By: Anthony Manrique

I was sitting in my Urban Planning class when our teacher asked us what we thought about Hamilton and its reputation as the Steel City. A classmate responded sarcastically with a rhetorical question, “Hamilton sucks?” At first, I shrugged, feeling indifferent to his statement, but I began to realize that he might have been too harsh on Hamilton.

I’ve visited different parts of the city and my experiences within it have been both saddening and uplifting. I remember walking from Confederation Park to Barton Street on the East End, passing by countless warehouses and factories and seeing rugged semi-trailers along the run-down road ongoing constant renovation. There I felt the rough, blue-collar, industrial feel of the Hammer.

This is how most people think of Hamilton, but that is just a small part of its identity. The year before, I decided to volunteer for the Hamilton Fringe Festival that was hosted in various theatres in downtown Hamilton, with most of the performances at night. Getting involved in the event gave me exposure to the arts and culture that this city has to offer, through the playful performances and poetic sense of humour of the local artists.

There’s also the recent Supercrawl, the first one I’ve ever been to, and it was even bigger and louder. Seeing Charles Bradley sing to a lively audience, local artists showcasing their art pieces in tents, and the massive crowds lining up along the food trucks was like a glimpse of what the colorful nightlife in this city looks like.

The juxtaposition of the cheerful, festive atmosphere of events such as the Fringe and Supercrawl against the derelict, run-down ambience of the Hammer almost feels like a surrealist painting. Through it all, the city manages to give a bit of wonder to the life and times of the people living in it. Most people would probably never notice it, but there it is, the real beauty of the city.

It’s strange that somehow, most of the people I know who don’t like the city are also the ones who always find ways to enjoy it. Often, I’m invited by my friends to come to Bayfront for some relaxation, or go skating at Hamilton Waterfront Trust, see a movie in Jackson Square, or just go for a walk at Lime Ridge. By the end of the day, we go home and talk about the experiences we had, and we’ll laugh about it in the days to come, and all of that happened here in this very city. Somehow, we managed to have a bit of fun despite how “boring” they say Hamilton is.

So, no, Hamilton does not “suck”. Hamilton is a beautiful city to live in and the number of people who are paying attention to all it has to offer is always growing. People are finally finding ways to enjoy Hamilton and are seeing the real beauty of living in the Steel City.