Monday, November 24, 2008

Inspiration and Hope from the Nation's Capitol

Just got back from a whirlwind 36 hours in DC, and boy does St. Louis have a few things to learn...but so does DC

Y and I spent the weekend (or at least 30 hours) in DC this weekend, doing some undercover research versus St. Louis, venn diagram style. My initial, gut-reaction thoughts on the comparison between the two:

Transportation: Our gripes have been well documented here, but St. Louis doesn't stand a chance. For anyone wondering what a world-class transportation system does for a city, take a weekend riding the Metro in DC and you will find out. As a kid, I could't get over the cool machine that took your ticket, spit it back out and opened the space-age gates. Now? I can't get over a public transit system that goes wherever you want it to go, comes when you want it to come, and has stations that look so cool. Seriously, riding the Metro can be a night all its own, it's that good.

Options: This is another place where DC reigns above supreme. In St. Louis, you choose the kind of place you want to go, and then from there choose between the three places that fit that bill. In DC, choosing the kind of place leaves you with dozens of NEIGHBORHOODS to choose from, each which have multiple places you could go. And if you get tired of the 20 bars in the neighborhood you chose? Hop back on the Metro and you will be somewhere else in 10 minutes.

Cost: Same for transportation (possibly even a little cheaper in DC), DC drinks a little more, DC food a lot more, DC gas a lot more... No surprise here when I say St. Louis is a cheaper city

Convenience: Started drinking at 4pm, stopped drinking at 1am, never had to think about a driver or how I was going to get home. Enough said.

The Clientele: By this, I just mean the people in general that I interacted with throughout the weekend (strangers, not my friends) in the Philly airport and in DC. Maybe I have been in the Midwest too long, but I tried to help a man with his bag down from the overhead bin, and he glared at me like I was going to steal it and disappear, despite the fact we were crammed into an overcrowded airplane. I'm just trying to help dude. Guess I forgot we don't do that out East.

Cool Factor: This is the biggest gut reaction of all, but it's the feeling that, wherever you are, whenver you step outside you are in the middle of the action. I'm talking Sunday morning, walking down Mass Ave from Dupont to Gallery Place, more was going on around me than in the middle of the Loop on any given night. I will admit, this could just be a DC bias showing through, but there is just an energy surrounding everything you do and everywhere you go that St. Louis is sorely lacking. DC is the hot girl who knows how hot she is, while St. Louis is the mousy girl with glasses who is afraid to let her hair down because maybe someone will notice and talk to her.

Ultimately, that is what it comes down to... Yeah, you are going to pay a little more in DC and the people are going to be a little more abrasive. But you get all the perks that come along with big city life while being able to get anywhere you want with relative ease. Now if St. Louis could just get that transporation thing down, couple it with some more choice for entertainment and keep the low prices and Midwest charm, maybe we could get to work on that cool factor. Whaddya say?

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