Sunday, November 18, 2007

Suburbs Separated at Birth?

I live in Bethesda, Maryland a suburb immediately outside of Washington. My in-laws live in S. Pasadena, CA, a suburb immediately outside of LA. I was comparing rents and prices on a per square foot basis in both towns, and they seem remarkably similar. I will need to investigate this more carefully (making adjustments for housing quality etc.), but still...

Bethesda and Pasadena have a couple of things in common. They have always had town centers, and as such have long had a greater sense of identity than the typical cookie-cutter suburb. They have also seen their downtowns develop remarkably in recent years. In fact, Pasadena is one of the great urban renewal stories of the post-War era. Twenty-five years ago, the heart of downtown Pasadena, the corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, was a dump. It is now very beautiful, with nice retail and many interesting restaurants. Bethesda never got as down-in-the-mouth as Pasadena, but it was pretty dull when I first lived in the DC area immediately after college. Downtown Bethesda is now lively. Both downtowns have lots of street life. Both towns have nice residential districts with some distinguished houses architecturally (I particularly like the craftsmen bungalows in Pasadena).

They are also convenient to many employment centers within thriving metropolitan areas.


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