My favorite place in the world is my hometown of Utica, New York.
Some people wonder why, as it’s seen as an old manufacturing town that’s past its prime. It’s dying. It’s decaying.
It’s got problems, don’t get me wrong, as do many of the towns and cities that follow the path of the Mohawk River and Erie Canal across Central New York. But there’s something there that I don’t think I truly appreciated living and growing up there.
That something is a welcoming nature and the fact that the city has always been a magnet for immigrants. It has a vibrant mix of heritages from the waves of immigrants that have settled there over the years. Italians, Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, and Irish made the place great through the early part of the 20th century. I still think it’s the best place in the world for Italian food. Go here or here or here. You’ll see.
Diversity is what makes Utica great. There’s an extremely positive show on NPR that explains what it’s all about. Fifty minutes of time, but time well spent. More on it from the Observer-Dispatch as well. It tells you why the nickname “The second chance city” is fitting.