What makes a city?

Perhaps this is part 2 of my feelings on Seattle. Perhaps it isn't. It's a bit different in tone though, so I've kept in separate.

I've recently moved to Seattle. It's summer, and it's rather warm. Now and again if I didn't see the Space Needle and the Washington License plates, I'd think it was just another incarnation of San Diego.

Vancouver, on the other hand, seems drastically different. Why is this?

I'll probably delve deeper into the numbers in a subsequent post as I resume blogging, but initially I was sure it was just a function of density. Vancouver is nearly double the density. Yet much of what Vancouver is isn't explained solely by density. It's a different culture, a different country.

Nonetheless, Vancouver feels very lively, very happening. On a Sunday night there are still many people out and about in a way that Seattle doesn't quite have. It's a different type of person, granted, but if we distill people to people there are more. Downtown areas of Vancouver are very dense indeed. They feel lively, which then I associate with dense. In Seattle it's hard to say what the difference is. It's hard to quantify. But Vancouver has a very different vibe, even at a glance. It feels dense and lively and positive.

Tangentially, a lot of people raelly like living in 'dense' areas. San Francisco is the second densest american city, and on par with Vancouver. But it has a different feeling from NYC or Chicago. In Seattle most people have cars. It's pretty reasonable. In San Francisco, it's far more atypical. People like those options.

I suppose the intangible is the gulf between what is dense and what feels dense. True density is hard to acheive without the negatives of true density. But I do wonder whether we can get perceived density without true density.