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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

Just visited Omaha; KC and Omaha are similar enough that I thought I’d compare them.

What I like about KC: 1) the most walkable areas are more walkable- even though there are a lot of stroads in Kansas City, there are a couple of exceptions to the dominance of high-speed, anti-pedestrian streets.  By contrast, almost every commercial street outside downtown (and many within downtown) in Omaha was pretty awful.

2) Generally more intown retail; I was surprised how few stores I felt like visiting, and in particular thought I would see more grocery stores.  KC is just a slightly bigger, more amenity-laden place.

What I like about Omaha: 1) Even though Jewish life is in the pretty suburban part of town, it is still in a somewhat transit-accessible part of town (unlike KC where Jews have moved to suburbs with 9-5 bus service).  There’s a kosher restaurant there, which is a nice touch (though not open for dinner).   The fact that the city has annexed more of its affluent suburbs is really a big deal, because municipal boundaries aren’t a barrier to transit.

2) generally felt safer, less ominous (since Omaha has less than half KC’s murder rate this is not surprising).  In any halfway urban part of KC you are always within a mile or so of rough areas.

3) Instinctively I like a city with civic spirit, as opposed to a city that is in a constant losing war with its suburbs.

Which city would I rather live in? Close call.  On balance I pick Omaha because of (1).  If I wasn’t Jewish (or was irreligious enough to drive or take a bus to shul)  I’d probably go the other way.

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