Do Cities Have Personalities?

Whilst strolling along the warm streets of Philadelphia with a dear friend last summer, a curious conversation developed. He mentioned that in his opinion, cities are more alike than different because they each have downtowns, trendy neighborhoods, grocery stores, and so on. While certainly a valid point, I couldn’t help but to humbly disagree.

Cities, to me, are like people; organic and distinct. Each one has its own unique vibration that affects its dwellers and visitors differently. Perhaps I am a complete travel romantic, but every time I explore a new city I feel a different vibe and perspective.

For example, the powerful city I currently call “home” – Washington, D.C. – is unlike any other I have experienced. Coming from Philadelphia suburbia, the District has been an invigorating breath of fresh air. It seems as though everyone is the city is an innovator, activist, entrepreneur, or artist, and it’s impossible not to be motivated by my impressive peers. I like to call D.C. the “suburban city,” in that it has both the perks of city living (public transportation and never-ending attractions) but also the luxury of green space. Washington D.C. is that friend who is forever humble and calm, while behind closed doors is a remarkable go-getter.

Moving across the globe for a bit, Cape Town is another city that is unmatched in my eyes. With a rich yet tumultuous history on its side, the city overflows with South African pride and passion. Faces of so many colors, and mouths of so many languages, mix to create a city that revels in its diversity. Along with the glamour of the beautiful city, there is also serious grit. Perhaps it was the unfortunate contrast between the sleek buildings of Cape Town’s downtown and the meager homes just on the outskirts; or maybe, the people’s awareness that there is room for growth in social issues. Whatever it was made Cape Town feel unapologetically candid.

Then, there is Auckland. The city, I’ve deemed, that must be one of the happiest places on earth. Not only does New Zealand’s largest metropolis look immaculate, but it also has the ability to make the grumpiest people optimistic. The people are smiling, sun seems to always be shining, and grass is so curiously green. The city brings out an altruistic nature — making you care about other people, the environment, the animals, and the quality of life. It inadvertently motivates its citizens to upkeep the city in the name of sustainability and contentment. In my opinion, Auckland really gives Disney World a run for its money in the happiness competition.

So to me, cities are just as varied as people and their attitudes. The world is a big place, but little did I know about the equally big personalities that exist within it until I started to explore. With that said… get out there, tell me what you feel when you visit a new city (@aysiawoods), and happy travels!

Image: Aysia Woods