Friday, March 24, 2017


A web site named goodcall.com published a list of overlooked dream cities, with a population under 300,000.  Scranton was second.  Erie came in first.

Strange to say, but I used to be a frequent vacationer in Erie.  My first trips there were during Tom Ridge's run for governor in 1994.  My itinerary was the same for each vacation visit.  I'd drive out on Route 6, one of the best rides ever.  Scenery.  Small towns.  beautiful, but long.  I'd get a room at a downtown hotel, indulge in their appetizer specialty called the "basket of fire," walk ten blocks to the lake, watch the water, go back to the hotel, do a little driving and wandering for a couple more days, then go home.  My return trip was on Route 17 (now Route 86) across the southern tier of New York.  There would be a stop in Corning to visit friends on the way back.

Erie has its charm, but # 1?  I don't see it.  It's a great place in the summer and fall.  Winter?  Forget it!  There are attempts at a downtown revival.  Erie has a minor league baseball stadium, a restored theater (like Wilkes-Barre's Kirby Center) and an ice hockey.  There's a downtown park that's filled with a festival just about every weekend.  Some restaurants, not much retail.  Gannon University.  A couple of hospitals.  A bayfront hotel and a casino.  You can't forget about Presque isle State park.

The outskirts of the city look like any other one-- a mall, countless trip malls and other stores.  There are some beautiful vineyards along the lake.

I found the people of Erie to be very nice.  Unfortunately, they've heard the nasty Erie jokes so long, they start to believe them.  Industry has deserted the place, and Erie is the definition of "rust belt."

Overall, it's not a bad place, and I like it there (when the weather cooperates).  Top billing on the list?  Well, I'm not there yet.