forests were a pleasant change, but we were not used to the conservative nature of this small East Coast town. The people seemed uniform and striving to be the perfect residents for a perfect coastal New England town. There are many interesting and down-to-Earth people in Darien once you really look, but there are also many welathy people that live rather protected lives.The people, perfectly manicured lawns, and typical American ideals are a point of awe and confusion to my family in Europe.

As comforting and tranquil it now is to go home (for a few days), the second I was able to leave I moved the opposite of Darien: London, England. After London, I moved to Midtown Manhattan in New York City. As draining as it is, I thrive on the city and its energy. I left the Long Island Sound for the Hudson, the expansive green lawns for concrete sidewalks, a quiet house for a loud apartment practically on the street, a car for the subway and walking, and homogeneous residents for the largest variety of people in the world.

Although Darien will always be part of me, I am always ready for a new adventure and prefer the bustling city life to the monotonous suburban life.

Below are sections of the song “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds (covered by The Decemberists) that I believe explains Darien, Connecticut to a certain extent.

Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same.
And the people in the houses, All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes, And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers, And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky, And they all look just the same.
And they all play on the golf course, And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children, And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp, And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes, And they come out all the same.
And the boys go into business, And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky, And they all look just the same.

Sent by Kim from Darien, CT

Orange, Connecticut

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

The landscape flashes by through the window; at first it is buildings, then the gray starts to thin out and is replaced with blurred brown and green resembling trees. The train ride from New York City to where I live in Orange, Connecticut is one that shows great contrast. Looking through the window one could see how the two locations are visually and social different.

I come from the small town of Orange in the state of Connecticut. It is similar to the stereotypical suburban town. There are houses that are just a little too close together, that look similar to each other. Unlike the suburbia of 1950s television shows, in my town there are no sidewalks or identical cars with cookie cutter families in each home. There are areas in my town that are farmland with animals and crops. Driving down the street one can see different landscape and architectural design used to create individuality in the neighborhood.

Living in such a small town means that there is a lot of community. Orange has many town activities that being the neighbors together such as the Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival and the Fall Arts Fair. Having such a close-knit community had its drawbacks. This environment allowed for everyone to be in each other’s business. There is often gossip going around town and it is garneted that my mother will be informed when I am at the local grocery store one morning before school. Having a constant surveillance results in safety, but it also was an invasion of privacy. Now where I live in New York City the neighbors do not even know your name, never mind caring where you go or when.

My favorite part about living in Connecticut was the ability to be barefoot. I had the freedom to walk to my backyard barefooted and not feel any shame or disgust. When I was little I would love to walk outside and feel the earth beneath my toes. As soon as I smelt the fresh scent of flowers and mowed lawn, I would automatically be transported to my imaginary world of fairies and mystery. It is this connection to nature that I miss when I live in the city.

Growing up in a town like Orange Connecticut was nice. There was something special about the community and nature that made an impact on my life. But New York City was calling for me, and as I grew older I found myself spending less time in my small town and more time on the train to the fast paced life of New York City.

Sent by Taryn from Orange, Connecticut