The Best of Andy Rooney
(Andy Rooney classic column originally published May 1, 1986.)
It's kind of nice that most Americans who live in a city are proud of it. They like their city and they want the rest of the world to like it, too. New York is the only exception.
If you visit any city for a few days, you're left with an impression of what it's like and whether to turn left or right in a few places, but your impression probably doesn't have much to do with what the city is really like.
I have pleasant impressions of dozens of cities and unpleasant impressions of others, but my opinions come from events or sights that were probably not typical of the place. Maybe I had a terrible breakfast in the hotel I stayed at that turned me against the city; maybe I asked directions from a stranger who was so pleasant that I went home thinking everyone in that city was the same way.
This comes to mind because I've spent a lot of time in Boston over the years. I think Boston is a great place to live. A good city has a core where there are lots of people doing different things, and Boston's core is centered around Quincy Market downtown. (I'd be more comfortable if I was certain how to pronounce "Faneuil Hall.")
I could live happily in Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Pittsburgh, San Antonio or Madison, Wis. There are some cities you couldn't make me live in, but I'm not going to mention them in case a newspaper in one of those cities runs my column.
Here are some things for anyone thinking of moving to a city to look for:
-- Check to see if the downtown parts of the city close up and move to the suburbs at 5:30 p.m. You want a city where there are still people on the streets after dark.
-- The presence of one or more colleges is a good sign. You can't beat having a good educational institution for livening up the city.
-- If the biggest cultural event of a season is the basketball game with the traditional rival, you might want to have second thoughts about moving there.
-- The number and importance of country clubs is something to watch for. If everyone seems to belong to one, don't move there.
-- Be wary of a town that allows diagonal parking.
-- Don't move to a city in which the best restaurant is in a hotel.
-- Watch out if there are too many churches and not many bookstores.
-- If the mayor has been in office more than eight years, consider another city.
-- Don't move to a place whose principal shopping center is called "The Miracle Mile."
-- Make certain the railroad station hasn't been turned into a boutique.
-- There should be at least one good hotel that isn't part of a big chain.
-- It's not a good sign if all the police are in cars and none are walking the streets.
-- Look for a bridge that leads into the main part of town. Bridges are a good sign. A bridge means the place was worth going to some trouble to get to.
-- Check to see how many intersections have signs reading, "No Right Turn on Red."
-- Make sure there's at least one bakery that bakes good bread.
-- Perfect symmetry in the layout of the streets is not good. A city should be a little irregular, suggesting that its growth was somewhat haphazard.
-- There should be at least one good news store that's open 24 hours a day.
-- Make sure the city has a good newspaper. It's even better if it has two newspapers, one of which you hate.
-- Don't dismiss a city that has a dishonest local government. Some of them are interesting.
It's not a major city if you can see the water tower with the city's name on it from the center of town.
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Humor & Funny Stories - Before You Ask for the Key to a City... | Andy Rooney
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