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Finding other Somervilles in North America
July 11, 2014 11:08 AM   Subscribe

What neighborhoods or towns in the metro areas of NYC, DC, Toronto, Vancouver, SF, Seattle, and Portland are similar to Somerville, MA (north of Boston)?

Characteristics of Somerville that are most relevant include: location is well-served by public transit, within half an hour by train or bike from downtown, densely populated but plenty of green space, diverse (lots of queers and people of different ethnic/racial backgrounds), "hipster" vibe with lots of funky, cool restaurants and shops, wide range of rental properties and rents, walkable and bikeable. Thanks!
posted by acridrabbit to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
The equivalent in Seattle is most certainly Capitol Hill, though many other neighborhoods in the city have these qualities too (just not to the same degree as Capitol Hill).
posted by joan_holloway at 11:19 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


The best fit in DC is probably Takoma Park.
posted by Adridne at 11:30 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


A little outside your range, but West Philadelphia!
posted by ferret branca at 11:31 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


DC, yeah, Takoma Park, but also Petworth. It really depends on which parts of Somerville you're trying to replicate. Really, most neighborhoods in DC outside of downtown aren't that dissimilar from Somerville.
posted by General Malaise at 11:33 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


In SF you're going to really find a challenge under your "wide range of rental properties and rents" criteria. But one neighborhood that I think otherwise matches well is the Inner Sunset.
posted by imalaowai at 11:36 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Toronto has similar affordability issues to San Francisco's, but this sounds like (West) Queen West.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:39 AM on July 11


Montclair, NJ has a large gay community. I don't know how it ranks on the hipster scale though.
posted by dfriedman at 11:40 AM on July 11


For TO also Parkdale, Junction, Bloor between Spadina and Landsdowne, Danforth (Pape-Donlands), Queen E (Carlaw). 2nding that "wide range of rental properties" is a joke in re anywhere you'd want to be, though.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:44 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I would also suggest Mt. Pleasant in DC.
posted by elisse at 11:47 AM on July 11


N and NE Portland, while way weirder generally and less populated with college students than Somerville, more or less fits the rest of your descriptors. Eastmoreland in Portland probably reminds me to most of Somerville, though without any of the racial/ethnic diversity.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:48 AM on July 11


Cleveland Heights, an eastern suburb of CLE.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:50 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I lived in Davis Square and live in SF now. The neighborhoods that to me seem the most similar to the Davis Square area of Somerville are the Castro and the northeastern part of Noe Valley. (You'd think the Mission would be similar, and it sort of is, but in my opinion it's either too crowded / busy or too gritty to really be the closest neighborhood match to Somerville.) Inner Sunset isn't a bad fit for some of the rest of Somerville.

I'm led to believe that the DC equivalent of Davis Square is Adams Morgan, although I could be wrong about that.
posted by phoenixy at 12:19 PM on July 11


The only part of SF that is within a half-hour of downtown by public transportation is downtown itself.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Also large parts of Berkeley (while not actually in sf or necessarily all that convenient to sf) are also pretty Somerville-like.
posted by phoenixy at 12:33 PM on July 11


Multiple neighborhoods in Brooklyn remind me of Somerville, actually. Except the rents...
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:01 PM on July 11


I think Kensington or Ditmas Park for Brooklyn, Astoria for Queens.
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on July 11


I live in Somerville, MA and if I were to move to SF, where I just visited, I would live in the Inner Sunset. It's hard to say how it's similar... a similar mix of locals and young professionals, maybe? Sort of ignored by those who live in the cool neighborhoods (Cambridge, for example) but full of great restaurants and shops? Much easier to access by transportation than people think, provided you're willing to travel a while? Other than the fact it's cloudy half the time, I loved the Sunset.

Inner Sunset is more Union Sq, Noe Valley is Davis Square. Glenn Canyon might be West Somerville (surprisingly nice, but nothing to do)? Potrero is the wrong side of the McGrath.
posted by maryr at 1:18 PM on July 11


Outside of Toronto, there's Hamilton.
posted by foxjacket at 1:33 PM on July 11


You probably know this, but the other part of Boston that's like Somerville is Jamaica Plain.
posted by maryr at 2:01 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Davis Sq. and was surprised to get a similar vibe from Carrboro, NC when I moved south 5 years ago. Carrboro is just outside of Chapel Hill, near Raleigh and Durham. It's walkable, bikeable, with great night life, loads of hipsters and the coffee shops here serve beer. I know it's not outside a major metro region, but there are cool places off the beaten path.
posted by fzx101 at 5:58 PM on July 11


I don't know much about Somerville, but by your description it sounds like plenty of areas of Queens and Brooklyn would fit the bills. Astoria, Woodside, Sunset Park, Ditmas Park, something like that.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:28 PM on July 11


For Vancouver; West End to Downtown to Yaletown, maybe? Public transit anywhere other than the suburbs is reasonable. Taxi's are stupidly exorbitant. Parking sucks. Trying to be bike friendly, but weather. Hardcore cyclists are hardcore, and certain work places make sure there are shower facilities.

West End - classic (for a young city) LGBT neighbourhood with lots of great food. Walking distance to beaches and DT, maybe Yaletown. Walk to Kitsilano definitely doable over either of two bridges. Lots of trees.

Downtown - if you work in downtown, you won't need a car. If you need one occasionally, there are at least 3 major "shared car" networks. You'll see a tree every so often. Sometimes on top of highrises.

Yaletown - newer developed part of town, much less history. Gentrification woes. But lots of opportunity and lots of turnover.

Commercial - formerly "Little Italy," was hip in the 90's/00's, being en-Franchised (as opposed to gentrified), like most of the city, lately. Trees were mandated to stay at some point.

Kitsilano - super-gentrified after being gentrified from the 60's/70's. Great walkable neighbourhood with lots of access to high quality fresh produce and meats as well as high-end restaurants and good affordable restaurants. Still a few old die hards around, though. Lots and lots of glorious trees.

There are/used-to-be little neighbourhoods in North Van, populated mainly by N./W. Europeans from when the area was first settled, with really neat local crafts'n'stuff stores. A lot of admixture has happened over the last couple of decades, but its been more an accumulation-of-wealth rather than a vibrant transformation. But still tons and tons and tons of wonderful trees.

For "next cool" stuff, maybe there's something going on in Burnaby? /Gibson
posted by porpoise at 10:55 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Somerville, and now I live in Oakland, and I find a lot of similarities.
posted by purplevelvet at 8:26 AM on July 12


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