A Tale of Two Cities: Greenville SC and Tucson AZ

Downtown Greenville

Downtown Greenville

Greenville SC and Tucson AZ have few things in common.  Since I live in both cities (at different times of the year), I thought I’d divulge the contrasts… 
GREENVILLE:  Large houses on big lots, but relatively narrow streets, often without sidewalks or bike lanes.  Trees everywhere; twisting streets; rolling topography.
TUCSON:  Like a big bowl surrounded on three sides by mountains; smaller homes, few large trees or grass.  Wide streets.  Sidewalks and bike lanes plentiful.  Gentle sloping topography, almost flat; streets laid out in grid.
GREENVILLE:  Few pedestrians or bikers.  Easy to get lost.  (No landmarks visible in most of city.)
TUCSON:  Many bikers and joggers.  Impossible to get lost.  (You can see across city everywhere in town, and gauge your location by mountains.)
GREENVILLE:  No liquor or beer sold on Sunday.  Churches on practically every street corner, most of the red brick Colonial style with tall steeples.  No liquor sold outside of few liquor stores, with tight restriction.  
TUCSON:  Alcohol sold on Sunday.  Liquor available even in grocery stores. (Brandy sold in milk section!)  Less than half the number of churches, although more than twice the population.
GREENVILLE:  Outdoor activities limited to malls, restaurants, ball parks, a few lakes, golf courses, and a main street that has seen phenomenal development due to investment and a belief in the prosperity gospel and the gospel of prosperity.  (Plus the city sits on a lucrative crossroads for distribution to other states).
TUCSON:  Five major resorts, plus Old Tucson Studios movie set, Saguaro National Monument, two casinos, Pima Air Museum (largest aircraft graveyard in the world), Titan Missile Museum, Kitt Peak National Observatory, University of Arizona museums of art and mining, Colossal Cave, Desert Museum (ranked in the top 10 in the U.S.), Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, plus hiking, camping, rock climbing, cycling, and two national golf courses.  (But plans for the downtown area have failed to move beyond the drawing board, although millions were squandered on developer plans and city council fights, while most investors wait for others to make the first move.)
GREENVILLE:  Majority of residents overweight.  Cold winters, humid summers.
TUCSON:  Higher Hispanic population, fewer African American.  Mild winters, very hot and dry summers.  Rain primarily from mid-July to Sept, and only in late afternoon.  Can go three months without a drop of rain.
GREENVILLE:  Conservative. Protective. Relatively employed. (BMW is here, three colleges; is a hub for shipping and manufacturing.)
TUCSON:  Liberal. “Green.” Relatively unemployed. (Although there is Raytheon, some call centers, and the University of Arizona.)
Finally, I’ll relate going into a record store in Greenville, and asking for electronic music.  “What is that?” the clerk wanted to know.  In Tucson the bookstores and record stores carry every imaginable type of music and book.  The stores are eclectic, the clerks have tattoos, and they speak electronic.  Their shirts read “Fight Censorship.” In Greenville the shirts read “Greenville.”


Even parking garages in Greenville have condos

The “wild” west is actually less wild in real life.

Westgate Mall

This mall is 25 miles from Greenville. Spartanburg is bullseye for domestic violence in America, and although it’s full of Baptist churches like Greenville, is ranked the 10th worst city in America for well being. Even cell phone photos are not allowed inside the mall, which was mostly empty when I visited during peak hours. By contrast, Greenville’s Heywood Mall is usually busy, is teen friendly, has Wifi storewide, and photos are okay. (Maybe Westgate doesn’t want people to see how empty it is?)

Republican dream

This is the Republican Dream: you roll from church to buffet to gun store to Wal Mart. Then you watch TV for four hours, sleep and repeat.

What Dreams May Come

This is the Democratic Dream: you connect to the universe, jog for the rain forests, and go home to eat a kale salad.


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