Every once in a while someone tells me they like a particular city because it’s “very clean.” When that happens, what I really hear that person saying is “I judge cities by suburban standards.”

Cities are inherently messy places, and the best ones, with the most vitality, are often the messiest. If a city is too clean then it’s just an office park.

Of course, vitality means messy in the sense of being busy, which is different than messy in sense of being dirty. But how bad do litter and grime have to become before they overwhelm one’s enjoyment of a place? Worse than in most cities, I think. Litter stinks, but a newspaper on the floor doesn’t make me want to leave the Smithsonian.

[Continue reading Dan Malouff’s post at BeyondDC.]

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at BeyondDC.com. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.