What is a Hipster Neighborhood?

Imagine it’s a lovely San Francisco morning.  You’re lounging in Dolores Park with a Junot Diaz novel in one hand and a single-origin iced coffee in the other.  The aroma of frying bacon emanates from the cafe on the corner, alight on an ocean breeze.  Soon, you’ll dip into Mission Thrift in search of the perfect bomber jacket.  Then you will meet the girls for palomas.  The city is breathing.

Ladies, say goodbye to the Jersey Shore.  Tell Detroit to back away slowly.  Hip neighborhoods across the country—like the Mission District described above— are the stuff dreams are made of.  These are faraway lands where SoulCycle classes, street fashion and coffee houses run rampant.  We’re talking about hipsterhoods.  But er… what is a hipsterhood, exactly?

Okay.  First things first.  Hipsters.  The world loves to hate them.  The truth is, the word “hipster” is kind of meaningless.  It’s more of a you-know-them-when-you-see-them-and-they’re-probably-wearing-plaid kind of thing.

But hipsterhoods—urban awesomeness nestled in the country’s most stylish cities like Portland, Seattle and New York—are much easier to categorize.

We know hipsterhoods are where the densest amount of “hipsters” live.  But the real question is, why do these Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking trendsetters flock to certain urban areas?

In 2012, Forbes and Nextdoor.com canvassed more than  250 neighborhoods to determine the best hipster cities using the following criteria:

-The walkability according to Walkscore.com

-The number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita

-The assortment of local food trucks (and their ranking according to Zagat’s)

-The number and frequency of farmers’ markets

-The percentage of residents who work in artistic occupations

-The number of locally-owned restaurants and bars and

-The number of unicycles found parked outside the local Goodwill.

(One of these isn’t true).

A hipsterhood is a place where you can walk most everywhere, grab a gourmet grilled cheese at a food truck at 2 a.m.

So okay.  According to this study, a hipsterhood is a place where you can walk most everywhere, grab a gourmet grilled cheese at a food truck at 2 a.m., and gallivant with interesting and artsy young people.  So far, our count is Suburbs: -100.  Hipsterhoods: 100,000,000.

Let’s take a closer look:  Silver Lake, for example, is a trendy neighborhood nestled between Echo Park and Los Feliz in Los Angeles.  In 2012, Silver Lake topped Forbes’ inaugural list of “America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods.”  In 2013, it was ranked the best neighborhood in L.A. by CNNMoney’s “Best Big-City Neighborhoods.”  Hey, Silver Lake, maybe you should change your name to Gold Lake.  Whaaaaatt?

Studies show that hipsters want to live in walkable, transit-accessible cities.  And while the “no walking in L.A.” stereotype usually holds true, that’s not the case in Silver Lake.  There’s a stretch of Sunset Boulevard running through Silver Lake that’s packed with shops and hot spots.

Another of our fave features is the Silver Lake Reservoir.  Smack in the middle of the community, this two-miles-around body of water adds a pretty, element uncharacteristic of L.A. (…where, let’s face it, nature usually goes to die).

Silver Lake also features a multicultural blend of residents, a thriving arts scene, and some of the nation’s best food trucks and farmers’ markets.  Not to mention it’s almost as if the whole community was picked up and dipped in style.  In Silver Lake, someone you know has been featured on a street fashion blog.

There are eateries like Flore, with its inventive vegan fare, and Forage, a restaurant featuring all locally sourced ingredients.  There’s a bar that poet Charles Bukowski used to frequent, record stores and taco shops.  Even the architecture boasts an avant-garde aesthetic hipsters love.

Besides Silver Lake, other lauded hipsterhoods include:

-Warehouse District, LA

-The Uptown, Oakland, CA

-Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

-East Austin, Austin, TX

-Pearl District, Portland, OR

-Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

-Wicker Park, Chicago, IL and

-North Park, San Diego, CA.

I don’t classify myself as a hipster, but I’m tempted to run upstairs, pack my suitcase and move to Capitol Hill right now.  Oh wait, it rains in Seattle, huh…

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Natalie Holtz
Natalie Holtz is an avid blogger and freelance journalist living in San Diego. Her work has been featured in regional magazines and by online publications such as WordPress' Freshly Pressed, Elephant Journal and Quarterlette. Inspired by her real estate-saavy grandmother, Natalie dreams about owning a house with a clawfoot bathtub and a garden. She is also passionate about empowering others to live their best lives through her writing. For more on Natalie, visit her blog http://thesurferstokeproject.com/.
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