There's really a campus monorail?
February 18, 2010 9:17 AM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about Morgantown, WV?

I'll be interviewing for a job at WVU in a couple of weeks and will have a rental car and most of a day to drive around. What should I see to get a good feel for the area? Where are good places to live? Most interesting things about the town, etc?
posted by MsMolly to Travel & Transportation around Morgantown, WV (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry I don't have time to respond in detail at the moment, but feel free to email me if you have particular questions. I have not lived in Morgantown, per se, but I grew up near there and know several people who can help with specific questions you may have.
posted by arco at 10:25 AM on February 18, 2010

Holy crap. I live here. Memail me, I'm really busy right now but I can help you with any aspect of what you're looking for, it's a decently large part of my job.

Also, it's not a monorail, it's a Personal Rapid Transit, an ancient (early 70's) Boeing proprietary electric tram-car system that spends as much time broken down as it does working. If the university werent' spread across 4 campuses, we wouldn't need it.
posted by TomMelee at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2010

I was born and raised in Morgantown (25 years old now.) my favorite thing about living there was that it boasted a multitude of cultural events and happenin people associated with a university, while still maintaining close proximity to state forests, rivers, and plenty of places to do adventure sport type stuff. Go to cooper's rock out near cheat lake, or the core arboretum located next to the collosium.
Go to zenclay studio and cafe on university avenue for some good coffee and Mediterranean brunch (and check out my artwork upstairs! Heh) Go to Asian Garden in the suncrest neighborhood for Malaysian & Thai vegan buffet. It looks like a crappy hole in the wall at a strip mall, but trust me. The wv brew pub on the corner of university and walnut street is my favorite bar. You can drink local brew at outside tables overlooking the river. Go to 123 pleasant street for live music and college hipsters. Go to the blue moose cafe for coffee and hipsters.
Check out the south park neighborhood for housing. There's gorgeous old houses, or gorgeous old houses chopped up into apartments, depending on your price range. Across town is the suncrest area, where I grew up. It's more of a family suburb if you're into that.
The monorail, better known as the PRT for personal rapid transit, totally kicks ass. Everyone complains about it, but it's the best way to get around a traffic-clogged, hilly town. Built in the 70's, there's nothing else in the country like it. You swipe your student I'd to get onto a platform at various stations around town. A car comes along with an electronic sign indicating where it's headed. You hop on and ride to your destination. Dozens of cars are on the tracks at any given time, so you only wait about 5 for a car. Sorry for the book, but I think the prt is neato.
Despite the whole West Virginia stigma, which makes my heart ache, the school is fantastic. You get more than enough bang for your buck in terms of graduate programs, arts and music events, regular mount stage performances, and beautiful scenery.
Pittsburgh is an easy hour and a half drive north, which I took advantage of.

Some downsides: the sheer volume of pompous, spoiled, drunk kids, and the emphasis on parties, and drinking as the main passtime around campus. That was a real bummer when I went to school there, and I avoided high street and its row of bars on the weekends. Maybe it's the football-fueled male-centric atmosphere, but sometimes it was intimidating to be a young woman in town.

Morgantown is not like the rest of wv. I've lived charleston for 3 years and it was a rude awakening to find that many wv stereotypes do have a basis in reality. People here tell me that Morgantown isn't really wv. No one there has an Appalachian accent...

P.S. I learned proper grammar and spelling here in the most obese state in America, but I typed this on my iPhone so pardon my mistakes :) Sorry for the lengthy answer, but I figured this was the one topic about which I might have more to say than other mefites. Consequently, I've read metafilter for something like 8 years and finally signed up just to answer this question. Good luck with your interview!
posted by Suimeikai at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2010

Ah screw it. I'll type till someone pulls me away.

Morgantown is a pretty nifty little city (lowest unemployment in the country! (Until they advertised that on CNN and we got 5,000 unemployed residents flocking here...))

We're currently under...oh, about 20 inches or so of snow depending on where you live/work, but that's more the exception than the rule. (Elkins, to the south east of us, currently has about 50 inches with more on the way.) Morgantown is a crazy little microcosm of money and opportunity tucked into a state made famous by her extraction economy and the rape of her people.

We've got the highest rate of homeownership in the country, the oldest aggregate population, and the highest percentage of total population with a disability. As a whole, the state is quite poor and generally hurt a lot by a few large industries. Morgantown, on the other hand, exists in a bubble.

Like, our housing market? Still in a bubble. It's slowed but it hasn't popped. Lots of places to live, but university housing creep is a real issue. Subdivisions are springing up in farmland as New Jersey Parents snag up the $100k-$200k houses in the city for the college kids. If you want to know specifically about where to live, memail me, that's a topic unto itself.

We've got football (on game days, the stadium holds more people than any single city in the entire state), basketball, a national championship rifle team, and tons of other site stuff. There are a few fancy restaurants, a few local favorites, and chain-store creep just like any other town. We hate Pitt but for the most part people are Steelers fans.

Let's see...we've got beautiful places nearby (coopers rock! The cheat river canyon! tygart lake! The mon national forest!), skiing nearby (timberline, wisp, canaan valley, snowshoe). In the summer there are triathlons and 80 billion festivals. The Pittsburgh Strip District is just over an hour away.

Most people who come to morgantown willingly, love it. Most of us who have lived here forever...chafe. It's a small town trying to act big time. We've got some pretty major traffic issues (students!), but our crime rate is very very low. We're trying to improve infrastructure, but we can't figure out who should pay for it.

If you wanna let me know what your interests are (music, bars, clubs, restaurants, sports, outdoorsy stuff, whatever) I can give you better info.
posted by TomMelee at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2010

I live in Morgantown. LOVE IT. OK, so it's not the most groomed-looking city. But it's unpretentious, super-safe, low-stress, and it has its own charm that I've never been able to define, especially in the summer. I came here from another country 12 years ago and have bounced around the US, but have always ended up back here.

The academic community is close & friendly. The students are pretty typical for a big state school - a mix of really hardworking native WVs and a lot of slacker out-of-state students basically out for a good time. Football weekends are a lot of fun since half of WV comes up to tailgate. Because of the students it can take a while to figure out which bars are adult-friendly (we like the Brickyard and Jay's Getaway).

Depending on what you like, South Park is the prettiest area, with beautiful old homes (the one across from me is for sale, if you're interested), some of which are still pretty affordable (although as TomMelee points out, we are still in a bubble). It's in walking distance of the downtown campus. First Ward is also good for older (but less grand) homes. There are a lot of brand-new developments from the housing boom, but.. ecch. Suncrest (not super-new, but nice & established) is very popular because it's close to the hospitals. Many McMansions in the country.

In a couple of weeks, you won't really be seeing Morgantown at its finest - it's still winter & there's a ton of snow on the ground & the trees are bare. Coopers Rock may be closed for the season. So that cuts down on what you can see. Take a drive on some country roads (maybe to Cheat Lake & back, and take a ride on the PRT if you get the chance - cheesy 70s goodness. MeMail me if you want to know more.
posted by media_itoku at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2010

My husband is from Morgantown and here's what he has to say:

If you have the time, Cooper's Rock State Forest is a few miles outside of town, but really beautiful. Cheat Lake is probably the nicest area to live in and around Morgantown, but can be a little pricey. Of course, this also depends on how old you are and what you're interested in. The Suncrest and South Park areas are also really nice. The last time we were in town, we had dinner at the Kenyan Cafe - it's not fancy or very well known, but the owner is super nice and the food is delicious!!

A couple of people have mentioned traffic - and while during rush hour and/or sporting events, it can be somewhat heavy, we live in DC now, and Morgantown traffic is nothing compared to what we deal with here or in any other large city.

Overall, Morgantown is a great place to live - and as a non-native, I'll agree with my husband on this, I've really enjoyed my visits there - fun things to do, super nice people, and oh my god, I can't believe no one has mentioned how CHEAP everything is there!! Again, maybe it's because we're in DC now, but the first time I was asked for $2 for a Yuengling at Gene's, my response was "really? no way!" By the way, Gene's is an awesome neighborhood bar, and if you go there during the day, they have some of the best hotdogs in town!
posted by echo0720 at 8:45 PM on February 18, 2010

One thing you need to know about Morgantown is that it is full of HORRIBLE drivers (this is less of a problem when school is not in session). I'd say at least a third of the drivers on the road at any given time drive like they're immortal, suicidal, or homicidal. It's the only place I've ever seen ambulances trying to get down the road where people just don't. move. over. It's also the place where I learned the term "meat shield" (i.e. a pedestrian in the road between you and oncoming traffic, enabling you to make a turn you couldn't have otherwise). Also, with it being a bit of a party town, it seems like a lot of people there (students, mostly) have much lower inhibitions about driving under the influence than normal people should. My friends who attended WVU have said as much about themselves or their peers on many occasions.

Also, my sister (who lived in Morgantown for 2-3 years while she and her husband were in college/med school) told me something about the school having a shockingly high rate of sexual assault, although it mostly doesn't get talked about. I don't remember the number she quoted to me, but I was floored by it at the time. A lot of that is probably related to the party atmosphere that surrounds the school.

All that said, I really like Morgantown. It's a beautiful town with tons of stuff to do and places to go, and I love visiting whenever I can (I'm from Huntington, around three hours away). All in all, though, I don't know if I could imagine making a life there, as it seems like the constant atmosphere of WOOOOOO PARTY!!!!! that comes from a lot of the students would wear you down.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:09 PM on February 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you, guys. This is really helpful. I'm a mid 30s single woman who definitely wants to live away from the student-y areas, but loves quirky old houses and being close to good bars, cafes, and such, if that gives anybody any further suggestions. I'll be checking this thread next week when I come to visit.
posted by MsMolly at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2010

Response by poster: Update: I got a job offer from the library at WVU, accepted it, and will be moving to Morgantown in July!

I'd love to hear more about where to look for apartments that are student-y. I prefer places with character, like old houses, but I am a little bit sick of the grad-student life, so I want to make sure I find a place with a dishwasher and washer and dryer in the apartment or house. Craigslist seems to be mostly places too far out of my price range (which is probably $800/month max) or shitty student apartments. Where are the grownup places listed?

And how far in advance should I start looking for a place if I want to move at the beginning of July?
posted by MsMolly at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Almost forgot. Added level of difficulty: I have two cats. (Very well-behaved cats, but I've noticed a ton of places don't allow pets.)
posted by MsMolly at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2010

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