Being a current grad student at Arizona State and having an undergraduate history at Ohio State, I can say that I know both these university cities quite well. There are many differences between Tempe, Arizona and Columbus, Ohio. For one, the art and music scene in Columbus is far superior than Tempe. On the other hand, Tempe is more spread out, wealthier, commercialized, and every inhabitant rides a longboard. The most profound difference, however, is found in the landscapes.
There is a reason why Tempe, and adjacent cities, are collectively called “the valley.” This is because it is essentially that. Together with Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley, and any other city I forgot to mention, the valley is home to 4 million of the state’s 6.5 billion people. The demarcation of the valley is created by the bevy of mountains that surround it. These are not found in Columbus, and the mountains that do exist in Ohio, are mere foothills compared to the likes of Arizona’s.
The mountains are so massive that they often determine city-planning practices. But this is not really why I am mentioning them. I am mentioning these mountains because they are beautiful, awesome, and extremely fun to climb. Camelback Mountain has been my most enjoyable climb to date, but I’ve been told that Superstition Mountain is far superior. I’ve been to the top of South Mountain, but didn’t climb it. It took 15 minutes to ascend by car so one can only imagine how long it would take by foot!
The feeling of climbing a mountain is irreplaceable. Each step one rises a little higher, the air becomes cooler and easier to breathe, and about half way up the feeling of freedom enfolds you. Looking down, one sees the city getting smaller and smaller and the people becoming ever more ant-like.
It is a refreshing recreational activity. I couldn’t imagine life in Tempe, Arizona without them, they are essential landmarks to Tempe and to the life it provides. The mountains are certainly a brand for this place; the people who live here have all grown up with them, and those who have not, all grow to love them.
What elements make a place? What natural elements were/are/have become brands for your city? A culture? A society? Why do you think this?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.