US Inner City vs European City Center
Americans and Europeans tend to think of two very different things when the term "inner city" comes up. Americans think of it as a crime ridden, dangerous, ghetto encircled place that should be avoided for the most part between 6 PM and 7 AM except for a few bars or higher end restaurants. Europeans see inner cities as the most vibrant, exciting, historical, pedestrian friendly, cultural and important areas of their cities.
American city centers are usually where the skyscraper office buildings are that are only inhabited during work hours. After everyone goes home from work the inner cities are empty save for the unsavory characters who wander in from the run down areas just outside of the glass and concrete towers. Crime, drug addiction, danger, and closed doors are what American inner cities bring to mind. Of course some cities are trying to revive their inner cities with high end shopping, entertainment and apartment buildings, but one cannot help but feel a certain vacant feeling in big US cities between the evening and morning rush hours and the work day. The whole inner city has become a place to work and then leave for the night, like an actual office.
European inner cities, on the other hand, are busy almost 24/7, being the centers of not just business, but of the arts, entertainment, shopping, strolling, cafes, bars, discos, operas, museums, historical buildings etc. European city centers are where the cities have their oldest and most important buildings because the cities grew outwards from this central core. Skyscrapers in European cities are not found in the historic cores of cities but on the outskirts or in the suburbs. Many European cities do not allow buildings over a certain height to be built in their centers in order to maintain the historic feel. This is why European cities are more people friendly and built on a human scale. Different intersections, blocks, and corners are easily differentiated because of unique buildings, while in the US all skyscrapers and blocks and intersections look almost identical for people on the ground. You are surrounded by a literal wall of buildings that leaves you feel small, disorientated and not very welcome. This is why so many Americans find European cities so interesting, and why many Europeans are overwhelmed by American skyscrapers and how identical all cities look.
Seeing a panorama picture of two European cities, it is quite easy to see the different and unique landmarks. A random panorama of two different American cities would leave many Americans in the dark as to what cities they actually are because of the mass of tall, almost identical buildings, not to mention a European.
These differences are what make Europeans and Americans mutually interested in visiting each others cities. Europeans cities have started to copy America by building skyscrapers in the suburbs, whilst America has started to copy European cities in suburban outdoor shopping centers which have little streets, outdoor areas, parks, cafes and so on, giving them the feel of tint European style cities.