Is Winter Worse in the City?

Maybe on the face of it, it sounds like a silly question. How can winter be worse downtown? Further, aren’t temperatures a usually a couple of degrees warmer in the concrete jungle? Well, the question came to me as I walked to the State Street Recycle center. The temperature didn’t seem so bad when I stepped out my door, so I walked back in and dropped my jacket. What I learned was that the temperature wasn’t bad if you stood in the sunshine and found a spot where the wind is blocked.

In the real world of the city that doesn’t happen. It was painful. My hat blew off my head twice. It’s not easy holding your hat, carrying your recycle bag and trying to keep your camera from hitting the ground.

So, why would I suggest it’s worse than someplace in the suburbs? Well, honestly, I’m not sure it is, but here are some reasons it may be: 1) Tall buildings block the sunshine 2) Blocks of tall buildings operate like wind tunnels, seeming to make the wind blow harder and 3) Moreso than the suburbs, life in the city is defined as hitting the streets.

In the winter when I lived in a west Knoxville neighborhood, it never felt like I was trapped when I came home from work. None of us ever ventured out much, anyway, so it didn’t seem strange not seeing neighbors for months at a time. Since I moved, my expectations are different: I expect to be moving about the city blocks and seeing familiar faces. When I can’t do that, I feel a bit like I’m under seige, so to me it feels more extreme. Particularly when the intensely cold weather lasts for several days like it has several times this winter and last.

So, what do you think? Is there really any difference or do I have too much thinking time on my hands as I stare out the window into the cold, cold city?

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