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I've got the opportunity to work in either minneapolis or seattle. I've heard great things about both cities but I thought some people may have some other insights into things like:
+ no. of good architecture offices
+ downtown urban life
+ quality of neighborhoods
+ real estate prices / rent rates
Comments would be appreciated.
we got some snow and some cold, but we also, from what i hear, have awesome summers. plus, we tend to have more sun than clouds, and less rain. real estate mucho affordable, when compared to east coast. nightlife good. quality of neighborhoods good. urban life good and with saint paul close by a varied nightlife is available. offices varied as well, corporate, boutique, residential, education....what we don't have is the seattle myth.
minneapolis wins.... does seattle have a michael graves designed adition to its art museum?
in all seriousness though, there really is some really interesting building going on in minneapolis, all be it in isolated pockets, but at least its there. It seems minneapolis is one of few cities, midwestern citites in particular, that is making an honest effort to improve itself and is having success.
I cant comment much on the number of good architecture firms in the city though i know the mill city museum was really impressive and done locally, along with many of the new apartment and condos being built/renovated around the area.
as for downtown urban life, there is plenty of it, i think the city benefits from how massive the UofM is... it allows minneapolis to maintain its fair share of bars/restaurants... stuff like that.. but it isnt a very big city so i have often found choices limited and spotty.
i think the big benefit of minneapolis over seattle is going to be the quality of neighborhoods and rent rates... obviously minneapolis is significantly cheaper than seattle... whether or not seattle's neighborhoods are significantly better than minneapolis though, i can not say for certain, though i doubt it to be overwhelmingly so.
maybe, maybe not. st louis, indy, louisville, cinci, and nashville seem to be doing ok, too.
but i do remember from when i lived there: minneapolitans usually have a rather inflated view of their city.
funny thing is i have a similar quandry. trying to decide between minneapolis, austin, seattle, san francisco and austin.
here's what i've heard about
seattle (from friends who I have polled):
"Seattle - amazingly small, big, walkable, flyable,
you can paddle and sail away. mountains. expensive
as any coastal city. funky arts and scooters, airline
hub, close to canada, orcas, baseball games you can
walk to... ultra diverse off area MLK and othello..."
"more friendly and it has small town community with a big city. The city is not as “edgy” as San Francisco but I think it has a very similar feel. It’s very diverse."
what i've heard about Minneapolis:
"Have never lived there -- have a dear friend of 20+ years who lived there for a long time and LOVED it. Bad winters for sure, but amazing arts community and forward thinking. Great architecture. Don't know about cost of living."
"We have been through Minneapolis and also heard a lot of great things about it. I think they handle the winters well through advanced thinking."
i have all kinds of rankings on walkability and sustainability, cost of living, etc., but it's at home..... more later.
On my recent visit to Seattle, I did notice the similarity to San Francisco. Something about the hills, the buildings, the waterfront, there's some feel that they both have that's hard to pin down. I found Seattle not only to be very walkable, but had a very good public transportation system (though the fare rates are hard to understand), and way friendly. I am a person that feels like blowing up at 3 people/day, minimum, and I went three days in Seattle without getting mad at anyone, because everyone was so nice. Well, not driving may have ahd something to do with it too.
Darth- nothing personal, but go to seattle! we have enough architects in mpls already;-)
kidding aside, quality of life in mpls can be said to be above average in the summer time, and sucking in the winter. Seattle seems to be going through a bigger economic upswing then the twin cities and benifits by proximity to asia, while mpls is close to....
if you plan on settling down, mpls is a great family town. seattle seems to be more the place that people go to for a few years before moving on.
depending on where you are coming from, your perspective and impression of each city will vary significantly... so where are you currently?
*that second austin should have been atlanta
im not meaning to be compbative, but my experience in the midwest is that population centers rarely have any real desire to be anything more than just population centers. even right across the river, st paul doesnt seem to have nearly the direction minneapolis does. I do not agree that even St Louis is showing the marked improvment minneapolis is. I grew up in kansas city and found it to be in accordance with the majority of midwestern cities visited. Lacking character and not interested in developing it. And lacking a center and direction, and uninterested in seriously developing that as well.
this is coming from someone born and raised in the midwest.
the bottom line to all this is that minneapolis impressed me and continues to do so when i visit for any length of time
ok, lletdownl. i'll let you off the hook. i was just responding from my own experience:
year 1: wide eyed, interested, tried to get involved, thought the great white north was kinda cool.
year 2: couldn't get involved with anything i found interesting. arts communities too tight-knit for me to get involved. weather was cold, so were the people.
year 3: cold. will the cold never end? cold. > got out.
maybe it's different now. i just remember at the time constantly hearing from the locals how great it was and how smart minnesotans were and how liberal and non-racist (compared to where i was from) and ...
it was seen as a compliment to tell me that i didn't sound like i was from the south, that i sounded more educated. < NOT an uncommon comment, either! and i thought it was all bs.
hahaha, stevens right on... minnesotans know they are the shit hahaha...
i find that in chicago... i think the prejudice against the south is a northern thing accentuated in northern cities... its pretty rampant in chicago too...
I currently live in Halifax, NS - but I'm from Vancouver Island.
been to halifax- sweet little canadian city. reminded me of providence RI in scale and charecter (with less corruption).
Knowing your maritime pedigree, you'll find seattle much more comfortable and familiar. If you want change come to mpls. as SW wrote, it is cold up here. The jury is still out on how long I'm going to last...
seattle has a venturi designed addition to its art museum... as well as brad clopefil.
i think as far as architecture firms go, seattle has several that are very well known, but not so easy to break into. more so than minneapolis i am guessing. this seems to have a trickle down effect, though. i do fell that there are too many cutler-esque wanna be's that really ruin a good thing up here. a lot of firms consider themselves nw modern... i'm not really sure what the hell that is, but some of them actually do decent work.
seattle's downtown life is schizophrenic at best. downtown seattle clears out at night. during the day it's mostly architects and lawyers (half kidding)
as far as nightlife - there are several hubs/neighborhoods and all seem to be swamped with tweakers from UW on the weekends. the music scene is better than minneapolis i'm guessing as well. plus there is an eclectic mix of restaurants and several decent markets (pike place, owajemiya, etc)
quality of the neighborhoods is really pretty much the same, with the only major difference being price and views. outside of capital hill and downtown, it's all single family housing as far as the eye can see. it certainly hasn't helped housing costs, and with an influx of a million people expected in the nexty 20 years, there will have to be some major overhauls of the way people live here to adapt. but each nighborhood has its own distinct history and appeal.
real estate prices are really jacked (see above) and it's probably only going to get worse. seattle is kind of insulated from other markets as there aren't near as many speculative homebuyers as in florida, arizona or ca. and again, with the influx, i only see more competition for houses, leading to a buyers market for several years. rent can go either way. if you are looking for something smaller, there are several places under $800 on the periphery of downtown. houses can get really expensive, some of my cohorts share (like 6 people in a house, it's worse than college)
we had almost 100 straight days of precipitation last year, but that was followed up by about 100 straight days of summer sun. i think the hottest it got was high 90s, low 100s. and when that happens, a lot of people jettison to the mountains to escape the heat. it doesn't get that cold at all (seattle got a few flurries) but it can be extremely windy and the constant rain can be numbing. if you enjoy the outdoors (which seattle has a ton of access to) you just have to suck it up and head out.
also, we don't have the mosquito problem i remember the land of a thousand lakes having. in fact, there aren't many bugs at all...
but we do have cougars and bears and canadian tourists (oh my)
the arts scene in seattle is terrible at best.
additionally, i am surprised at rationalist's comments - seattle has the worst public transport of any major city i've ever been to... and the drivers here are worse than florida's snowbirds. traffic here is horrendous. and it's only going to get worse as a number of engineering feats (joking, feats they're not) are going to be botched... i mean built in the next 15 years or so.
holz, my comments must be taken with knowledge of my perspective: the only cities I've lived in are Los Angeles (with TERRIBLE public transport) and Phoenix (which is even worse!). I have lived in Los Angeles for 7 years and the system is incomprehensible to me. It is very difficult to find information on from the street level (easy on computer, but when if you need info at the bus stop?). By contrast, I was in Seattle for three days, and felt perfectly confident navigating the public transportation there: street signage was extremely clear, with not only every bus which stopped at a location mentioned, but bus routes mapped out at many of them as well. Every single stop was announced, and no stops were skipped. The drivers and riders were friendly and (mostly) clean. I was never lost, because the drivers never deviated from a published route. In addition, pamphlets were available on each bus not only for that bus route, but for common connector routes, and these were well stocked throughout the day. Also, while the rates system is a bit confusing, the 'free zone' downtown is a nice idea, and one transfer ticket is free.
Maybe I have low standards, but by comparison to what I have known, that is excellent!
minneapolis's music scene is much better than seattles...
though thats only based on the type of music i like... check out tapes n tapes and hot snake if they are still together
Steven - The Twin Cities are larger in population than St. Louis, Indy, Cincy, Nashville and Louisville. In the midwest Mpls-St. Paul is the largest area behind Chicago and Detroit. Minnesota also has more Fortune 500 headquarters than Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana...possibly Ohio. So, from a midwestern standpoint, Mpls-St. Paul is one of the bigger players. Chicago of course is the 800 lb gorilla of the region.
My take on the MN winters is you acclimate and get used to them much like I did to the humidity of living on the Gulf Coast. That said, right now I am really looking forward to seeing leaves on the trees. It does get long and annoys me at times. However you do appreciate the summers more (which are beautiful) and with global warming our winters certinaly won't be getting worse. Ha ha!
Not being from MN originally I have found a little bit of a MN clique amongst the locals. Many natives who have never lived outside the state, are very close minded about the nation/world and ignorant to match. Same can be said of the view many New Yorkers have of us in "fly over" country. I don't have patience for either type of person.
However I have met many great Minnesotan's, and the demographics seem to be rapidly changing with great influx of people brought in given the size the area has become, similar to a NYC or Chicago, just at a smaller scale. This is a place becoming more of a global city, much to do with the companies/employment here, but still with the Scandanavian influence that really formed the early city.
Yes, Minnesotans like to talk up their town more than others. I take the view that the Twin Cities have things to be proud of given the remarkable things people from here have accomplished and done for this area. In all reality there isn't a geographic reason for Mpls-St. Paul to have the influence or size it has. In that right Seattle has a large advantage. However, Minnesotans have built this place from the ground up, from a little milling town at the north end of the Mississippi to a metro of 3M+ people, major corporate center, international gateway, etc. That's something to be proud of and I don't fault people for being vocal in their pride.
okay okay, i take it all back! my three years of trying to live there must have been unrepresentative of what life in mpls is really like.
i do love louisville, however. having never been here before, within a week of moving here [ahem, "temporarily", ahem] in '94, i was involved in things and felt welcomed. and i was warm.
and i still take issue with lletdownl's 'making an honest effort to improve itself' as a minneapolitan distinction.
I've lived in Seattle for 8 years now, so I can give you some advice...
The tech boom of the 90s brought a tremendous amount of cash to the Seattle area, creating markets for custom residences, new libraries, museums, office buildings, etc. In my time here, there really hasn't been a slow down period. Therefore there are a lot of good firms doing good work in Seattle ranging from small offices doing residential design-build all the way up to corporate juggernauts. However, the architecture community is a fairly small & tight knit bunch. There are only a handful of firms doing modern work with the majority of firms doing that "northwest modern" schlock that I find to be disgusting - including Cutler.
The downtown core pretty much closes down at 6. The mayor and city council have been trying to reverse this for years but to no avail. Seattle is a city of neighborhoods and each one has it's own vibe, depending on your interests. Each neighborhood has it's own unique collection of restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. depending on your mood. The indie music scene is still thriving and there are tons of bars, clubs, and other venues to catch both local and national acts.
Which neighborhood you choose to live in says a lot about the type of person you are in Seattle. Are you a Hipster? Gay? Punk? Granola/hippie? Student? Rich & Preppy A-hole? There's a neighborhood for you in Seattle! The suburbs outside of Seattle are plagued by the same cookie-cutter sprawl that the rest of the country is used to.
Real estate and rent are grossly overpriced thanks to the influx of all the tech money. All the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to downtown (still have a Seattle address) are predominantly pre-1960 single-family houses that I'd say are no larger than 2000 sf. Two architect friends of mine recently purchased one of these houses (only 1200 sf) in West Seattle for almost half a million dollars. In most other cities, this house would be considered a tear down. It's that crazy. My wife and I rent a one bedroom apt in an old brick building in a very nice neighborhood - we pay a grand a month. Because single family houses are so expensive, condos are being built at a break neck pace. Even these are overpriced. $200K+ for a 400 sf studio.
Seattle locals complain that traffic is horrible, but I grew up outside of DC, so I find Seattle traffic to not be so bad. I think the problem is that Seattle drivers can't drive period. The bus system is pretty good for getting around and light rail is coming soon.
If you're an outdoorsy person, you'll love Seattle - it's paradise and close to all things outdoors.
It rains pretty much constantly from October thru June and can get rather windy (sideways rain). The winters aren't very cold (got down into the 30s only a handful of times) and the summers are spectacular. All sun, no humidity, and the temps rarely break the 85 degree mark.
Hope this helps
Thanks for the responses - very helpful.
Treekiller - you trying to keep me out of minneapolis makes me want to go there even more. Kinda like the Costanzas moving in on the Seinfelds at Boca Del Vista. :)
i don't think this is a tough question to answer.
UW Seattle. Go there.
MDLER WAS HERE
great work mdler... we are all terribly impressed
The one thing I can say about Minneapolis is that the culture and quality of live of the central city has improved greatly in the eight years I have lived here (Most central cities have improved). When I moved to Minneapolis for school I never thought I would have stayed a minute more than was needed. It should be noted that I grew up in the Midwest. Also if you want to take in some culture in another city keep in mind Minneapolis is a long ways to the next closest city.
Yes people from Minneapolis talk up the city a lot more than they should. Also I really do not want to make broad reaching comments, but as stated earlier people from the Twin Cities are pretty close minded and conservative even for the Midwest.
The architecure scene seems very comparable to Seatlle, there are firms that are nationaly know big and small. Every year it seems someone from the Twin Cities wins the AIA's Young Practice Award. It is not that easy to break into the job market in Minnesota because it does attract a lot of Architects from the surrounding region. On the plus side Target and Best Buy are headquartered here so you can always work on those.
As far as midwestern cities go Minneapolis always comes in at the top of the list as far as overpriced housing (still not even in Seattle's ballpark though). There is probably a neighborhood for everyone somewhere in the Twin Cities, actually Minneapolis and St. Paul have very different cultures. Also there are neighborhoods that are not as bad as advertised with single family homes close to downtown in the $160,000 range.
The weather actually is only truly bad for Jan. Feb. and parts of Dec. and March, otherwise you can feel free to do most outdoor activities.
Seattle was probably the first city I thought about moving to when I graduated. The thing is cities Like Seattle and Minneapolis have sort of built a reputation for a certain way of life. The question is if it is deserved or are there better alternative places to live. How about Millwaukee and Portland.
Darth- As a newly arrived bicoastal with california attitudes and NY humor, I found mpls difficult to break into. So far the few people I've really bonded with are transplants as well. There is no 'Northwoods Style' hegemony like seattle has. There are a few significant designers, VJAA (as you know;), Julie Snow, MS&R for the current generation, and Ralph Rapson sheparding his deciples along. The U has a long standing sustainable design program that is finally coming out from under it's rock. (it started as the center for underground buildings back in the 70's). A few interesting professors seem to make Rapson Hall home, but not to the profile of UW's esteems monks.
I can't say that the downtown streets roll up at 6pm around here, but they start to get sleepy after most of the worker drones (myself included) go home. The skyway is one of the strangest privatized public spaces I've encountered - but very welcome in the sub-zero weeks of january and february.
there is an inferiority complex that seems to be driven by people who have never lived anywhere else. The city has the best park system I've enjoyed, most neighborhoods/residential areas are within blocks of lakes, parkways, rivers and more. housing costs are very affordable after living in LA & NY, but you will experience stickershock compared to Halifax. NHL is huge, high school hockey is bigger.
If you come and visit, I'll buy you a beer!
Aqua- are you in the twin cities? haven't quite figured out if you are or just lived here a while ago. If still here, drop me a note...
what part of dc? grew up around springfield/burke, used to drive into the city all the time to pick up my mom so i could have the car. i don't ever remember traffic being bad. if anything, on my last trip back a few years ago, it was much worse then. unless you were talking about the woodrow wilson bridge...
but i'll gladly second that seattle drivers can't drive for squat.
i'm praying with the onset of cloepfil's seattle art museum extension, marion weiss's olympic sculpture garden and oma's blessed cathedral of learning that we can slowly phase out the "northwoods style" into something that represents our time a little better.
and darth, i would give a lot of thought to portland. it's a great "small" city, there's a lot going on, and housing is much cheaper than seattle. there are some really good architects there as well. but oregonians are a little odd...
holz - I went to Lee High School. When's the next Seattle Archinect Summit? I'll be sure to attend...
small effing world - west springfield.
i have no clue - i missed the last as well.
I graduated in '93. My sister still lives in the area - I can't stand going back there to visit - sprawl central...
you've got a few years on me. last time i went back, i was appalled at how built up it was around bull run. nastiness
Mpls fashion sense tends towards the granola and practical. You'll see a fair share of the midwestern specimen called a 'holiday sweater' and other varieties of this genus with puppies or other obnoxiously bad taste walking around town. The Mall of America is lacking fashion forward retailers such as Zara, American Apparel and Barney's. Ok, we have a Saks 5th outlet, a Neiman Marcus and local chain formerly known as Daytons that is now a Macy's in downtown. But this place isn't great for shopping beyond the pedestrian stuff found at tarjey.
So what can you expect from Seattle? Is everybody still wearing plaid?
Coffee wise, better brews in Seattle, even though the second largest chain (caribou coffee) is based in Mpls-St. Paul. both places have lots, and lots of independent coffee houses to chill and get a buzz on. Seattle has better beer. A few local breweries in the twin cities are good, but the pacific northwest is my favorite origin for good suds.
Art world- the Walker wins hands down. Best little art museum in the country that has been churning through great contemporary art for the past three decades. The local art scene may be a little claustrophobic, but enough serious art of international importance gets curated from our shiny new crinkled metal box. I've been hearing good things from the Mpls Symphony too- don't know much about seattle's classical scene. Radio, Minnesota public radio is one of the top national producers, so no lack for choices on the dial...
holz and dml, i was born and raised in and around the dc area and am now in seattle too. left dc in 94 when i was 27. don't ever want to move back.
I'm a Minneapolis native who recently moved to NYC for grad school, and all I can say is I'm missing the midwest big-time. I probably tend to be one of those people who exagerates Mpls's virtues, but the biggest strength of the town is its sense of community. Because there's not a lot of migration, people really care about the place and making it an interesting and quality city to live in. Neighborhoods are plentiful and have distinct and charming characteristics. There's a lot of community involvement/investment on a very local level.
I do think its true that it can be hard to 'break into' as people tend to be pretty rooted in their circles of friends/colleagues, but if you get it, its great fun. You just need someone to show you around.
Winters are a bitch...no getting around that.
Summer on the other hand is a 4 month party.
i will say the DMV in Minnesota is a fucking drag.
the restaurants are interesting, hmong, middle eastern, italian [or what they think passes as italian, i say that because no-one knew what a zeppole was], indian, kurdish, egyptian, ethiopian, greek, polish, some somalian i think, chinese [nothing like nyc though or at least have not found any].
oh, and lofts are all the rage here, about 30 years behind new york, but if you can find one unmolested by some ultra hip architect or interior decorator they can be had for about 1/10th of NYC...
chop suey still lives. then there are cream cheese wontons, artichoke dip, and cheese/butter on everything. the food is bland, very bland. tabasco is too spicy- hell, black pepper is too spicy for most of these folks.
there is no local cuisine that is worth exporting to the rest of the country. No NYC/Chicago style hot dawgs, or pizza; cinci has chili size; SF has sour dough; LA perfected the hamburger, invented the french dip and frou frou restaurants; bbq rules the south, boston has clam chowder and baked beans; wisconsin is cheese, and i could go on. But what did minnesota contribute? tuna noodle surprise aka the hot dish! YUMM (I think not).
on letterman, al franken was asked why minnesota was so windy.
answer= because the Dakota's Blow and Wisconsin sucks.
we got our own chop suey beeotch...
long overdue for a decent show, though.
also, the best burger i've ever had - in jamaica at a friend's summer house.
i'm not even sure if it was beef. but it was to die for.
i do make a mean three bean chili if that counts. they do like their walleye, hot dish, venison, squirrel, possum, and anything else that moves, swims or flies food.....hmmm...hmmm good!
I love minneapolis, I miss minneapolis, I want to go back to minneapolis. The only thing keeping me from moving back after grad school is my desire to expand my personal experience. I love Chicago, I love New York, but Minneapolis...man...just something about it. Its cheap enough to get in right now, and there is no doubt that property values with grow grow grow. I constantly hear about all my fav bands going there (as I still listen to the public indie radio station The Current online) and I miss the summers and the wonderful biking and park systems they have. Art galleries galore, and the #2 theatre city in the country.
"Minneapolis, has more theaters than Boston, more parks than Denver, more golfers per capita than any other city in America, and with 10,000 lakes in the state, Minnesota, has more coastline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined."
It was also named "Most Fun City".
The cold, yeah it gets cold, but honestly aside from 1-2 weeks of hell a year, you get really used to it. There's plenty of tunnels and skyways connecting buildings, and Minnesotans have a very jovious and endearing outlook on it. In fact, some winters I actually miss the cold.
Here's a radio clip from The Current that talks about some cool and funny Minnesota Best ofs.
SuperBeatleDud - I agree with you that I love many other cities around the USA and Canada. Actually would love to move and experience a few new places. However, something unique to the twin cities is how this city isn't very transient. People come to stay. That has a profound effect on the quality of life. When someone plans on living somewhere for a lifetime of course they have an invested interest in making it a better place to live. From my experience no other city this size has that kind of attitude. Small cities yes, but if I had a dime for everyone living in a Chicago or NYC or LA that has talked about "getting out" once they are ready to raise a family.
Steven - I agree it's not fair to say other cities don't make an effort to improve themselves. Then again, this city is vastly different from where it was in 1994. Remember that was 13 years ago already. Back then nobody would've even considered Mpls on par with a Seattle. The only thing that hasn't changed since then is the cold, which you do have valid complaints about. However I would complain that Seattle doesn't get hot enough. I love a good sweltering 95 degree day. I've visited Seattle & Portland in mid-August and felt cold. To each their own on the climate I guess.
My wife is originally from Canada and she summed it up pretty good the other night. After a recent trip home to see family she said, "flying into MSP was flying home. I miss my friends, but I don't miss Canada, I love it here."
Treekiller - I'm still here in MSP.
aqua- Stourley and I are trying to do something this weekend. Care to join us? We still haven't figured out what or where, but probably will focus on coffee and architecture. we can all wear 'architecture sucks' shirts...
Sounds great but I'll be in Chicago this weekend. Nor do I have an "architecture sucks" t-shirt. Damn!
aqua- let us know when you're around. Only one of us needs to wear an architecture sucks shirt to be identifiable. Enjoy Chicago!
Stourley- pick a neighborhood joint and I'll be there.
treekilla, any thoughts on the above?
give me a ring if you have a place in mind.
i'll eat in hades anyday! see ya there.