The relationship between Hampstead to London would be considered a surburb to a city, in an American context. Its about six miles outside the city and primarily residential with only one street of shops. Its quiet at night and rich bankers own huge houses with traditional English gardens.

But England doesn’t really do suburbs; there’s a clear difference between the city and the country and not much in between. Every British person has told me that Hampstead is legitimately part of London, not just a metro London.

Part of this inclusion in the metropolis is its inclusion in the Tube line. Many tube lines extend far past central London, zone 1 into zone 7, 8 and 9. No matter how far out north these cities maybe, the tube makes it relatively accessible to visit.

Even though Hampstead is as far from London as Swarthmore might be, the tubes come back to Finchely Road from two stations every few minutes. Its available in terms of time, distance and affordability. We feel more isolated at Swarthmore because the trains run little more often than once an hour and its designed as a commuter vehicle, not a quick stop subway bullet like the tube. Finally, the train is a mode of transportation separate from the subway in the city, demarcating those who living within Philadelphia from those who live slightly outside it. Though the distance is little, the perception is great. I feel guilty when I tell Londoners that I am from Philadelphia and feel the need to moderate it with “no, the suburbs”.

(The Metropolitan is the only line with trains designed like commuter ones: the seats face each other in long benches and the trains are rickety.)

As Tina put it, London is a city made up of lots of small communities flowing one into another. Today, I went to Brick Lane which seems like the beginning of the area occupied primarily by Bangladeshi immigrants while two streets over is Bank street, called that because all the big banks are located there. Each community spills into one another and Hampstead is just one of those communities making up London, not an isolated area. And I like that.