In the last couple of months I’ve visited two great northern shelf cities– Stockholm and Edmonton. Stockholm has a magnificent setting (it’s built on more than 30,000 islands and islets so there is a bridge somewhere every few hundred metres), a marvelous subway and bus system, superb university and post secondary institutions, a baby boom, unbelievable startup scene (home of spotify, tictail and skype). awesome museums/bars/clubs/people…
I was surprised how much I also liked Edmonton. It’s more industrial/blue collar than either Stockholm or Ottawa (there seem to be more pickup trucks there than people) but it has the University of Alberta, an emerging downtown scene and a LRT (which is more than we can say about Ottawa which entered into binding agreements with PCL and Siemens before welshing on the deal– spending $135 million and getting… nothing).
So my impression as a neo-urbanist is that Edmonton is ahead of Ottawa by a bit (even though its population is around 820,000 while Ottawa’s is around 900,000 and Stockholm’s is 872,000) but behind Stockholm. The only issue I have with Stockholm is that it is the last stop before you meet Kris Kringle; it’s latitude is just a shade below 60 (59.3294 degrees, Edmonton is 53.5333 degrees while Ottawa is at 45.4214) which means that Stockholm gets just 6 hours and five minutes of light on December 22nd when every Swede feels like committing suicide.
Here are some images I took in Edmonton set to music:
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