I’ve spent a lot of time jocking D.C. in the past week, and while I maintain that it is superior to San Francisco in pretty much every way that matters to a reasonable human being, it does have its drawbacks like any other major city.
5 drawbacks of Washington, D.C. and why it is still superior to San Francisco
1. poor/ugly/homeless people do exist in D.C.
According to some of my friends, there are lots of poor, homeless people roaming the wide, clean streets of D.C. I just didn’t see them, probably because I stayed in the ritzier parts of the city. Fair enough. But the thing is, San Francisco doesn’t have comparably ritzy areas. In my book, ritziness is defined by high levels of a) urban-ness and b) cleanliness. San Francisco’s financial district, which is the cleanest part of the city that still feels urban, is chock full of homeless people and their bodily waste, and the Marina, supposedly the richest, whitest neighborhood in San Francisco, functions and feels like a suburb and still looks run-down compared to the nicer parts of D.C. Therefore, in San Francisco, you can have clean or urban-feeling, but not both, and hence no real ritziness.
2. cultural homogeneity
If you value “diversity,” i.e., really like seeing homeless minorities and hipsters on the streets, D.C. is not the place for you. While the neighborhoods I stayed in contained some racial and socioeconomic diversity, D.C., as a whole, felt white-washed and straight-laced compared to San Francisco, which was great for me but probably not for someone who likes to mingle with poor, smelly people.
Because all the guys wear suits to work, the bars at night are full of guys in ties and un-tucked dress shirts, which can make the bar scene feel like one giant MBA party. The Boyfriend, who believes that dressing well doesn’t necessarily entail suit and tie, thinks people in D.C. look boring. I agree to a certain extent, but considering the San Francisco alternatives (dudes in leggings and hipster overalls, girls in tie-dye and potato sacks), clean and conservative is not a bad default.
3. miserable winters
Yes, D.C. winters are cold and dark, but the other three seasons make up for it. I love hot summers and would rather suffer cold winters to get to them than shiver in half-assed, 55-degree weather year-round.
4. government industry
I like D.C. aesthetically, but I’m completely bored by government and politics. I just can’t bring myself to care. As a libertarian misanthrope, I’m also slightly wary of large organizations that claim to serve the public good. Every other building in the neighborhood we stayed in was some kind of embassy or government institute, and after passing the HRC and the Carnegie Endowment for National Peace for the fifth time in two days, things started feeling a little oppressive.
5. everybody goes to church
This was actually the biggest problem for me. The Boyfriend and I strolled around the city on Easter, and I noticed that all the guys were in suits and all the women in gorgeous sundresses and heels. This made me very happy. I spent the entire afternoon basking in their collective beauty until I realized that these people were dressed for church. That kind of ruined it for me. Maybe I should be more tolerant of Christianity, but something about large groups of people getting together to worship a made-up deity freaks me out.