Where can they buy matzah?
May 19, 2006 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Advice for native NYCers moving to Lexington, KY?

A very good friend of mine is moving with her boyfriend to Lexington where he has secured a teaching position at UK. She has lived most of her life in NYC, and her boyfriend in a former New Yorker who has been living in Nottingham, England for the last few years. As a born and bred southerner, I have been trying to help them prepare for the "change", but I don't know much about Lexington. Any recomendations on the cool and interesting side of the city? Are there any places that might remind them of NYC? Also, they are looking for a place to live near campus, but want to steer clear of soulless apartment complexes. Any specific streets or neighborhoods that they should consider? Thanks!
posted by kimdog to Travel & Transportation around Lexington, KY (10 answers total)
Though it has been a while since I lived there, Lexington is a lovely college town that will in no way remind them of New York. Not to say it lacks interesting things, just that those attractions are not like those of New York.

As they look for non- cookie cutter apartment complexes, they should look within the confines of New Circle Road. Beyond that boundary (and better yet, beyond Man O' War Blvd.) is the definition of sprawl. In terms of cool neighborhhods, I recall several professors of mine living off Richmond Road in areas like South Ashland, and on Fincastle Streets and Fontaine, just off Euclid Avenue near campus. Despite its close proximity to campus, these areas never felt too much like an extended dorm complex.

Finally, living in that area would put them near Magee's Bakery which is a good old southern bakery offering biscuits, scones, cakes, and home made doughnuts. Good luck to your friends in their transition to a new life.
posted by Verdant at 9:50 AM on May 19, 2006

I was born in Charleston, SC but raised in Brooklyn, and then moved back to SC after school. I love both places for their respective reasons but the South and the North have nothing in common, I don't care if you're even talking about Atlanta or Charlotte, probably the 2 biggest cities down here.

Anyway, I would suggest a prolonged visit if at all possible, at least a weekend, if not a week. G/L.
posted by BillyG at 10:00 AM on May 19, 2006

I had some culture shock just moving from Louisville to Lexington! I now live in Detroit (but am about to move to Morehead KY, also for a prof position). Are there any places that will remind them of NYC? No. Not even remotely. They could visit Louisville or Cincinnati for some urban spaces.

Not to knock on Lexington - I lived there for seven years. Some of my closest friends live there. But I found it to be the most SUBurban place I've been to. It's neither urban (and I worked downtown in the tall buildings) nor rural. It's just ... suburban. The people there are SUPER-friendly. The pace of life will be much slower, which has its pros and cons. You don't have to hurry as much, but other people won't hurry for you, either.

If I moved there (and I'll be about an hour away in very rural Morehead), I would live downtown on a numbered street. I used to housesit for a couple that had a restored Victorian on Second Street and that was really nice. When I left, restored Victorians were still VERY affordable. Someone used to NYC prices will be pleasantly surprised.

Cool side of the city? Hmmm... well, my favorite parts were the sincere, eccentric, street philosophers that I seemed to meet around every corner there. What's great about Lexington (and KY and the South in general) is that people actually have TIME to become a real friend. I have some good friends here, but we're all much busier.

I will say, in my opinion, Kashmir (on Limestone near UK) had better North Indian food than places I tried in Jackson Heights or here in Ann Arbor / Detroit. AA does have better South Indian. I would say the Lexington institution for me (and all around weird place) was Loudon Square Buffet on Loudon and Harrodsburg Rd heading to the highway. That was actually covered in this thread.

What is your friend teaching? My EMail is in my profile if you want to pass it on...
posted by Slothrop at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2006

I don't have much specific to add, but I'll reiterate the general consensus that this will be a huge change. Caveat -- I'm not a resident of Lexington, but I've been several times.

This picture just about sums up Lexington for me. The metro area is very small, and the city very quickly turns into horse farms, as you see in the pic. There's an urban growth boundary that aims to protect the area from rampant sprawl, and the sprawl there is nothing compared to the shining stars of the "New South." There's a fair amount of historic homes and charming neighborhoods.

One more thing -- these people love their basketball. It can be alarming.
posted by cramer at 12:16 PM on May 19, 2006

I grew up in Lexington, and still have family and friends living there. I'll second Slothrop and verdant's suggestions about neighborhoods. There's also an area around the intersection of S. Limestone and Waller Ave., and then Rosemont Gardens (further out Lime). There are interesting apartments and houses basically anywhere within about a mile of campus, although within the Aylesford area there are some serious problems with the usual student/frat-boy behavior.

They shouldn't even look for anything to be like NYC. Nothing will be. Well, except they can go bet on horse races, live or simulcast. Forget public transit. It's usually faster to walk. The bus ain't coming.

They should be sure to try the doughnuts at Spalding's (formerly Mrs. Spalding's), now on Winchester Rd. They will have to get there very early before they run out, though.

The cool and interesting sides to the city? Keeneland. The Lexington Cemetery. Close to very good hiking areas and parks. See the answers in this thread, about a short stay in Lexington.

As to matzoh: almost all Kroger's have little "ethnic" food sections. There's usually matzoh, gefilte fish, and other basic stuff. I called a friend to confirm this, and was told that the Kroger on Romany Rd. has a very large Jewish/kosher section. It should also be available at Good Foods Co-Op. The same friend also tells me that Temple Adath Israel is now selling its own brand of bottled water, called H2Oy.

And yeah, they should *definitely* visit before they move.
posted by dilettante at 1:55 PM on May 19, 2006

I lived in Lexington for 12 years and now live in Manhattan. I can say in summary that there is practically nothing about Lex that will remind them of NYC or reproduce that type of stimulating, diverse lifestyle. That said, it's best to look on the move as a chance to appreciate a different kind of life moreso than trying to fit a former style into a new place. Lex has a lot of beauty and fun, but not if one is constantly expecting the immediate gratification and endless entertainment of NYC.

As for housing -- I would recommend they pick a place outside of the immediate vicinity of UK in which to live. Reasons for that are that the UK area is for the most part surrounded by older, more dilapidated (sometimes student) houses, the UK buzz can be a bit suffocating if you're not into basketball and watching the undergrads mill about in their cars, and they'll definitely want to go home to a fresh atmosphere that doesn't remind them of work all the time. They'll soon realize that everyone who lives in Lex either works at UK, goes to/went to UK, or is very close to someone who belongs in either category. So if you're surrounded by the place and its people all of the time, it is extremely refreshing to go home and have a sanctuary.

Downtown Lexington should not be seen as any sort of attempt to recreate (on a small scale) the excitement of an urban area. They'll find some interesting restaurants and shops in the area, but for the most part downtown is a forlorn place populated with some number of office workers during weekday lunch, millions of blue/white sweatshirt wearers on UK game days at Rupp Arena (which is downtown), and very few people for the rest of the time. It is not filled with convenience stores, open-to-the-street boutiques, and bustling streams of people. It's more like a place of work for the bigger banks, etc and some older homes and historic sites.

I'd recommend for housing that they learn to embrace the suburbs but that they find one that appeals to their character. They could try some of the apartments (duplexes, 4-plexes mostly) in the Ashland area which is proximal to UK or they could move out Tates Creek Road/Alumni Drive and check out some of the apartment complexes in those areas. These are much less soulless (and are a bit more established) than are most of the complexes extending past New Circle as mentioned by another poster above. The few downtown areas mentioned by dilettante are great suggestions for places that are a bit more "urban" in feel and have great historic character if they can find something that fits them.

Jewish goods can be found as detailed above, but I think it's worth mentioning that in 12 years of living there I never ran into anyone who let me know they were Jewish. Perhaps they were and I never knew, but that just lets you know the place is home to lots of Christians and enormous churches everywhere. I found the lack of diversity stifling after a decade or so, and I think that's not uncommon for those who have had exposure to other areas in the U.S, particularly NYC.

There's lots of good to Lex though, and I've never met a visitor who hasn't immediately commented on its beauty!

Email is my mefi screenname @ gmail.com if you need more info.
posted by superfem at 2:04 PM on May 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great info. They have made one short visit already, and will be going back in the near future to find housing for August.
posted by kimdog at 3:14 PM on May 19, 2006

I lived in Lexington for 9 years (4 at Transylvania University and 5 with my spouse, Slothrop). I hate to do it, but I'm going to have to support the common theme - Lexington is not now, nor ever has been, like NYC.

That being said - I thought I'd chime in with some of the plus sides - there are two very good clothing boutiques for women - locally owned but with amazing access to cool and funky gear - Bella Rose and Isle of You.

Also, the opera department at UK is run by former Metropolitan folk, so the graduate productions are pretty good. Transylvania University has a very good visiting speaker program, bringing in folks like Doris Kearns Goodwin and her ilk.

The art scene in Lex was pretty stale when Slothrop and I left in 2001, but our friends there have promised us that the situation has improved. . .We'll be in Morehead, so hopefully will have some hand in furthering the cause.

Also, Lexington is only an hour from Lousiville, which has Actor's Theatre. They have one of the best new play festivals in the Nation, plus consistently stellar seasons.

The coolest thing about Lexington is that lots of very weird people live there, and they tend to find each other through some strange gravitational vortex (probably bounded by New Circle Road). Good luck to your friends!
posted by dirtmonster at 3:45 PM on May 19, 2006

I moved from Cincinnati to NYC several yrs ago (now reside in SF, if it matters).

My number one suggestion would be to use this as an opportunity to commune w/ nature. There are lots of beautiful places to go hiking around there. Daniel Boone National Park (Forest?) is really beautiful, check out Red River Gorge.

Best of luck to them, I'm guessing this is going to be quite the adjustment
posted by lannanh at 3:53 PM on May 19, 2006

I lived in Lexington for 4 years (Chevy Chase area near the Henry Clay estate...very nice) a while back and now live in New York State. I've also lived in Indiana and Maryland.

You shouldn't expect Lexington to be anything at all like NYC. It's not. There's not a lot of cultural diversity and please don't expect anything like Zabars, great delis, great bagels and the like. You'll be disappointed.

And there's no reason your first job has to be your last job.

On the plus side, the weather is much better than in NY. Spring comes early and fall stays late. Spring is fabulous. Not much snow but January is usually a lot of sleet and ice.

I have to admit, though, that I was really really glad to leave KY and get back to the east coast. I will never leave the east coast again.

Good luck!
posted by bim at 5:47 PM on May 19, 2006

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