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The new hipster cities of America: Who's emerging as the "next Austin"?

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Austin Photo Set: News_Lauren_new hipster cities_feb 2012_detroit
Hipsters sitting on a Detroit stoop. Photo by Westpress Courtesy of Westpress
Austin Photo Set: News_Lauren_new hipster cities_feb 2012_ashville
Musicians in downtown Asheville Photo by Kathy McHenry
Austin Photo Set: News_Lauren_new hipster cities_feb 2012_detroit
Austin Photo Set: News_Lauren_new hipster cities_feb 2012_ashville
Austin Photo Set: News_Lauren_new hipster cities_feb 2012_chattanooga
Austin Photo: Author_Lauren Modery

Sometimes it feels like there is no place more hipster-plentiful than Austin, Texas. The city has become the poster child of what young creatives and entrepreneurs are discharging into this world. When you look up the word 'Austin' in the thesaurus, the words, 'old-timey facial hair,' 'your grandmother's eyewear,' 'college degree in food carting,' 'bee hive hoarding' and 'Which Wich eating' appear. It's true that there is no escaping the fauxhemian gorilla-whale that is running amok in our city.

But are other cities unscathed by the beast? Smaller, up-and-coming cities that are like how Austin was before 'we' showed up? Cities that hipsters can flock to now that other, older hipsters have crimped their style of being on the forefront of a burgeoning scene? The answer is yes.

  Are other cities unscathed by the beast? Smaller, up-and-coming cities that are like how Austin was before 'we' showed up?

Forget Austin, forget Brooklyn, forget Portland, forget Silver Lake. What are the cities on the verge of hipsterfication right now?

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga has been wooing the panties off the popular urbanite mag, GOOD Magazine, with tales of their new city-wide typeface and 'super green' VW plant. According to the online magazine, the city's new font, Chatype, was born from the coffee shop meeting of a brand consultant and typeface designer. The duo brainstormed about what it would be like for Chattanooga to be the most conceptually awesome city in America and — poof — Chatype was born.

GOOD also commended VW's new Chattanooga plant that turns paint waste into cement instead heading into landfills. To add to Chattanooga's green-like behavior, the city implemented human-race-eliminating 'smart lights' — LED streetlights that can respond to different environments and situations. These streetlights are controlled by the city's new fiber optic high-speed Internet that is also helping lure fleets of businesses and nerdies into this scenic Tennessee town. In addition to showing America it's the baddest mo-fo city around, Chattanooga was named one of NY Times 45 Places to Visit in the United States, along with its sister city, Space. 

Asheville, North Carolina

Like Austin, Asheville is a live music Mecca featuring troves of young white men dressing like their grandfathers. But instead of finding collections of synths and keystars strewn across the land, Asheville musicians find themselves drowning in a sea of mandolins and banjos. One can often hear hipsters comparing who has the largest upright bass in coffee shops. There is always Nashville, New Orleans or Austin, but the inexpensive bluegrass capital of the world has slowly been earning its place as the Southeast's hipster hangout.

This town of only 82,000 has been a popular go-to place for performers such as Cat Power, M. Ward, The Mountain Goats, Broken Social Scene, The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses, with the latter two having recorded albums here. And if Asheville doesn't do the trick, you can always make the 5 hour+ drive down to Wilmington to search for an ear in a field and reenact your very own Blue Velvet.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington has been known as a hippie city for a long time (Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream + Phish = Phish Food), but now that behaviors of both the hippie and hipster classes have begun overlapping, it's fair to say that this progressive city has been hipsterfied. With a population of only 42,000 people, Burlington exemplifies all the big city hipster traits in one tiny bubble — American Apparel, locally-sourced restaurants, local brew pubs, art galleries, old timey theater, delightful dive bars and, at one point, Occupy Burlington, can all be found within a few blocks of one another other.

When the hip aren't chowing down at the city's famed Farmer's Market or locally-sourced restaurants such as American Flatbread, they're hanging out at clubs and dive bars that will make you feel like you're in East Village circa 1978. Of course they get to these places via the city's popular taxi cab service, Green Cab, which boasts an all-Prius fleet. Vermont can also proudly claim the country's second ever Cartoonist Laureate with comic artist and Burlington native, James Kochalka.

Detroit, Michigan

What do young and creative urbanites love most in this world? Being on the forefront of a scene — what better place to do that than Detroit, Michigan, a city that's slowly bootstrapping itself up from the PITS OF HADES. Within cities that have lost everything, hipsters favorite second thing in this world emerges — ruin porn. Add a frosting layer of adaptive reuse and you got yourself one sweet hipster cupcake.

This city has become a newspaper darling with stories of young artists, thinkers and entrepreneurs taking advantage of Detroit's low cost of living and real estate. The NY Times compares Detroit's rebirth (more like slow expulsion from the womb) to Berlin's rise and fall (and rise again) in the 1990s, and the LA Times insinuates that if up-and-coming artists want to be seen, Detroit is where it's at. Artists have been taking over abandoned warehouse spaces or homes and building them into studios or public art pieces — Detroit is the place to go if you're looking for street cred you really don't deserve.

Runners-Up

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Along the same lines as Detroit, Pittsburgh has also seen a renaissance with young entrepreneurs and artists in the past several years. In 2010, Forbes named the Steel City the number one most livable city in America due to it's attractive combo of low unemployment, low cost of living and high art and leisure ranking.

Baltimore, Maryland

It's no secret that this Chesapeake Bay city pumps out the hipster muses. Baltimore is the proud birthplace of John Waters, Ira Glass, Frank Zappa, David Byrne (grew up here) and The Wire. It also has that big deal industry city-turnerd bad economy/high crime rate scary place-turned artist haven thing going on (like Detroit and Pittsburgh) that young people love so much.

Richmond, Virginia

The Rumpus named Richmond one of the most inhabitable hipster cities for post-graduates (and it seems like every indie band I meet is from here).

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Check out The Hipstercrite update on this story and find out which city won the Best New Hipster City in a nationwide and completely unscientific poll.

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