28 January . 2019
The City of Oaks is Dubbed "Sneaky Cool"
That’s how goldsmith Lauren Ramirez, a transplant from San Francisco, described Raleigh to me when I popped into her jewelry studio in late November. It was the same morning that I saw a man break dancing in the middle of the street before 8 a.m. and one day after I’d made an impulse purchase that sparkled like a disco ball.
'It sneaks up on you,' Ramirez said about the city’s cool factor, as her dog Alfred sat at my feet. She moved to Raleigh on a whim five years ago and wasn’t sure if she’d make it. But then her business took off, and now she appreciates the city’s small-town feel and the extent to which locals support each other.
I hadn’t visited Raleigh for any length of time since I was a kid but had a sense that it was a staid state capital, the cultural underdog of the Research Triangle. (Its other points being Chapel Hill and Durham.) As I biked around, eating, shopping and talking to locals, I realized that if my assessment wasn’t already outdated it would be, soon.
The City of Oaks is growing swiftly, with a population of nearly 500,000. As I explored, I found a progressive city in a state that often isn’t, a place full of public art and bike paths and a university-inspired hub of innovation and design. Locals are at once excited about growth and worried about how it will change their city.
After three days, I wanted more Raleigh. I stayed an extra night and then an extra hour the next morning, waiting for Boulted Bread to open. The windows of the bakery were steamy, and I was second in line. I left town with a bag of pastries on the passenger seat and my new, super cool purchase in the back. Glitter track pants from Edge of Urge had snuck into my life. I loved them already."
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