Columbia has its boxes checked

A slice of Shakespeare's pizza in Columbia, Mo.

By Matthew Hibbard

This post is part of a TNGG series on cities.

I am going to just come out and say it…I love SimCity.

You get to build cities from scratch and destroy your city, (and two hours of your life), with a simple tornado.

But as I sit here and wait for my city to get out of debt, I realize that each town I make is unique in some way. Each town, for the most part, can survive and be livable.

Columbia, Missouri may not have subways or an international airport, but it does have music venues and coffee shops that keep the locals anchored and the visitors coming back.

This college town has many boxes checked off.

The pizza hangout, Shakespeare’s, check. It sits across the street from campus, but there more than just college students dine there. The place is always crowded, it’s decorated with pictures of Mizzou sports, license plates and tons Missouri memorabilia. The pizzas are always hot and require multiple pink washcloths to wipe away the grease.

The best part of Shakespeare’s is that you get to take the plastic cup with you. I’ve collected my fair share of Shakespeare’s cups over the last couple of years and for a college guy who doesn’t have time to wash dishes, they sure come in handy.

The local coffeehouse, Lakota, check. This small coffeehouse is a great place to study and relax. It is located in the heart of downtown Columbia and mixes urban brick with comfortable leather couches. I do a lot of my people watching at Lakota, which offers a great atmosphere and a great cup of coffee for any situation.

The summertime ice cream shop, Sparky’s, check. In every great town there’s a great place to get good ice cream. In Columbia, it’s Sparky’s. Open only during the summer months, Sparky’s offers a wide range of ice cream concoctions that are sure to make you say, “what’s in this?” It’s a treat for all residents to indulge in and it’s one of Columbia’s sweetest ways to cool off during the hot summer.

The town has more than just food though. It has shops like Cool Stuff, where every nick knack can be found. It has parks and trails, libraries, local breweries, Broadway shows and city festivals for every kind of person.

One of my favorite festivals is Earth Day, when you get to see all of Columbia’s finest residents. You walk by a belly dancer talking to a man clothed entirely in leather, a family that could pass for just leaving Woodstock, and a couple of college freshmen witnessing this festival for the very first time.

The Earth Day festival brings local music, organic food and new environmental initiatives to downtown Columbia streets. The city shows its true colors and its unique character.

I love Columbia. Maybe it’s because of the biking trials, vegetarian eateries or the winding roads that snake along the Missouri river. Maybe it’s the people that live on far-away country farms or live in apartments above Broadway. This town has crafted its own identity, giving visitors a reason to come back again and again.

Yes, I love my hour, (okay two hours), of SimCity, but it’s not the real deal. What really makes a city come alive is what makes it fun, exciting and a place to call home. For young people, Columbia provides the opportunity to grow, explore and unwind together.

Matt is always up to no good, instead he’s always up to something awesome – telling your story. He’s a junior at Mizzou studying convergence journalism and sociology. When Matt is not taking photos (I hear it’s one of his favorite hobbies) he likes to take spontaneous road trips, bake banana bread and daydream. You can visit his photo blog and view his journalism portfolio at Oh and he wanted me not to forget to tell you that he can be followed…on Twitter @MRHibbard.

Photo by Matthew Hibbard

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4 Responses to “Columbia has its boxes checked”

  1. Score Board

    Nebraska now officially Big Ten member (AP)…

    I found your entry interesting to I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)


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