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WislaHD

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The CBC article was silly clickbait. However, the underlying notion is an interesting one. Hamilton is not Brooklyn (anymore than Toronto is Manhattan), but it would be interesting to see Hamilton grow into a similar role (more so than it is today). Hamilton has a lot to offer: good urban bones, some good architecture, more character than a lot of the 905 sprawl, home to a good university and other amenities, etc. Young professionals, artists, etc. forced by high housing costs in Toronto to move to post-industrial Hamilton, but nonetheless having decent transit access (RER) to the big city -- I just think that's something that's beneficial to Hamilton, beneficial to Toronto, and makes the overall Golden Horseshoe region more interesting.
I agree with this sentiment. Expand GO-RER in Hamilton and fully build out the LRT network and things will get real interesting for that city quick. Unlike other municipalities in the region, Hamilton's street grid and build form are ideal for urban rejuvenation.

I don't know about the Brooklyn comparison, but I definitely think there is something to be said about having a competitive 'sister city' to compete with Toronto and keep us on our toes. This relationship is best played out in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Pauls) in Minnesota, where both cities actively try to out-compete each other, resulting in innovation and economic development of both.

We in Toronto should be encouraging Hamilton's (and K-W) initiatives to become more competitive. It will benefit our region and our city both economically and competitively in the long run. We already are seeing this first hand as Hamilton's bike share program is already far superior to Toronto's, and Toronto would do well to adopt Hamilton's bike sharing model.
 

the lemur

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Yeah, Port Credit (and especially south Oakville) if anything resemble more the wealthy railroad suburbs in Westchester, parts of New Jersey etc.

Using a NYC analogy, it's more akin to...Newark? New Haven?

But in some ways, Washington/Baltimore is the best comparison. Still very different cities with different identities, but certainly some "shared suburbs" (like Burlington is here). And about the same distance apart.

But obviously Hamilton's Chamber of Commerce isn't going to embrace the slogan of "Canada's Newark" or "Canada's Baltimore."

Oakville is a bit like one of the string of towns in Connecticut that people working in NYC commute from, like Greenwich or Stamford.

I don't think the Hamilton/Brooklyn comparison bears much scrutiny because people initially started moving to Brooklyn as a way to stay close to Manhattan without Manhattan rents, and then it came to be considered cool in its own right. People are moving to Hamilton because they've had enough of Toronto, for various reasons, although I guess some people still commute.

I didn't visit Hamilton (as opposed to passing through) until recently and I have to admit I had accepted all the stereotypes about it too easily until that point. I've been back and I am really taken with how nice it is - the whole environment (steelworks aside, although I can appreciate those in their own way) and the development of downtown.

Here's something to challenge those preconceptions: http://www.buzzfeed.com/katangus/wretched-armpit-of-despair
 

the lemur

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Another aspect, I think, is that Hamilton saw a fair number of people coming back to the city after living elsewhere, along with people drawn to it from Toronto for reasons of affordability. Brooklyn in the past 10-15 years has been more about outsiders making the leap who had previously not been willing to consider the place.
 

the lemur

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I agree with this sentiment. Expand GO-RER in Hamilton and fully build out the LRT network and things will get real interesting for that city quick. Unlike other municipalities in the region, Hamilton's street grid and build form are ideal for urban rejuvenation.

Maybe we'll start to see development (including transit) that brings Hamilton closer together with the K-W region ...
 

the lemur

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Yeah, Port Credit (and especially south Oakville) if anything resemble more the wealthy railroad suburbs in Westchester, parts of New Jersey etc.

Using a NYC analogy, it's more akin to...Newark? New Haven?

The Newark/Jersey City/Hoboken/etc. region is actually a pretty good comparison when you look at the industrial legacy and the fact that it's in some ways moving forward on transit in ways that the nearby big city isn't.

Farther afield, you could make comparisons to cities like Sheffield and Manchester, which lost a lot of population with the decline of manufacturing and then saw some degree of revitalization, the return of surface transit and a renewed appreciation of the surrounding natural environment. Maybe that's far-fetched.
 

Skeezix

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people initially started moving to Brooklyn as a way to stay close to Manhattan without Manhattan rents, and then it came to be considered cool in its own right. People are moving to Hamilton because they've had enough of Toronto, for various reasons, although I guess some people still commute.

I'm not sure one can generalize like that, although that may be true of some people. I'm about to go on an anecdotal tangent, so bear with me, but the friends I have who moved from Toronto to Hamilton did so because they could not afford their Hamilton house and neighbourhood if it had been in Toronto, they would have liked to have stayed in Toronto but felt Hamilton was close enough to stay in touch with friends, restaurants, events, etc. in TO, and as freelancers they both had the flexibility to telecommute while GOing into Toronto when necessary.

I didn't visit Hamilton (as opposed to passing through) until recently and I have to admit I had accepted all the stereotypes about it too easily until that point. I've been back and I am really taken with how nice it is - the whole environment (steelworks aside, although I can appreciate those in their own way) and the development of downtown.

Here's something to challenge those preconceptions: http://www.buzzfeed.com/katangus/wretched-armpit-of-despair

Me too.
 

the lemur

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I'm not sure one can generalize like that, although that may be true of some people. I'm about to go on an anecdotal tangent, so bear with me, but the friends I have who moved from Toronto to Hamilton did so because they could not afford their Hamilton house and neighbourhood if it had been in Toronto, they would have liked to have stayed in Toronto but felt Hamilton was close enough to stay in touch with friends, restaurants, events, etc. in TO, and as freelancers they both had the flexibility to telecommute while GOing into Toronto when necessary.

My take on it is totally anecdotal too; I think not being able to get on the Toronto property ladder is a big factor.
 

ehlow

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Hamilton is cool but Brooklyn is like, what a 5-10 minute subway across the river from Manhattan.

It's more accurate to say that something maybe like the east side of downtown (Leslieville, Distillery) or places like Queen West are the Brooklyn of Toronto. Or maybe even the Junction.
 

Long Island Mike

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Everyone:

Interesting article - this should be titled "Is Hamilton Toronto's Brooklyn?" to be more accurate...

KofK: Yes - Hamilton is to Toronto what Baltimore is to Washington, DC - I recall the description "Washington's Brooklyn" used to describe Baltimore in the past...
Both city pairs are virtually the same distance apart - 40 miles - and since the 1970s both suburban areas between both city pairs have grown enough as to overlap
and only county lines such as the Prince George's/Anne Arundel County boundary can discern where each begins or ends...

There is definitely a segment of population that lives in Hamilton or Baltimore respectively that has settled in each thanks to more reasonable real estate prices
and city living compared to living in a car dependent suburban area...

I note the comparisons between cities in the article and will add that Jerry Seinfeld is from Massapequa, Nassau County, Long Island - and that Peter Criss is more
better known as a member of KISS - and that Brooklyn does now have the Brooklyn Nets (NBA) and New York Islanders (NHL) playing at the Barclays Center...

The close-in northern New Jersey area also has grown thanks to people seeking again more reasonable real estate and rents - a good example is Hudson County which
has been described as NYC's "sixth Borough" at times (Jersey City, Hoboken, Union City area) over time...

Hamilton has its own identity and remembering how Toronto dominates the Golden Horseshoe it is good to see that Hamilton is getting recognition as a good place to
live in starting with its more reasonable cost of living for starters...

LI MIKE
 

Johnny Au

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Even East Rutherford, NJ was described as the "sixth borough" as for a long time, it hosted the Devils, the Nets, the Giants (NFL), and the Jets (NFL), as well as its proximity to New York city.
 

mjl08

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I have split my time as student and resident in both Toronto and Hamilton the last nine years, so I have a unique perspective on how Torontonians' views of Hamilton are changing, and some common misconceptions.

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that Hamilton’s cultural boom, in the context of the entire city, is relatively small. The cluster of “creative hubs,” centered around James Street North, and to a lesser extent Ottawa Street, are actually economic outliers in the wider city-region.

Secondly, the impact of the 1980s steel collapse and further deindustrialization in the last decade are all too apparent. You can hardly turn a corner in the lower city without running in to a payday loan store or temp recruitment agency. There are still large areas of Hamilton – Gibson, Lansdale, Crown Point, Stipley, and most of the Barton corridor from James Street North to Parkdale – that are case studies in urban blight and de-investment.

Thirdly, I believe that the portrayal of Hamilton’s cultural awakening as being one concocted by Toronto transplants is overstated. Torontonians have certainly played a role in the city’s cultural boom, but I consistently find myself bumping into born-and-bred Hamiltonians who run galleries and are movers and shakers in the Hamilton scene. Two communities that are often underrepresented in Hamilton’s cultural awakening include a) Residents who were raised in Hamilton, usually in middle or upper class pockets like Durand, Dundas or Ancaster, who attended school elsewhere and decided to come back home in their 20s and 30s, and b) Residents from smaller outlying communities in Southwestern Ontario, like Brant or Niagara, who are attracted to Hamilton’s "rebirth."
 
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mdrejhon

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Interesting article - this should be titled "Is Hamilton Toronto's Brooklyn?" to be more accurate...
Strong-willed Hamiltonians will say, we're nobody's Brooklyn and we're our own identity! However from a "gritty-elements-and-revitalizing-elements" perspective this would definitely be reasonably apt -- we're akin to the Baltimore-Washington pair, the Broolyn-NYC pair, and likewise, the Toronto-Hamilton pair. From that perspective. Yes!

I have split my time as student and resident in both Toronto and Hamilton the last nine years...
Good mini explanation! Quite spot on.

Here's something to challenge those preconceptions: http://www.buzzfeed.com/katangus/wretched-armpit-of-despair
This has been quickly my favourite rebuttal to those people derogatory of Hamilton.
 

King of Kensington

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Thirdly, I believe that the portrayal of Hamilton’s cultural awakening as being one concocted by Toronto transplants is overstated. Torontonians have certainly played a role in the city’s cultural boom, but I consistently find myself bumping into born-and-bred Hamiltonians who run galleries and are movers and shakers in the Hamilton scene. Two communities that are often underrepresented in Hamilton’s cultural awakening include a) Residents who were raised in Hamilton, usually in middle or upper class pockets like Durand, Dundas or Ancaster, who attended school elsewhere and decided to come back home in their 20s and 30s, and b) Residents from smaller outlying communities in Southwestern Ontario, like Brant or Niagara, who are attracted to Hamilton’s "rebirth."

A lot of this Toronto-driven "Hamilton cultural awakening" stuff strikes me as a kind of silly "more authentic than thou" contest among artists/hipsters, i.e. Toronto is a city of yuppies and bureaucrats, Hamilton is where the "real" creatives are.
 

Johnny Au

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Interestingly enough, Anchor Bar (yes, that famous "birthplace" of Buffalo-style chicken wings) has its second location in Hamilton, as it has a large hipster clientèle and is close to Buffalo (and Toronto).
 

mdrejhon

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Gibson, Lansdale, Crown Point, Stipley, and most of the Barton corridor from James Street North to Parkdale – that are case studies in urban blight and de-investment.
I'd like to add that I see signs of visible progress spreading out away from these hotspots now. As an early canary-in-the-coalmine indicator for someone paying more hawkish attention to blighted areas than the average outer or temporary resident...

In the little time I've been here, several different upgraded sitdown cafes has opened within walking distance. Vintage Roasters (Main St), 541 Cafe (Barton), to add to the Ottawa Street boom of cafes including Puravida, Cannon Coffee, and by some measures, even the new Tim Horton Museum (the only true sitdown timmy's with electric fireplace and loung-chairs) that opened earlier this year. Most of the above with 2014 or 2015 open-up dates.

Since the $1bn LRT got approved on the Main-King corridors, developers are starting to keep a watchful eye. The LRT corridor plan includes wider sidewalks and trees in sidewalk, so it's a much bigger revitalization initiative than either James St N and Ottawa St.

It will take a couple of decades (even James St N took that long) but where I currently live, I see fancy places opening between shuttered storefronts -- like The Kitchen Collective (a nice fancy shared kitchen that multiple businesses use, it also happens to be where the yummy local "Donut Monster" donuts are baked and supplied to several establishments). It was damn unfortunate when that out-of-control car crashed into the storefront of The Kitchen Collective, was worried the damage would have hurt their viability, but apparently not; it's all repaired and a beautiful storefront again! It's sometimes odd to see such a fancy Starbuckesque place mom-n-pop cafe right next door to a still-shuttered storefront, but the cafe was crowded during a weekend daytime, and they have more demand than expected that they're now considering opening late hours a day a week next summer. The owner of Vintage Roasters also own the whole building with the adjacent vacant storefronts so they look for good high-quality tenants.

Even newly-opened independent takeout places like Limin' Coconut (Main Street) really stands out as bright economic activity on a blighted block on Main St. The number of shuttered storefonts have noticeably gone down in the last 18 months alone so I see it as a canary-in-the-coalmine of improved economic activity. A few businesses still go out of business (e.g. Randy's Burgers, best burgers within walking distance but took 45 minutes to cook), the Meatballs place on Main that tried to open (but businessowner's spouse died and shut down before opening), but to make up for failings, two or three new establishments open up take over nearby, so there's now a net-increase in businesses in the blighted areas. One step back, two steps forward, and so on.

Ottawa Street seems to be on a dramatic continual upswing. There are now sections of the street I don't immediately recognize after 18 months -- and I live here.

It's going to be a long duke-out, a couple of decades, but Hamilton in 20 years will be a quite different place given the increased number of cylinders now firing on initiatives (major waterfront redevelopment, the now-approved $1bn LRT (office now staffing-up, project managers job openings now, EA amendments, and planned procurement/construction contract lock-in before 2018 elxn to prevent cancellation), multiple GO train construction sites, the escarpment gondola talk -- City of Hamilton is surveying population now on public-transit gondolas for the Transportation Master Plan), the city council approval to begin studying the first barriered bike access up the escarpment (more protected than the Cannon cycle track that just got built 2014), SoBi bikeshare popularity and 2016 expansion (more riders than expected & 60% more revenue than first projected). the new stadium is quite popular (on average) and a good-luck charm to TiCats winning many games; despite its negatives and earlier stadium-building drama.

Even the rare urban part of Mountain (Concession St) just got a fancy-sidewalks rebuild, despite dissapointment by many urbanites that bike lanes weren't integrated.

Long-time Hamiltonians have lots to be skeptical about (...the common "Old Boys Club" refrain...), but enough recent initiatives is succeeding that many have now taken attention, including developers interested in building in Hamilton. Over $1bn of developer starts have been occuring per year in the last few years, so development pace is obviously up and sustaining thus far.

Some of these items we won't see for several years, or decade or two.

Fallbacks and stepbacks are still happening (like Jay Keddy's death), as we can see via articles on the RaiseTheHammer website, but this is also good to press the city to do better for its residents.

For all the failings and failed initiatives in the past, enough stuff finally went ahead / succeeded to make a big difference around here and we hope this trend continues in a sustained way.
 
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