Monday, February 3, 2014

Clintonville is the Williamsburg of Columbus

The results of the Gawker survey made the Facebook rounds last week: Clintonville -- the neighborhood we now call home -- was named the Williamsburg of Columbus.

I disagree.

Williamsburg is the hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn, where transplants to the city pay large amounts for small spaces in order to be surrounded by artsy shops and restaurants. The joke about Williamsburg is that Midwesterners flock to the neighborhood in order to experience the "New York" they've always dreamed about. The punchline being, of course, that they're surrounded by other Midwesterners.

Gawker asked its readers to decide which neighborhood in their own city is most like Williamsburg. The author clarified: in which neighborhood do  "the self-consciously arty creative-class would-be bohemians congregate"?

The votes were tallied, and Clintonville and German Village tied for the title in Columbus. I haven't verified a Facebook comment I read that stated that only five votes were cast for the city, but it's clear the results were far from scientific. It made for good conversation nonetheless.

My vote for the Williamsburg of Columbus would have been for the Short North, the art district of the city just north of downtown. It's much more consciously hip -- probably about as "hipster" as any neighborhood in the city.

Clintonville, on the other hand, is more down-to-earth. It has some of the same grittiness that Williamsburg is known for, but with a fraction of the destination shops and restaurants that both Williamsburg and the Short North are home to.

Clintonville, I decided, is the Fort Greene of Columbus -- close to downtown and growing in popularity. (Another comment I read made a case for Ditmas Park. Its combination of walkability, drivability and general food-co-opiness also makes it an acceptable answer.)

However much fun it is to compare Columbus and Brooklyn neighborhoods, of course no one neighborhood is a replica of another. The biggest difference, I think, is this: nearly every Brooklyn neighborhood is urban, and very few in Columbus are. In that way, only a few Columbus neighborhoods -- Clintonville among them -- is in the least like any Brooklyn neighborhood. And that's why we chose Clintonville to begin with.

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