I found this incredible photo of Madison on Wikipedia. I seriously think Madison, Wisconsin is one of the most unique cities in the United States. Wedged between two enormous lakes, Madison is a densly populated yet very-small city that seems to balance an eclectic amount of culture within a conservative farming state (even if they went for Obama!). The people there are so diverse, and the University is one of the highest performers in the amount of research in this country. (UW-Madison is my second pick for grad school). State Street is a long pedestrian-only street packed with restaurants, shops and bars. It's so strange to me that a metro area with around half-a-million people can still function so well and be so peculiar!
Madison was designed by the legendary Urban Planner John Nolen. The man seemed to be everywhere in his life, and I can't think of a single planning class I have taken where his name has not come up.
Anyway, enjoy the photo.