Metatalktail Hour: My Hometown March 18, 2017 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday Evening, MetaFilter! This week: What's the coolest unknown thing about your hometown (current or former!) that all visitors should see, or all residents should know?

This week's metatalktail topic comes from moonmilk, who is also curious about where you fantasize about moving to. Remember, they're conversation starters, not conversation limiters, so you can talk about any sociable/personal/sharing thing on your mind -- we're here to kibbitz! Except politics, the bouncers hate politics.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 4:37 PM (104 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Here, metafilter, I made you a creepy picture of fingerhands. Also, this week my blue FPPs finally passed my green questions, although hardly anybody looked at my FPP because I did a terrible job framing it and so I shame spiralled, but you should go look because a) it puts my blues in front of my greens and b) IT IS AWESOME, it's scientifically accurate lyrics about exoplanets set to Aladdin.

I am of course a big Peoria booster. My favorite thing about the city it's big enough to have cultural institutions but small enough that I'm 10 minutes from most of them. So I'm 10 minutes from the planetarium and Micro McGee and I went twice a week last year when he was in half-day preschool. I'm 8 minutes from a very legit zoo with good exhibits, and we go so often I can tell the rhinos apart. We're 5 minutes from an observatory with a nice big telescope that's open to the public every Saturday. The symphony only plays about 20 weekends a year instead of 52, but that's okay, it's pretty great to have a neighborhood planetarium we can go to twice a week!

The biggest thing visitors should know about is Wildlife Prairie Park (which sometimes is a state park but currently is not), which has a more-than-1,000-acre open pasture of native prairie plants with mixed herds of bison, elk, and deer. It also rehabs birds and predators, so it has enclosures for wolves, bear, cougar, and bobcats; also all Illinois snakes and amphibians; also insects, including butterflies; and most extant birds, including bald eagle and owl rehabs. Whenever European friends visit us I take them there and they're all, "OMG IT'S LIKE A MOVIE, I DIDN'T KNOW BISON WERE REAL!" Then I take them to a greasy spoon and they're just so happy, and then I feed them roadside sweet corn.

I'm also terrifically fond of Forest Park Nature Center, which is a park district city park, but encompasses a very unique biome. It's over 500 acres of prairie river bluff woodlands, a crucially important but these days very rare environment. Very good hiking and you almost always see turkeys.

(Also, pro-tip, if you become a member of the Peoria museum for $95/year for a family membership, you get free reciprocal admission to the Adler, Field, Peggy Notebaert, and Science and Industry. Because they're more than 90 miles away. Whereas if you join Adler (say), you still have to pay to go to the other three, because they're closer than 90 miles. It costs almost $80 to take a family of four to Science & Industry, so my membership pays for itself with one trip to Chicago and one discount on camp.)

Anyway if you come visit Peoria I will squire you around and use my member+ to get you into museums cheaper, it is a good weekend trip with kids.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2017 [9 favorites]

My hometown, Huntersville, NC, was the site of the (alleged) signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which if it happened at all, was the first declaration of independence from England in the 13 colonies. My junior high school was named for John McKnitt Alexander, at whose house the Meck Dec was (supposedly) signed. The house, with the lovely name of Alexandriana, burned down with the only (supposed) copy inside. My junior high and high school were located on what had been the Alexander plantation.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:37 PM on March 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Whoo, thanks for using my suggestion!

I grew up in San Mateo, CA, where the hills behind the recreation center were covered with rosemary bushes, making them especially pleasant to climb; and in Burlingame, home of the Pez Museum.

Now I've lived in Brooklyn for almost 20 years, and I will probably never move, but I love reading every single ask.metafilter question about "where should I move" and daydreaming about all those other places. And I always play this song in my head while I read them.
posted by moonmilk at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown of Weatherford, Texas is one of the few places around that still has a combination furniture store/funeral home, something I am told was more common long ago when you naturally went to the local furniture maker to construct coffins as they were needed.

When my grandfather's funeral was held there in 1988, one of the elderly ladies in attendance became overwhelmed with emotion, collapsed, and died on the scene. Her funeral was held a few days later in the same chapel where she died.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has many museums, but none was better than the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. When it closed the collection went to the Science Museum of Minnesota where a sadly limited amount is on display.

For fans of irony, SMM built a new facility a few years ago, and the old science museum building is now owned by the Church of Scientology.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:31 PM on March 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

As maddening as it is to drive in my adopted hometown of Los Angeles, one of my favorite things to do is drive around it, and take visitors for drives, at off hours. If you aren't from here, and even maybe if you are, you tend to have a very distinct mental image - mental collage, even - of what you think LA is. And it IS that, whatever it is, but it is also the opposite of that.

Like, whatever you think Sunset Blvd is, drive it all the way across the city and see what happens. Attempt to do the same on Sepulveda. Every time Waze shortcuts me around traffic by taking me on Mulholland Drive, I don't even know what I thought that was before, but my mind still gets a little blown. Drive around the Hollywood Hills and boggle at millions of dollars of house on a third of an acre lot, with driveways so short you can't fit an entire car in them.

Crawl up the 101 to Calabasas (keep a sharp eye out for Kardashians, or Justin Bieber!), turn left at the Las Virgenes exit and drive through Malibu Canyon, pop out in Malibu right around the Pepperdine campus (if it's the right time of day, jawdrop at 50+ deer grazing on the lawn) and go back south on the Pacific Coast Highway (where your favorite actor/rockstar/model's Malibu getaway's driveway is the highway shoulder, it ain't fancy on the outside/backside, you can see their garbage cans). Stop at Malibu Seafood, which is a fish market that'll cook it for you as long as you want it boiled, steamed, or fried, and look at the ocean across the street while you eat at outside picnic tables, because there's nooooothing along the PCH until you get pretty much back to Santa Monica.

If you come to LA and your stay includes a Sunday morning, my advice is to curtail your Saturday night partying so you can get up early and go drive for a few hours. We have all the problems of a county of 10 million people, but the land itself (and the weather, most of the year) fights extremely hard to be beautiful and/or amazing at you everywhere you go.

If I had to leave and had my pick of where to go, I'd go back to Gothenburg, Sweden. I lived in the suburbs for a year as an exchange student, and I have a fondness for that coast in general but spent every second I could in the city.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:32 PM on March 18, 2017 [10 favorites]

My home town, Natick MA, is the town I currently live in. I didn't stay to, like, work at the plant or anything, it was just the right combination of affordable (at the time), convenient, and livable back when we were looking for a house so I ended up moving back. I like my little suburban town.

Natick's most famous former resident is probably football guy Doug Flutie. He played football at Natick High School before going on to Boston college and throwing a Hail Mary pass. He went on to the NFL and the CFL. He still hosts an annual 5K in town for autism research (at least one of his kids has autism) and there's a mall connector road in town that they named Flutie Pass.

Musician Jonathon Richman of the Modern Lovers grew up in Natick and graduated from Natick High School. I've been shopping at THE Stop and Shop for most of my life, though I admit I'd never even heard of him until I was probably in my 30s.

Natick is also home to the US Army Soldier Systems Center, an R&D lab where they invent things like kevlar helmets, uniforms, and MREs. They once accidentally infested part of the town with Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Good times.

Vice President Henry Wilson, running mate for Ulysses S. Grant's second term, lived in Natick and ran a shoe shop. He used the nickname The Natick Cobbler on the campaign posters. His little shoe shop has been preserved and you can still go see it today. The town is way too proud of him. I went to Henry Wilson Jr. High School.

The Boston Marathon runs through Natick. It's one of my favorite days of the year and a major event in town. Residents line the streets and cheer on the runners. It's like a 26 mile long party and I watch it across from a restaurant that sets up a DJ and a bunch of mini trampolines for the kids. The DJ will play the song YMCA several times throughout the day and all the runners will do the silly YMCA thing with their arms. The race the year after the bombing was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed.

Most people around here know Natick as the place where The Mall is. But the malls are all crammed into one corner of the town and the rest of the town is kind of nice. I can go see llamas and alpacas five minutes from my house. The mall sucks, anyway.

We have a diner, Casey's Diner, that is in the National Register of Historic Places. It's one of the last of its kind of Worcester Dining Cars. They still use the same pot and bun steamer to cook the hot dogs that they used back when it was pulled by horses. They're the best hot dogs in the universe.

The Charles River, which is the main river that runs through Boston, goes through Natick. In the summer I'll often take my kayak out on it. Five minutes after putting it in the water I'll feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere. I'll watch for herons, hawks, deer, and carp in the water. It's one of my favorite places. One time I picked up a hitchhiker.
posted by bondcliff at 7:05 PM on March 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

Coolest thing about my former hometown (Irving, TX) is that my dad had a dry-cleaners right next to the barber shop that cut most of the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys during their '92, '92, & '95 years. I have a t-shirt that is signed by the entire offensive line as well as few other drop-ins, Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, Michael Irvin, Nate Newton, being some of the more well known stars of that era of Dallas Cowboys fame. Alvin Harper, had a really cool convertible with the license plate 'Hop'. He was very good at high jump during high school and university I believe.

And now I'm thinking of some other cool people we managed to meet because of my father's dry-cleaning business. Cecil Fielder, who played on the Detroit Tigers was also a customer. He once dropped off a sport coat with $1700 in his pocket. My dad being the honest person he was, returned it. Cecil was rolling large during those days and didn't even know he was missing that much money. I wish I had that kind of a problem. Cecil Fielder's wife invited our family to a Mrs. America pageant, which is a thing I didn't know exist, so there's some more random knowledge.

I mean that's not really a specific city thing, it's more personal but it's related to my hometown, so I think for the purposes of this discussion, it felt share-worthy. :)

I currently live in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. The coolest thing about this town is not the actual falls (which I admit is almost always impressive, no matter how many times I see it), but there's a Fragrance Garden for the visually impaired near by and I love that such a thing exists. I only learned about it two years ago and I've been living in this region for the last 18. It was planted in 1985 and is very accessible with braille plaques by each plant.
posted by Fizz at 7:10 PM on March 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

My hometown is Springfield, Virginia and it is garbage. You should not go there except to eat dinner with my parents, who are great, and maybe take a nice walk around Lake Accotink or go to my mom's Zumba class which is seriously amazing and will spoil you for all others.

My adopted hometown is Minneapolis and a lot of the great things about it are known because we can't stop yelling about them. My particular neighborhood has a diner that's been there since the 20s and is perfect in every way except it is so tiny they don't have a freezer, so no pies or shakes.
posted by clavicle at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Well, my original hometown was Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, of which I remember almost nothing because my family moved to Los Angeles when I was 5 years old. While visiting my grandmother who'd stayed in Cleveland while I was in my teens, I took a solo trip on the Cleveland Rapid Transit (Subway) to Downtown; the trip was memorable if the city wasn't. But it was 20+ years until I could re-create the Subway ride in L.A.

Most of my childhood was spent in the suburb of Encino, a postal address with a split personality. South of Ventura Blvd. it climbed into the Hollywood Hills with some of the priciest estates in L.A.,and where the Jackson 5 family moved when they first hit it big. North of Ventura (where I lived) was very middle-class. The only celebrity nearby was comedian Tim Conway who got a home on a long lot with a long driveway 3 blocks from me when he got his first TV gig (McHale's Navy) and has never moved since. His long driveway was good for bicycle drag racing and he never came out to complain so none of us kids actually saw him. A lily-white neighborhood until the year I went off to college, when moving half-a-block from me were the ex-wife of Barry White and her two kids. Between the two Encinos, Ventura Blvd. was a string of auto sales lots, the biggest of whom belonged to Ralph Williams Ford, the car dealer/tv commercial standby who was the brunt of Johnny Carson's used car jokes before Cal Worthington came along and upstaged everybody. But when I went to college, the value of the land led to all the car lots becoming semi-high-rise office buildings... except for one which became the Galleria Mall of "Valley Girl" fame.

As for college, I made the terrible mistake of accepting a scholarship to Pepperdine U., so I knew Lyn Never's "101 to Malibu Canyon to PCH" route well, and enjoyed the ride long after I transferred out and tried to forget my two years at Ol' P.U.

I have a lot of "neighborhood stories" from different parts of L.A. in my 45 years living and working in several parts of the metro area (Encino to West L.A. to Torrance to Long Beach to Pasadena to North Hollywood), but on weekends, I fell in love with San Luis Obispo, 180 miles up the coast. So when I was declared Disabled, I decided if I'm not going to be doing anything, that was the best place to do it.

Basically known as "midway between L.A. and S.F.", with a hundred motels for the people driving up the Coast Highway who didn't want to do it in one day, including the Madonna Inn, one of the first "novelty hotels" with each room decorated differently and extremely and as "you're almost to Hearst Castle". It led the way toward making S.L.O. a happily quirky place, regularly ranking high on 'good places to live' lists and proudly adopting the nickname of "SLOtown". Home of one of Junipero Serra's missions, a "Bubblegum Alley" older and longer than Seattle's, the California Polytechnic U. campus (alma mater of John Madden and Weird Al Yankovic), many vineyards and wine tasting places, and Pismo Beach, that place Bugs Bunny was always trying to burrow to.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:22 PM on March 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Eponym of that most important rule of crosswords, the Natick Principle

I didn't think anyone knew about that but me, but I guess crossword fans know a whole lot of stuff.

Oh! Also Natick was featured in the Y2K episode of Family Guy! They were searching for the Twinkie factory in Natick, which actually used to exist. It was a Wonder Bread / Hostess bakery. We got a tour of it when I was in 4th grade and we got to a) eat a slice of Wonder Bread right out of the slicer, which it was still warm, and b) see how they get the cream into the Twinkies.

We used to go to the thrift shop and buy Hostess Pies for ten cents.

It closed down a few years ago and it's now part of the mall, of course. That fucking mall, man.
posted by bondcliff at 7:28 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm currently living in St. Paul, MN and while not really unknown, there are trails all over the sides of the Mississippi River that are wonderful for a quick nature fix and some quiet time in the cities. I rarely run into anyone down there.

In my hometown of Omaha, NE, Hummel Park and the hills just north of North Omaha and Florence are gorgeous and don't seem to get the recognition they deserve.
posted by holmesian at 7:29 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

two cool things about battle creek, mi

del shannon and junior walker
posted by pyramid termite at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

two cool things about battle creek, mi

Um... Kelloggs? We all read cereal boxes while eating breakfast growing up. Battle Creek, MI was the stuff of legends.
posted by bondcliff at 7:37 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sojourner Truth settled there.

The Valley Relics Museum has Nudie's car, among other things.
posted by brujita at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2017

"We all read cereal boxes while eating breakfast growing up. Battle Creek, MI was the stuff of legends."

When I was very little -- I must have been 4 or 5, because my grandmother was still alive -- I went on the Kellogg factory tour in Battle Creek. I remember at the end of it we all got free boxes of Corn Flakes and then we had to eat Corn Flakes for months, which was not okay as we were a Rice Krispies family.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

My home town (Kamloops, BC) is really only interesting for things you can do within an hour or so outside of town. It has world class fly fishing all over the place and there is (so I've been told) the second best hang gliding in the world. Guys have launched from Savona and glided hundreds of kilometres away.


I'm ashamed to say I was once involved in convincing a college freshwoman (this was pre-WEB) that kangaroos were imaginary just like unicorns, dragons and Sasquatch. We passed it off as a massive prank by Aussies aided and abetted by the only Aussie in our social circle. I sometimes wonder whether deep down she still doubts their existence.
posted by Mitheral at 8:07 PM on March 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't really have a 'hometown' because we moved a lot for my father's job. So, Sac City IA is not my hometown, but it's where my mother grew up & returned to in my parents' retirement, so we have spent a lot of time there. Sac City IA is the Popcorn Capital of the World & home of the world's largest popcorn ball. (Noble Popcorn is in town & Jolly Time was one town over before it moved.) The popcorn ball has its own little barn-like structure that is front & center of a re-created historic village at the volunteer-run the Sac County Historical Society. My uncle left money in his will to add the church. There are more than 150 barn quilts throughout the county. The park has a Chautauqua building with events at July 4 & other times of year.

Sac City, like a lot of small Midwestern towns, is the opposite of diverse, but there are a lot of good things about Sac City--nice public library, good schools, great medical care, several volunteer-run art events, lots of nice houses, caring people, & more. Generally positive small-town Iowa life. Unfortunately, it is in Rep Steve King's district. I don't know anyone who actually voted for him, but clearly people do. When I talked to my mother this week--she is 91 & lives in the nursing home & reads every word in her daily paper & watches CNN, PBS, & more--she volunteered that King is indeed a racist jacka$$ or worse.

If you are ever on old Hwy 20 (new 20 bypasses all the little towns) between Fort Dodge & Sioux City, be sure to stop! If you like steak, eat at the Sac County Cattle Company.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

My city (Hamilton, Ontario) has lots of great things (a great art gallery, beautiful outdoor space) but my favourite are the hidden, secret or unexpected things. A few blocks from my apartment there is a newish medical arts/med school campus extension, and someone is building a massive miniature train set right inside the front doors, complete with a cityscape and fake grass hills. I have no idea why, or what it has to do with medicine or the university. I pass it every week on my way to yoga, and it cheers me up every time.

I thought I had a photo but I can't find it, you will just have to trust me. Secret trains!
posted by janepanic at 8:29 PM on March 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Durham has a low bridge with a web cam.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:11 PM on March 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Wikipedia list of people who died in my hometown is mostly composed of people who died in the psychiatric hospital there. Although the list doesn't mention that.
posted by bleep at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

While it's not my hometown, I lived on Kauai for some time and everybody knows CPR. The currents are harsh there and often misjudged by tourists. Kids in school learn CPR every year and locals are ready to go in to action when necessary. Otherwise, it's very chill.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:09 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am working overtime this weekend to finish an index of a WWII book and thus have a head full of facts about navy ships and whatnot instead of interesting hometown facts, but this very day, Eyebrows, we got an Indiana State Museum membership so we can take advantage of that sweet reciprocal admission benefit on an upcoming Chicago trip. One trip to the Museum of Science and Industry and our membership here has paid for itself. Also here there is a natural disaster exhibit right now that my kid has proclaimed his favorite thing, and at least if I have to see it a dozen times, the next eleven will be free. Yay, museums!
posted by percolatrix at 10:13 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown, Rhinelander, WI, is the home of the Hodag. What's a Hodag? I'm glad you asked! This is the Hodag!

Back in the 1890's, a guy named Gene Shepard claimed that he found this beast in the woods (in a cave in the woods?). He said he chloroformed it and trapped it and then he ran a sideshow, showing it off to people. In reality, he had constructed some insane taxidermy thing that he moved with wires in a dimly lit tent, but people bought it. Later, he was revealed as a hoax, but people loved the Hodag and we made it our mascot.

The Hodag has been on an episode of Scooby Doo and was recently in the "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Harry Potter book. And as a high school mascot, he can kick all the other mascot's asses.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:13 PM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Pittsburgh has an underground Hungarian restaurant run out of an old professor’s home.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:26 PM on March 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh, also perhaps the most caloriffic chocolate chip cookies and the finest seitan wings in the country.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:27 PM on March 18, 2017

"Durham has a low bridge with a web cam."

My children have forced me to watch this for HOURS ON END. I mean it's good entertainment but maybe not four hours of good entertainment.

"but this very day, Eyebrows, we got an Indiana State Museum membership so we can take advantage of that sweet reciprocal admission benefit on an upcoming Chicago trip"


posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:33 PM on March 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

My hometown is a tourist town on the central coast of California, and I'll be motherfucken god damned if I'm going to tel the internet about the coolest places and things there because the main reason they're cool is that tourists are never there.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:19 PM on March 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

My hometown was a weird amalgamation of Revolutionary War-era historical relics and your standard cancerous suburb, being the location of things like George Washington's temporary headquarters, an early 18th century church, the house where General André was held before he was hanged, and, still today, the tree that he was hanged from. If you go one town over you can go to the house where Edward Hopper was born and draw naked people there, something my high school art teacher encouraged us all to do. As a teenager, the idea had a certain torrid aura to it that dissipated basically immediately after I walked into my first session there, which in retrospect was probably a pretty healthy thing for me to experience at that age.

St. Louis was my adopted hometown for a long while, and it is full of secrets, but my favorite unknown thing about it is that there's a pretty tall building around Grand Center that has an external staircase that goes straight up to a ladder that goes to the roof, with absolutely no obstructions of any kind. Once you're up there you can see all the way to Clayton on the one side and the Mississippi on the other, and it was a great place to cool down for a while with friends after going to the symphony while super high to see whatever dissonant, mind-bending contemporary pieces David Robertson had selected for the first half of the concert and then skipping out on the Ninth in the second half, because sometimes you just don't need to hear it again. Not the Mahler or the Brahms, though: some things never get old. A friend of mine was part of the vocal ensemble for a Meredith Monk piece that was debuted there, and he told me that she was a delightful presence.

St. Louis is also the location of my Canonical Karaoke Bar, Talayna's. I will judge every other karaoke bar I go to against the bar that it set, no pun intended, and if my intervening experience has been any indication, I doubt I'll find a place that exceeds it. Talayna's, which you'll hear wrongly pronounced as Talayña's as often as not, usually by transplants, for reasons that I don't really understand, always reminded me of SimCity. You know how in SimCity (any version, but I always think of SimCity 2000 in my head) you could just build fire stations in row upon row, in perpetuity, until your money ran out? And it was stupid, but it was a thing you could do, and kind of amusing for being allowed but utterly nonsensical? Talayna's was like that, but with disco balls, and mirrors, and red and blue lights. There were hundreds (seriously, hundreds) of disco balls on the ceiling, which was mirrored, as were the walls. And the bartenders were wonderful and the Long Island Iced Teas were all booze and the karaoke regulars were so into it that they even had outfits that they wore special and no one resented the fact that we were a bunch of music students who had a little bit more vocal training than average because everyone was just there to be a star for a little while as best they knew how in front of a supportive audience. I miss that place.

I fantasize about moving to LA. I was sure that I would hate it for most of my life, and then I went there and completely changed my mind. I want to just be there and breathe it in, the way that one does with a beautiful mountain range or tranquil forest, though likely with significantly more damage to the lungs. I love Oakland, but basically all of the things that seem like affinities between NorCal and the PNW are the things that I don't like about the Bay Area at all. Plus, lol, it'd be nice to live someplace a little cheaper.
posted by invitapriore at 11:31 PM on March 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

My home town is Arundel, on the south coast of England. Growing up it felt like the most boring town in the world that I couldn't wait to escape, as an adult it's so pretty to visit! I haven't lived there for nearly 2 decades so am not up to date on anything unknown, but it has a great selection of very British pubs which is something I miss in Paris, my current home.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:05 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

idk if anyone here has ever heard of nyc but we have p good pizza
posted by poffin boffin at 12:11 AM on March 19, 2017 [10 favorites]

nobody has ever heard of chicago either but your favorite pizza sucks
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:21 AM on March 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

The area where I grew up is mainly notable for a) being basically your last stop before Algonquin Park and b) having a whole lot of rare radioactive minerals, including a couple only found in 1-2 other places in the world. It was a long while before I noticed that quartz in other places is not on a spectrum from grey to black, but rather doesn't have exposure to radiation at all.
posted by frimble (staff) at 12:26 AM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Now I live in Vienna. AFAIK, the only interesting thing that happened here was that it was where King Richard was captured and held for ransom on his return from the Crusades, leading to that whole Prince John/Robin Hood thing.
posted by frimble (staff) at 12:38 AM on March 19, 2017

I fantasize about moving to London, but not current stupidly rich, stupidly expensive London. More a mish-mash of the many literary Londons in my mind, combined with my study abroad there in the late 90s.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:01 AM on March 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

The name of the town where I grew up is best known, where it’s known at all, by being in the title of a song, originally by Pete Seeger, but based on some verses by the coalminer-poet Idris Davies, which was also later performed by Judy Collins, John Denver, Cher, and The Byrds, among others. However, as the wikipedia article about the song explains: ‘although The Byrds were anxious to correctly pronounce the Welsh place-names in the song’s lyrics on their recording, they, like Seeger, actually mispronounced the name Rhymney as “Rimney” (it should be pronounced as “Rumney”)’. To be fair, being mispronounced is the least of the place’s problems…

Caldicot, the town where I now live, was apparently once home to Henry Jones, the inventor of self-raising flour.
posted by misteraitch at 1:23 AM on March 19, 2017

No one's stepped up for Orange, CT yet, so I'll go ahead and do that -- moonmilk mentioned upthread that Burlingame is home to the Pez Museum, but Orange is home to the Pez factory.

We are run by a Board of Selectmen chaired by a First Selectmen; the main governing issue of the 2000s was whether to allow Stew Leonard's to build a location off Exit 41 of I-95, Marsh Hill Rd (concerns: traffic, wetlands).

In the 2000s, Orange had three elementary schools that fed into one Junior High (grades 7-9) that was in the middle of transforming into a Middle School (7-8). This and the Bethany Junior High / Middle School fed into Amity Regional Senior High School (which had changed from 10-12 to 9-12).

Among the three towns that made up Regional District #5, Orange was the most commercially developed, having a Costco and at one point, a shitton of furniture stores. Bethany was known for horses and a rural feel, i.e. they were responsible for many of our snow delays; Woodbridge was where Yale employees lived, where many kids went to the nearby day school (Hopkins, est. before most US cities...).

Orange, as I remember it, was mostly Irish / Italian, and mostly retirees / young families, but our Winter Concerts at the Peck Place School under Mrs. June Hale were astoundingly diverse, e.g. non-religious like Peace be with you and Holiday Lights, but also O Day of Peace. Mrs. Hale also called in her opera friends so we could do Va Pensiero from Nabucco, as well as a choral arrangement of Hashivenu, which I thought rounded out a great year of learning songs phonetically. This was on top of an annual play-musical for each of grades 4-6.

tl;dr: Pez factory, great music education at at least one of the three elementary schools.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:55 AM on March 19, 2017

I live in a town of seven hills and seven rivers, although if you try and count them it's more like three rivers and a couple of streams and that makes seven, but there are a LOT of hills.

We have the highest proportion of green space in the town of anywhere in Europe (apparently, maybe).

We have unusual Christmas singing traditions

During the first world war one of the most well known local workers was an elephant.

I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
posted by emilyw at 4:06 AM on March 19, 2017

The Beatles visited my hometown in 1967 and now for some unknown reason we have commemorative butt prints to mark where they sat on the seafront.

We also have a giant prawn statue.
posted by terretu at 4:15 AM on March 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh, also perhaps the most caloriffic chocolate chip cookies and the finest seitan wings in the country.

Okay, hold up - I know the Hungarian restaurant (though I haven't yet been), and I'm guessing the seitan wings are from Spak Bros - though please correct me if I'm missing something - but what Pittsburgh cookies are you talking about? How have I lived here five years now and missed out on this one??

Adding to the Pittsburgh love, though neither of them are exactly unknown two of my favorite features of the town are Kennywood, an amusement park that's been here since 1899 and has some seriously old wonderful rides still in operation (my favorite roller coaster is almost 100 years old!), and the Cathedral of Learning, the "tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere." There's a nesting pair of peregrines up there, and watching them fly is amazing.

Oh yeah, also Randyland. I only met him once, but Randy strikes me as very good people.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:29 AM on March 19, 2017

I Come from Nowhere, Frank Zappa

I grew up in Surrey, B.C. The neighborhood I spent my childhood has undergone a massive demographic shift. When I was there it was white middle class, and there were one or two Sikh kids in our class. Now the strip mall I used to walk through is all Punjabi shops. I've heard Surrey is the largest Sikh community ouside the Punjab, not sure it's true but must be close. The farmland we were on the edge of is now 40 year old condos, and the swamp where I caught tadpoles is a McDonalds parking lot. Clifford Robert Olsen lived a couple blocks away, but his hijinks were a few years after my family broke up and moved away.

Some day I would love to visit Northwest India. I guess as a second choice, if Canada ever gets it together with Minimum Income, I could go retire back there. I think that getting exposed to other very different people at an early age, but also when I was old enough to distinctly notice and find it remarkable, is what set me up for this nomadic life.

Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

I've been away from Vancouver for more than 20 years now, it's interesting to visit but sure doesn't feel like I am from there anymore. Canadians are as foreign to me as any other group of people, and that's OK, I'm from the world.

Big Time, Peter Gabriel

My Little Town, Simon and Garfunkel

These two songs are about people growing up and escaping small towns. Not really personally relevant, but they're good tunes.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:55 AM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

The town I grew up in claims to have actually invented the steamboat.

Where I live now there are no trash trucks. There are these machines that you put trash bags into and then the bags go underground where there is a series of tunnels or pipes or something that move the trash to a centralized location and I'm not sure what happens then. When I am feeling mischievous I like to imagine that the town was built over a giant cave and that they are just dumping the trash in there and pretending like it will never fill up. Aside from the trash thing, not much interesting here. It is a boring place, really. Oh, the second tallest building in Korea is about two blocks from my apartment, but that's kind of dumb.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:59 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh the best part about the steamboat claim is that there is like literally no water in my hometown. No big lakes, rivers, nothing.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:00 AM on March 19, 2017

To go with Meatbomb's links, here's a poem about coming from somewhere: I Remember, I Remember.
posted by paduasoy at 6:06 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Because of work, I'm living right now in a place that, while not terrible, just isn't really where I want to stay long term. So I spend probably too much time idly fantasizing about other places, the more impractical the better.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:24 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown has a very nice rock garden which people don't seem to know about. It is tiny but very nice. They seem to be neglecting all the other outside garden features so if you're there and you like gardens, go visit it before they manage to screw up the oldest rock garden in the US. It is especially nice in the mid to late springtime.

Also, and probably pretty well known by most people who've lived there or visited: Herrell's Ice Cream makes pretty awesome ice cream.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:27 AM on March 19, 2017

Both where I live now and where I'm from claim they have the largest urban park in Europe.

They are both very beautiful parks, though Arthur's Seat is more impressive than the Wellington memorial.
posted by hfnuala at 6:28 AM on March 19, 2017

My childhood town is mentioned in the title of a fondly remembered 4th wave Ska band and my high school theatre teacher plays the trombone on it.
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My adopted hometown of 30+ years is Lexington, MA, the sixth-wealthiest small city in the US. We have a population of over 32,000, 9 Nobel Prize winners and at least 2 MacArthur Genius recipients. Some of our more notable current and former residents:
Jon Kabat Zinn
Carlton Fisk
Eugene Mirman (spoke at one of my kids' high school graduation and said, "The Lexington Public Schools are so good that once when I got a C, they put me in special ed.")
Howard Zinn
Noam Chomsky
Tim Berners-Lee
Tama Janowitz
Amanda Palmer
Rachel Dratch (spoke at another one of my kids' high school graduation)
Henry Lewis Gates, Jr.
Bill Lichtenstein
Charles Ponzi
Scott McCloud
Jill Stein

We don't care what any stupid history books say, the REAL first battle of the American Revolution was the Battle of Lexington (and in Concord in much smaller letters).

It is obligatory for every Lexington resident to get up at 3:00 am on Patriot's Day at least once in their lives, walk to the Battle Green for the re-enactment, go to the Greek Orthodox Church for all-you-can-eat-pancakes, then take the T from Alewife and watch the Boston Marathon.

However, Lexingtonians also know that the re-enactment is practiced in its full glory the weekend BEFORE Patriots' Day and happens at a far more reasonable lunchtime hour, so we always go to that.

Pretty much all kids in the town play either fife or drum and at one time in their lives participated against their will in the William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps, wearing historically authentic and unbelievably hot and itchy reenactment clothing and practically fainting during musters.

Lexington is home to MIT's Lincoln Lab and Hanscom Air Force Base. Every now and again we see some really weird-looking planes overhead.

Most fun fact about Lexington: the Parks and Rec rivalry between snot-nosed Eagleton and plucky Pawnee is actually based on a very real rivalry between snot-nosed Lexington (Rachel Dratch's home) and plucky Burlington (home of Amy Poehler). The annual Thanksgiving football always involves fist-fighting.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:37 AM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Peter Fox sings (in German, sorry) about how comforting it is to live all your life around a big family in your home town, where you know "every pigeon's name".... as well as how stifling it is, and the feeling of freedom in leaving and looking for some "unbekannten Strassen", and then of coming home again.

and if you watch the video you realise the singer's lake house in the moonlight with the orange-tree leaves littering the ground is not exactly as he describes, and even in the place where he was born "hier bin ich geboren, und hier werd ich begraben" - he is lonely and does not have a hundred grandchildren playing cricket on his lawn at all.
posted by emilyw at 6:39 AM on March 19, 2017

The town of my birth is an acknowledged shithole, most well known in the modern era for a Rugby League team and as the site of the most famous gig of the 1990s. Interestingly from the site of that gig you can look across the Mersey and see the place where a mustard gas factory used to stand.

I know live in Falmouth, Cornwall. Today it was voted the best place to live in the UK by readers of the Sunday Times because its lovely here. Here are three tied together Falmouth facts relating to sea based arrivals at Falmouth, mostly tied to it being the southern UK port which sticks out into the Atlantic the most.

1: Falmouth was the first place in the mainland UK to receive the news of victory at Trefalgar, Captain Lapontiere of HMS Pickle came ashore here in 1805 with dispatches for the Admiralty, which he reached in record time. The message was also taken by the sea route and the two messengers are said to have arrived at their destination in London at the same time. (The different approaches were taken in case the seagoing option up the channel to a port closet to London was slow.) Tourists can now follow in the hoofsteps of Lapontiere's journey on the Trafalgar Way.

2: Charles Darwin came ashore here from the Beagle when it returned from its round the world voyage in 1836, an event commemorated with a small plaque on the side of the local HSBC bank.

3: Ellen Macarthur came ashore here after competing the then fastest solo circumnavigation of the world in 2005. Shortly thereafter she was named Dame Ellen Macarthur and later also became a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.
posted by biffa at 6:57 AM on March 19, 2017

My hometown has always been a weird mixture of a college town, a bedroom community, and just a little remnant of the Italian immigrants who ran the high-end agriculture that gave it the nickname "The Rose City". From the late 19th century well into the 20th century its position on a direct train line to NYC meant that it featured the summer estates of several prominent New York families. Half of the civic buildings were named after a deceased relative of the family that gave the money to build them, so they all had names like Dodge, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

The church I attended also bore the marks of that wealth, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass window dedicated to a Vanderbilt, but my favorite bit is invisible unless you go down into the utility space directly beneath the chapel. There you'll find the heating system, complete with superfluous ducting directly beneath the front right pews, not coincidentally the exact spot where Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge always sat.

The house that I grew up in was built by William Stoddard for his daughter and son-in-law, and he came to live in the house in his declining years. Stoddard's main claim to fame is that he was one of Lincoln's personal secretaries, and prepared the first full draft of the Emancipation Proclamation from Lincoln's notes, but in his latter years he was quite the author, writing over 100 books, including an eclectic mix of memoir, history, poetry, adventure novels, and what would now be called YA fiction designed to instill good Christian virtue in young boys.
posted by firechicago at 7:03 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I grew up a military brat, so I guess my hometown is where I live now, as we've been here 15 years. Fredericksburg VA was the frontline of the US Civil War, with 4 major battles fought here. All 4 battlefields are National Parks, and tourism here revolves around history. Downtown Fredericksburg, an 12-14 block area, has buildings dating back to the 1700s, and a real nice collection of locally owned shops, restaurants, and bars.

Now that we are empty-nesters we've talking about moving into a larger city to experience a more urban lifestyle. We also watch way too much Beachfront Bargains on HGTV and talk about moving to a beach, so who knows what our next move will be. I don't see us Fredericksburg long term though. Even though I've been here 15 years, it's never felt like home to me.
posted by COD at 7:05 AM on March 19, 2017

I come from Buffalo, and I want to tell you how to go back in time. Go see the Marchand Hall of Wildflowers at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

I have always loved the museums dioramas - they were windows to another world. It's where I fell in love with beautifully hand-lettered little signs, and where, as I grew old and discovered the magic of Google, I learned that the museum, to this day, doesn't do these vintage exhibits justice. There aren't any images on the website, and few tourists or locals think enough of them to snap them. I have to agree, that the hall is pretty empty whenever I go there, and that's why I've always had time to marvel at them in quiet contemplation and relative peace. "Paul and George Marchand created the Hall of Plant Life in 1936. Paul Marchand, well known throughout the world for his meticulous work created “scientifically accurate and artistically superb casts of flowers and mushrooms” as well as dioramas for the museum throughout his career."

Meticulous work? Holy crap, is it ever! I have always loved the dioramas and exhibits which haven't changed much since I was a kid and try to visit at least once a year - but as I've since learned, the way they're made is so intense and innovative that I now marvel at how the process was ever conceived. There was under-water oil painting involved!

In this article, Paul Marchand's Art of Science, I read: "In 1951, Popular Mechanics featured George in an article titled “Sculptor of a Prehistoric World.” It described the Marchand process: “In reproducing a flower, Marchand always starts with the original blossom. A plaster mold is made of each tiny filament, pistil and stamen. Then each part is cast in wax, celluloid or plastic. Delicate wax petals are reinforced with cotton fiber and hair-thin wires. The many parts are then assembled and colored to match the beauty of the original. Some ‘simple’ flowers, such as daisies, require only 15 molds, but a milkweed, much more complex to reproduce, requires 45 different molds." And, "Describing his process, Paul said he would anesthetize an animal such as a frog, pour casting material over it and remove the cast before the creature would emerge from its doze. “Then I take him out in the field and let him go,” he said, as quoted by the Buffalo News."

Aside from that, there was crime and sordid drama in the family's personal life. Every time I think to, I poke around the internet hoping someone has written a book or is about to make a movie or series about their family business.

Further, there isn't much else like these exhibits in the world, and there won't likely ever be:

“He did have a few folks apprentice under him over the years, but in the end no one carried on his work,” Pope said. “The cost of his creations became so expensive that it was cheaper, for most museums, to go with a lesser plastic mold design—of course it didn’t have the detail that Paul’s work had.”

An additional complication to continuing the Marchand process was that the way in which he developed the casts required the actual plant and consumed it during the process, Pope said.

“Some of the specimens in the Nature Museum probably couldn’t be replicated today by the same process due to protections that some of those plants have now days,” Pope said. “He wouldn’t be allowed to collect the plant for such a use, in other words. Then it was perfectly acceptable to do his work.”
posted by peagood at 7:18 AM on March 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

My hometown of Las Cruces, NM is smack-dab in the heart of Green Chile territory, so if you ever visit there, you should eat as much mexican food as possible and when asked the question "red or green" pick green. It's an area that was first colonized by Europeans way back in the late 1500s when Juan De Oñate came north searching for the Seven Cities Of Cibola. It's also quite close to White Sands National Monument, which is hundreds of square miles of sand dunes as white as sugar and is a great place to spend a day. There's a lot of interesting stuff in that area, and I always encourage people to visit the southern end of New Mexico rather than just concentrating on the more famous Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Taos area of the northern part of the state.

My current town of Cheney, WA is mostly known for having a college that has a football field with blood-red artificial turf. It's most famous for going into Spokane in the late 1800s while most of that town was attending a wedding gala and stealing all the county records and bringing them back so for a few years Cheney was the county seat until an election moved the seat back to Spokane. There's really no reason to visit Cheney, although I could easily provide a full weekend of sightseeing around greater Spokane area if anyone were ever to come here.
posted by hippybear at 7:29 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown has always been a weird mixture of a college town, a bedroom community, and just a little remnant of the Italian immigrants who ran the high-end agriculture that gave it the nickname "The Rose City". From the late 19th century well into the 20th century its position on a direct train line to NYC meant that it featured the summer estates of several prominent New York families. Half of the civic buildings were named after a deceased relative of the family that gave the money to build them, so they all had names like Dodge, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

That's my mom's hometown too, lived on Green Village Road. The Nautilus Diner has always been one of my favorite Jersey diners, especially after they tore down The Travelers in Dover.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 AM on March 19, 2017

Literaryhero: "Where I live now there are no trash trucks. There are these machines that you put trash bags into and then the bags go underground where there is a series of tunnels or pipes or something that move the trash to a centralized location and I'm not sure what happens then. "

The most amazing hidden thing in the whole thread and you don't tell us where it is? Mefimail me if you don't want your location public.
posted by Mitheral at 7:47 AM on March 19, 2017

There are these machines that you put trash bags into and then the bags go underground where there is a series of tunnels or pipes or something that move the trash to a centralized location and I'm not sure what happens then

Oh! I just read an article about how this works!
posted by belladonna at 7:53 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The train station in my hometown is very cool looking and was used in the video for Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. Until the mid-eighties, they still ran the same train cars from the 1920s because the lines were electrified using DC current so to change to newer cars they had to rewire the whole system to run AC. So as a kid in the '70s, I could ride to New York on cars that looked like they were in an 1930s Hollywood movie. At that point they still had a bar car on the commuter runs into New York so you could have a manhattan or two on your way into Manhattan.
posted by octothorpe at 8:06 AM on March 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Indianapolis has a lot of neat stuff that doesn't show up on a lot of visitor's radar, maybe because our highways seem to be designed to either bypass the city or route one through it as quickly as possible.

Some examples:

The Indiana Medical History Museum
The Indiana State Fair, which is every bit as corny and loony as it sounds.
We have a beautiful Statehouse, which is full of wonderful 19th century architecture.
The Indiana State Museum is here, of course- the exterior of the building has representations of all 92 counties in the state.
The Indiana War Memorial is a trove of militaria, for those interested in such things, from the civil war, onwards.
Of course, there's the Indianapolis 500 Museum.
We have a spectacular Central Library.
We have a pretty damn good Art Museum, as well. (See if you can spot the Mefi moderator there!)
We even have a small Pagan Pride festival!
Crown Hill Cemetery contains James Whitcomb Riley's tomb, as well as the grave of John Dillinger.
For a quieter pastime, there's the Canal Walk, right in the heart of downtown. Part of the walk includes the Medal of Honor Memorial.
There's the White River State Park, anchored by the Indianapolis Zoo at one end.
There's lots more!
posted by pjern at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My current home is New York, and the features of New York are well known to everyone here (to the point that some are saying "enough already"), so have a couple facts about my birthplace of Willimantic, Connecticut:

* The town is kind of obsessed with frogs, because of a mildly embarrassing story that happened in the 1750's. I wrote about it for Atlas Obscura a few years back, in a piece that gives a summary of the story and points out a couple of related landmarks; I also get into a couple paragraphs of herpetology, which was a BLAST to research (you wouldn't think that sitting in a herpetologist's kitchen for two hours and listening to frog mating calls would be interesting, but was fun).

* The town also has one of the most gloriously goofy small-town type parades ever - the Boom Box Parade, in which there are no marching bands or live music and the entire parade marches to the sound of music being broadcast out of portable radios all tuned into the local AM station, which is broadcasting a few hours of Sousa records. There is also no preregistration to participate - all you need to do to participate is something like "make sure you're at the old movie theater parking lot by 10:30 so we can all line up".

* I learned a few years back that a former archduke of Austria defected in the 1930's and emigrated to the US - he tried getting work as an actor, and when that didn't work, he moved to my home town and got a job in a factory. I would REALLY like to know what lead him from Hollywood to Wilimantic because it is far from an obvious choice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

(you wouldn't think that sitting in a herpetologist's kitchen for two hours and listening to frog mating calls would be interesting, but was fun)

Meanwhile, a bunch of women frogs have gotten together to listen to human male construction workers catcalling women who walk by, and they also think it was fun!
posted by hippybear at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2017

My hometown of Husum, Sweden is a paper and pulp mill town of ~1,600 residents and not a single stoplight. You took your bike to school, sharing the road with ginormous timber trucks driving too fast on the way to the mill. Everyone knew who you were if you got into trouble stealing apples from someone's garden or shooting yellow peas at cars with a blow-tube - the two most exciting activities we could devise during the summer when we got tired of fishing, playing football, or dropping rocks from the tallest bridge...

The town is not known at all really, even within Sweden, except for our local celebrity Eilert Pilarm - the Elvis Impersonator recently featured on the Tonight Show in a "Do Not Play" segment. (FTR, Eilert is a sweet man who doesn't speak English at all.)

The most interesting building in town for us kids wasn't the huge paper mill, or the ski jumping tower, or the water tower on the tallest hill in town, or even the old half-sunk timber boats that you could climb onto via giant chains if you were daring enough. Nope. It was the fallout shelter. For years we tried to figure out a way to see the inside of it. We tried to talk our teachers into taking us during the monthly emergency drill, when the siren at the factory went off. But the big green doors were always locked.

Until one day, when we walked by on our way to someone's house and tested the lock like we had hundreds of times before, and it sprang open suddenly! Oh my, our excitement was almost tangible! Finally!! That lasted until we opened the huge creaking metal door. There was nothing there after all. A few cots, some old blankets, some empty water tanks, a few instruction manuals... Nothing at all like the fallout shelters we had read about in books! What a disappointment. Because we were good kids, raised in a nice town, we locked the door again when we left and never again tried to open it.
posted by gemmy at 8:41 AM on March 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Everybody knows about the twisty part of San Francisco's Lombard Street, but Potrero Hill's uncrowded Vermont Street has more snaky turns.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:56 AM on March 19, 2017

a very real rivalry between snot-nosed Lexington (Rachel Dratch's home) and plucky Burlington (home of Amy Poehler).

I did not know that! I grew up down the street from there, in Boxboro (the town that looks like a box!) a town that has some notable Revolutionary War stuff, my mom, and not much else. It does have a cool glacial esker, three pretty well known hockey players (one of whom used to torment me as a kid!) and the flight attendant who reported that 9/11 was happening. Though, now that I look at Wikipedia, I think she's from Acton, the town we went to high school in..... fixed! Also thanks to Wikipedia I know I went to the same high school as Big Bird. My current hometown is small enough that the list of notable people includes me and the guy who raised the original Morgan Horse.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:22 AM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

My hometown is Helsinki. The city of Helsinki is located by the sea and has many islands that can be visited in the summer by ferry or boat. The same goes for Espoo, our neighbour.

I used to live in Haaga, a neighbourhood of Helsinki. There, tucked away in a small pine forest between tightly built areas is a Helsinki University research garden full of rhododendrons and azaleas. There are paths between the huge rhododendrons and viewing platforms where you can appreciate the view. The best time to visit is in the spring when rhododendrons are in full bloom. Another lovely little garden is Meilahti Arboretum and its Rosarium full of roses tended by local rose enthusiasts.

More well known treasures are Seurasaari and Lammassaari nature preserve. Seurasaari is a small island connected with a walking bridge to main land. It has small beaches for swimming, an outdoors museum full of strange and wonderfull old houses transported there over hundred years ago and lots very friendly squirrels. Lammassaari is an another little island. It can only be accessed by walking on a boarded path (about 1 km) through a huge bed of reeds higher than your head or by small boat. There are viewing platforms for bird watchers. You can continue on to another little island by Lammassaari and visit some friendly lambs who spend the summer there grazing and entertaining visitors.
posted by severiina at 9:52 AM on March 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

I grew up in Bellevue, WA USA. I can't think of a single unique or interesting thing about it. So here's a story about a different town in NW Washington:

The airport near Seattle is called SeaTac because it's between Seattle and Tacoma. The area around it eventually got built up and dense enough that it officially became a city. They had a contest to name the city, but I guess they didn't get any suggestions they liked because it's now the city of SeaTac, non-initial capitalization and everything.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:14 AM on March 19, 2017

My current home town used to have a factory that made ink and glue, as well as a cigarette factory. The latter was famous for having lots of modern art in the manufacturing halls.
Both factory buildings still exist today and are being used for new purposes. The former cigarette factory now houses the town hall.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:50 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid in rural Maryland (now apparently less rural, as most of the farms seem to have been turned into housing developments), the Ganesh statue at the Hindu temple near us started drinking spoonfuls of milk. It was part of the 1995 Hindu milk miracle. People came from all over to see it, and at the time it was a really big deal.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

This doesn't have anything to do with my hometown, but I wanted to share it and didn't know where else to put it. In June I made a comment about my deep, deep, ridiculous love for Pusheen and how amazingly tolerant my boyfriend has been in indulging it. I got a few fun lighthearted comments about how maybe I imagined my boyfriend but I assured MetaFilter he was real and he was devoted to me.

Last Monday was the four year anniversary of our first date and my boyfriend made an amazing slideshow of our relationship so far but instead of using actual photographs of us, he took photos of the real-life places and USED PUSHEEN CARTOONS TO REPRESENT ME. (He used a very cute cartoon dog to represent himself.) The last slide was the cartoon dog holding out a little pink doughnut and asking Pusheen to marry him and that's when my real-life boyfriend did the same with a real-life diamond. So I guess I just want to reiterate my boyfriend is real and OH MY GOD does he indulge my love for Pusheen. Also I have like a THOUSAND Ask MetaFilter questions to write because this wedding isn't going to plan itself.
posted by kate blank at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2017 [26 favorites]

A bit late to this thread this week as my weekend was spent cutting and shaving off my beard for the first time this decade. There were many reasons, but being mistaken for a professor of humanities was the final straw. So I've gone from this and this and this, to - this, yesterday. I nicked myself a few times during this operation, but that was partially as I was bopping away to Lorde's "Green Light" which has got inside my head (and pushed all of the Ed Sheeran out, hurrah).

Also, England is annoyingly cold in mid-March.

+ + + + +

My home village in Worcestershire is unremarkable apart from the large number of roadside stalls and farmshops (my family owned one), a few nice thatched cottages and a manor house.

And the church, which contains the tombs of various members of the Sandy's family (the pub is called the Sandys Arms), one of whom is Penelope. Her tomb in particular attracts American historians for two reasons. Firstly, she is a relative of George Washington. Second, the coat of arms chiselled into the tomb - if you look carefully at the pic I took, it's several horizontal bars and a few stars.

Yadda yadda yadda, depending on which American historian you listen to, it's possibly the earliest still tangible and recognisable example of your nations flag. It's been one of the influences on my lifelong fascination with the country; one of my earliest school memories, of the village school, was doing an etching or rubbing of that coat of arms (though they don't like you doing that now because of wear).

Ah found it - here's the George Washington family tree picture that my village church sell to tourists and the like, though there's apparently an error somewhere on it.

+ + + + +

Where do I fantasize about moving to? Golly gosh, that's a complex issue, bound up in the difficult-to-nail emotive issue of "what is home"? It depends on my mood; in the USA there are a bundle of reasons I love rural Iowa more than most places I've lived in, in my life. But then again, there's another bundle that puts Los Angeles top of my personal list. Widening the scope worldwide, Portugal (food and sun), Norway and Sweden (scenery and lifestyle) out of the countries I've visited so far. Out of those I haven't, Iceland appeals, as do the Andes in Chile.

But overall, and though I've been to Norway but not to this part within, I will continue to put The Lofoten Islands at the top of the list.

{thinks: huh. Maybe I should just do it}
posted by Wordshore at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was born in Peoria but moved when I was 7, so I always enjoy Eyebrows McGee's P-Town Tales.

I grew up in Plano,Texas which is not the Plano of the ubiquitous tackle and tool boxes; that's Plano, Illinois. It's a Friday Night Lights type of town. I'm not sure what the need/good to know info would be since I t's been so long since I've been there, and every time I visited things had changed considerably.

My adopted town has this little thing called the Colosseum that's pretty nifty. Insider info: spring and fall there are gorgeous murmurations of grackles wheeling across the sky in certain areas. Admire them from afar, because the carpet bomb of grackle shit in said areas smells to high heaven, and is slicker than snot if there's been the slightest bit of rain.
posted by romakimmy at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I grew up in planned community outside of Milwaukee, designed to be walkable, with affordable housing - started in 1936. It was a New Deal program championed by Eleanor Roosevelt. It worked then, worked in the 60's when I was growing up, and still works now (or so I've heard). This country could do some pretty cool stuff back in the day.
posted by klarck at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2017

I grew up in Congleton in England, which doesn't have that much interesting to say about it, but we did once have a mayor who went on to kill the King.

A few years after that, the monarchy was restored and the next king, Charles II, had him executed (but posthumously as he'd inconveniently died in the meantime).
posted by Catseye at 2:18 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Wilmington NC. Currently, my favorite odd place in town is The Serpretarium: Don't miss feeding time!

This place is an outgrowth of one man's enormous passion for snakes and is the also unlikely extravaganza that showcases his anti-government conspiracy theories.

But it is no mere small collection of snakes: it's an ENORMOUS collection of snakes and some reptiles housed in a very large dark grotto-like space that emits the odor of such critters; the likes of which are proceeded by the piercing shrieks of some huge macaws who relish the cacophony.

Of course the screeching adds to the surreal dimension of the wall behind them which showcases the current unusual idea that has captured the passion of our host. I fantasize about the current excuse for the leader of the US engaging in a little site-seeing/publicity shoot within the environs; it's a perfect fit for the insanity.
posted by mightshould at 2:24 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My former hometown of Medford Lakes, New Jersey has log cabin houses and winding streets called trails (named after Native American tribes and famous Native Americans). It has "Canoe Carnival" every August (since 1929). This is a parade held at night where each float must be balanced on two canoes, which have to be propelled around a smallish lake by paddlers (no motors allowed, though generators are used for lights and such on the floats.) The town pretty much shuts down, everyone puts Christmas lights on their houses and there are lots of parties. Youtube video of Canoe Carnival 2016 highlights.
posted by gudrun at 4:38 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Catseye: "I grew up in Congleton in England, which doesn't have that much interesting to say about it, but we did once have a mayor who went on to kill the King.

A few years after that, the monarchy was restored and the next king, Charles II, had him executed (but posthumously as he'd inconveniently died in the meantime).

I've just been reading about him because he seems to be an ancestor of mine although probably a great^x uncle not direct. My great grandmother's name was Bradshaw and we've traced her family back to Virginia in the 1660s at just about the time that a whole lot of Bradshaws in England decided that it would probably be a good idea to see what life what like in the colonies.
posted by octothorpe at 5:05 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Ah found it - here's the George Washington family tree picture that my village church sell to tourists and the like, though there's apparently an error somewhere on it."

Durham Cathedral has a lovely plaque dedicated to John Washington, who was prior in the cathedral:

Remember in these
cloisters which were
finished in his day
John Washington
of Washington in this county
prior of this Cathedral church
1416-1446 * whose family has won
an everlasting name in lands
to him unknown."

It's very poetic and I like to think of his descendants finding "an everlasting name in lands to him unknown." Definitely John Washington did not sit around thinking, "Man, I hope one of my grand-nephews becomes the first democratically-elected president in a new country on a continent as yet undiscovered and is universally beloved as a modern Cincinnatus, and my memory will be chiefly preserved because people so revere him ..."
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:12 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown is also the hometown of Dick Van Dyke, Gene Hackman, and Donald O'Connor—all of whom left as soon as they were able. It's an economically depressed small town that's been losing population since the 1970s.

And Trump got 70% of the county vote.

Move along, nothing to see.
posted by she's not there at 8:59 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've always dreamed about living in Oxford, for three reasons exactly: we watched a lot of Inspector Morse when I was a kid; also as a kid I was obsessed with the X-Files, and I knew Fox Murder had gotten his BA at Oxford; and the Bodleian Library is beautiful.

I also periodically dream about moving to rural Vermont. I used to visit friends there as a teenager and into my 20s. We had a family friend who lived by himself in a 150 year old farmhouse, cooked and heated his house by wood stove in the winter, and had a big handlebar mustache. We once came to visit and had a hard time reaching him before we arrived because it was the first day of Spring and he was lying in a patch of clover on a hillside. He was sort of my biggest male role model for a while. I have no idea how I could ever find work in rural VT, but anyway, it's a thought.

Or really, any rural place. Half of my childhood was spent in a rural area, and I think I feel most at home when I'm at an open field next to a quiet road in the afternoon sun. My girlfriend and I both grew up in the same area, and she likes to remind me that these tend to be overwhelmingly conservative areas where we'd never be able to find work. And that's probably true, but sometimes I still get overwhelmed by noise and other sensory stimuli in the city, as much as I love every city I've ever lived in. Every so often I'll read a book like The Pine Barrens and imagine a change in lifestyle. Or at least some quiet.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:39 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The weather's better than I thought, and it's reasonably warm, and the moon is down, so I may go try to spot Jupiter's moons when my shift is over. I gained the skill to spot moons right when Jupiter friggin' set for FOUR MONTHS so I'm very impatient to see them now that Jupiter is once again up at a reasonable hour!

I'm hoping later this week it's nice enough at sunset that I can spot Mercury.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:36 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I definitely saw Callisto (left of Jupiter), and two of Io, Europa, and Ganymede (all right of Jupiter), but I don't know enough to know which two. I THINK probably Europa and Ganymede but I'm not sure. Definitely turbulence in the air tonight as a storm is coming in, so hard to keep the two on the right steady and I may have been seeing three.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:12 PM on March 19, 2017 [12 favorites]

I spent most of my life (I'm 41 now) believing that the town where I was born (actually an Army base) no longer existed. But I found out just a few years ago that the base is still there, always has been. It's just the hospital that's been torn down, with a very nice new medical center built on another site.

I'm not sure why those wires crossed and how I'd gotten it so wrong. I'd probably misheard, made assumptions, run with it. It led to weird feelings of placelessness for many years, that the place where everything literally started for me was no longer a place at all, completely wiped from the map. It was kind of like being from the Roanoke Colony.
posted by mochapickle at 11:13 PM on March 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Late to the party but: Anchorage, Alaska! Came back after time away in Southern California, which didn't suit me so I am especially appreciative of it.

The city itself has basically no history, and buildings tend towards strip malls from the oil boom but! we have such good green space. From my house I can hop on the multituse bike trails and do a 30 mile loop around the city mostly along creeks with just one traffic light involved. And summer mornings I run and bike on dirt trails with the dog at Kincaid Park, 1500 acres of woods and beach with 60k of trails and get to feel like I'm the only one there (in the winter I ski on groomed trails and bike on the singletrack there and love that about 20k of those trails are lit for after-work skiing).

In a good year when it's sunny and there's snow for the sun to reflect off of and blind you, the way the light gallops along after March feels positively magical. We're gaining more than 5 minutes a day now and we're all a little delirious.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:19 AM on March 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

I live in a small rural Australian city, which is famous for its gigantic Merino ram (I have looked out its horrible eyes, back when it was a thing you could do - now it is a gift shop, with a lot of very nice woollen products). What we also have is a fantastic array of excellent domestic architecture, with terrific examples of every Australian architectural movement, many of them tremendously beautiful. Aside form that, I don't really like living here. It has a really filthy climate, among other issues.
posted by glitter at 2:59 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

small rural Australian city ... gigantic Merino ram ... gift shop ... nice woollen products ... fantastic array of excellent domestic architecture ... filthy climate

All that, glitter? Is not ... Goulburn?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:59 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I grew up in a small Australian town. My hometown boasts a giant murray cod. The town name is two words, each word is a thing the town does not have. We also just had an anthrax outbreak.

Everytime I hear about it in the news I go 'Whooo. I'm from there!'
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:59 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

My hometown is the home of the Wiffle Ball. In all my life I've never actually seen a living being enter or exit the building, so I operate on the assumption that it is basically Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in there. Except for Wiffle balls.
posted by pemberkins at 6:04 AM on March 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I grew up in South Amboy, NJ. The best secret thing is also what makes it so fucking racist.

Under the Christ Church Episcopal church old hall which burned down is a crypt and in the crypt is an exit tunnel that was part of the Underground Railroad. They would come up and the church would take them to the bay where the escaping slaves would be ferried over to New York and freedom.

No one in town talks about it. It was never maintained. There's no plaque. Half the people in town don't know it's even there.

I found out about it during a youth group meeting by accident. It was a discussion about church memories and one of the adults were like, "Anyone show you the Underground Railroad tunnel in the crypt?" We all about shit ourselves learning about it. The hall hadn't burnt down yet, and the church was using it as the thrift shop for the women's group. We didn't even know there was a crypt down there.

We troop down and I don't know what I was expecting, but it was a big tunnel. Like I'm 5'6" and the tunnel ceiling was taller. The entrance was just this big circular entrance cut into the crypt that went off into darkness. We wanted to go in exploring, but they told us we couldn't go in because no one had kept it up and it was too dangerous with collapses.

Standing in the open mouth made the hairs on my arms stand on end.

The fact that there's not tours of school kids down to see it, and it was never mentioned in the papers when the hall burnt to the ground still infuriates me.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I grew up in a small town in Western Illinois named Alexis with a current reported population of 863, and it was only slightly larger in my youth. It's unique in that the town is split not only between two counties but also four townships. (This fact was mentioned in Ripley's Believe It Or Not, which would be a lame one if you weren't from there, but is awesome if you were.) I've never had this confirmed as a fact, but the rumor that the town would be split between different schools if we ever consolidated with another district kept the elementary and high school in town for many years longer than you might expect. I had a graduating class of 19 people, which was small even for the district at the time, but within a decade it was the new normal, so consolidation eventually happened. But the town still remains.

Alexis was originally called Alexandria (after one of its founders John E. Alexander) but after learning of another Illinois town named Alexander (there were two others actually), they decided to change the name, and since around this time, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia was visiting the U.S., they named it Alexis in his honor even though he was never anywhere near it. (You might be able to imagine the disconnect of this local fact and growing up in a very politically conservative town during the Cold War.)

Now it's probably best known (if at all) as the home of Alexis Fire Equipment, easily the biggest employer in town and one of the few industries in the area that has actually grown since I was there as a kid; if you don't think having a place that built freaking customed crafted FIRE TRUCKS for distribution all over the world is cool, you were a very different child than I was (and a very different adult).

It's also an hour from the mentioned-in-the-first comment Wildlife Prairie Park, which isn't necessarily relevant, but I give it my fullest recommendation.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cincinnati has seven hills, like Rome, and unlike Rome was the pork-packing capital of the US for some time in the early 1800s. It is still known, charmingly, as Porkopolis. Their marathon is the Flying Pig. The reason Procter and Gamble got started there was the abundance of hog lard with which to make soap.

Cincinnati used to be very German, and as a result, there's a dying regionalism of saying, "Please?" instead of "What?" because the Germans say "Bitte?" when they didn't catch what you said the first time around. There has also been a resurgence of downtown breweries, which makes visiting my mom a lot more fun.

Cincinnati is infamous for Cincinnati chili (which means Skyline, not Gold Star, I will fight you). Cincinnati chili is emphatically not a soup, it's a cocoa-y, cinnamon-y meat sauce that's served over noodles or a hot dog with a truly obscene amount of grated mild cheddar cheese on top.

Being just across the river from Kentucky, Cincinnati was a final stop for many on the Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened there several years ago. I've not been yet, but I hear it's wonderful.
posted by coppermoss at 4:00 PM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

My hometown is not in a county. The amount of disbelief this causes, even from people who should know better, is truly amazing. People act like you've told them you have no mother.
posted by wnissen at 5:27 PM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

My birthplace has the best greasy spoon in the world.
posted by jonmc at 6:40 PM on March 20, 2017

Bit meta (natch!) but I spent my early years growing up in Portsmouth, UK. It's a decent city, but there was a half-joke I heard once that the only people living there were the ones who wouldn't or couldn't move away and that's kind of coloured my perceptions of it ever since, regardless of its truth or otherwise.

When I was little I could look out of our flat's kitchen window and see the mast of HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship. If you know Pompey at all, you'll realise that's a much less grand claim than it sounds, because it all-but locates me in a grotty council flat. I always thought it was cool though, despite not really having much knowledge of Nelson, Trafalgar or naval history generally.

A game we played in our family was "How much do you love me?" where the trick was to out-do the distance claimed by the other person. "All the way to the front door!", "All the way to the bottom of the stairs!", "All the way to the Victory!", etc. After she was raised and installed in the Historic Dockyard close to the Victory the final canonical answer, i.e. the greatest distance/quantity of love imaginable was (and remains) "All the way to the Mary Rose and back again!"

So, I'm strongly attached to Portsmouth despite not having been born there. Familiarity breeds contempt, so I guess as a child I assumed everywhere had historic vessels and a bit of an old castle and the the most gloriously ugly Brutalist building in Britain and Charles Dickens' birthplace and a naff, perennially-underacheiving England-writ-small football club and all the rest. As an teenager I took up that natural cynicism to which flesh is heir and that was that. I liked the place where I'd grown up, but that was due to an accident of circumstance, not its intrinsic qualities.

On a rare flit through Ask Metafilter the other week I saw a "Where to go around the UK?"-type question and being one for a daytrip I skimmed through it. I can safely say that seeing a couple of Mefites express such strong interest and enthusiasm for the place where I grew up (for the ship I could see from my kitchen!) really gave me pause and made me think about the place differently for a moment. Seeing it with new/borrowed eyes, if you will.

(Pompey is also composed of people as well as places, but that's a whole separate post).
posted by comealongpole at 8:06 PM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I feel like I have three hometowns: the little place out middle of nowhere I grew up, Springfield where I went to school, and Eugene where I performed, went to school, and nourished a love of books and music. All in Oregon of course. In France, Lyon feels like home even though I only lived there for a year, Nice doesn't feel like home in spite of living there for 15 years, and Paris very definitely feels like home.

Out where I grew up, the main thing to know is that you can catch crawdads in the crick. Stickers (wild blackberries) grow to giant proportions, as do rhododendrons. Deciduous trees have well-manicured bottoms thanks to the attentions of cows.

Springfield's concrete was and still is mostly poured by my maternal grandfather and one of his sons (an uncle).

Eugene! My paternal grandfather helped build what became the REI store that's still there. That gorgeous wood staircase? Yup. My grampa. His company built a lot of the older brick buildings in city center too, and several wooden houses. The UO has the largest library west of the Mississippi with the Knight Library. Pretty sure you can go in and visit. It's a beautiful campus, they purposefully planted very diverse trees throughout. Early morning raccoon sightings are a thing. If you visit in late afternoons, there's a small field between the Knight Library and the School of Music where the marching band have rehearsals (not every day).

Lyon! Even if you only walk all four quais you'll be doing pretty well. You should definitely check out the traboules. If, like me, you have a thing for books, you'll want to visit all four sides of Place Bellecour. Accounting for aforementioned book affinities, it can easily fill up an entire day.

Paris! Mainly I love it because I always dreamt of visiting the Louvre and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), which at the time was merely called the Bibliothèque nationale, but Mitterrand came along and built a contemporary castle of books (the four towers are open books) and "France" was added to the name.

Living here meant I was able to get a subscription card (abonnement) for the Louvre, which is very much worth it if you plan on visiting more than a few times. It lets you skip entrance queues, among other things. I went two or three times a week for a year, and that remains one of my favorite memories. This month I got a new job that just so happens to be right next to the BnF, and they too have a yearly card, only costs 15 euros and gets you free access to most of the collection. There are still special areas set aside for researchers. It's heaven on earth.

I hear there are things other than art, music, and books in Paris but that's mere anecdote.
posted by fraula at 7:22 AM on March 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

My current hometown was the site of the largest Axis prisoner escape in the United States during WW2. The escape attempt was foiled by the prisoners not knowing how desert rivers work (i.e., that they're just a big ditch most of the year.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:22 PM on March 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Marx and Engels invented Communism here, in Manchester.
posted by alasdair at 2:46 PM on March 21, 2017

Wait, unknown? Oops.
posted by alasdair at 2:47 PM on March 21, 2017

One of the coolest things in my hometown of Fresno, CA is the Underground Gardens, which a Sicilian immigrant spent forty years creating. Catacombs, fruit trees, grapevines, all underground. It's not exactly unknown, but I know lots of Fresnans who have never been there. It's pretty cool. And we also have our own weird sandwich. Get one here even though they spell it wrong.
posted by OolooKitty at 8:11 PM on March 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

You can see where Jumbo the elephant was tragically killed and memorialzed in the town I was born in: St. Thomas, Ontario.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:08 PM on March 22, 2017

I now live in Bakersfield California, where once upon a time, there was a fire in a pet shop. A group of Conure parrots escaped and set up housekeeping in the outdoors of my area in the city. The other day, in the backyard, I looked up and a smooth, large, green parrot was picking the berries of Mojave pyrcantha. Then I heard the story. Parrots abound here.
posted by Oyéah at 7:51 PM on March 22, 2017

Where do I begin.

- On the cool side: Paul Theroux grew up in my hometown (his mom was my mother's kindergarten teacher!) and Maria Menounos was a year behind me in high school. (My brother, who was a freshman when she was a senior, invited her to the prom. She wouldn't take him.) Muriel Morrissey, Amelia Earhart's sister, settled in my hometown and supposedly lived near my grandparents, but I never met her.

- Less cool: My hometown has always had some weird racial conflicts. The oldest surviving slave quarters in the North is around the corner from my house; a race riot closed the high school for a week when I was a sophomore; and, more recently, the police department made national news for endorsing 45 in the lead-up to the general while in uniform.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:39 AM on March 23, 2017

Anyone interested in the social history of Portsmouth might like Alison Light's book about her family history - she grew up there. It's called Common People.
posted by paduasoy at 9:31 AM on March 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe not the coolest thing but quite interesting- the painstaking restoration of a large mosaic which was only recently discovered in the foyer of Melbourne's Forum Theatre.
posted by Coaticass at 1:05 PM on March 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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