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bradsp

Most Livable City Rankings

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Personally, I am not one to put weight behind rankings because they seem to not consider my new urban values but instead pander to trendy coastal cities which comparatively offer me nothing. I have lived in the so called top most livable cities in a pioneering capacity and I purposely moved to Pittsburgh while chasing the ideals that made me reject Boston and move to Providence three years ago.

Apparently, these rankings are typically from the Rand McNally

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San Jose / Sunnyvale?! They're nice enough places, but I certainly wouldn't have put it on any top 10 lists. And the traffic cops in Sunnyvale are Nazis, too.

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Any way we can get a completed list?

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My guess is you have to buy the book to get the full list.

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I never thought that DC was considered to be such a nice place.

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I never thought that DC was considered to be such a nice place.

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Places Rated is using the entire metro area(CBSA) as its city rankings. Suburban Virginia and Maryland are among the most affluent areas of the nation, the growth of the region is strong, employment is stable, and within the District are many cultural and recreational locations-The National Zoo, The Smithsonian, Capital Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument,etc, and strong educational facilities such as American University. The University of Maryland is in suburban College Park and Virginia has several state supported institutes-James Madison to name one. Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon, the Pentagon, Dulles International, and Ronald Reagan Airport are in Virginia. Prince Georges County, MD is the most affluent predominately African-American suburban area in the nation and home to Andrews Air Force Base. The metro transit system is among the most modern public transportation systems in the nation and is being expanded. The city has experienced its first increase in population since the late 40's during this decade. The region was never dependent on manufacturing or distribution, so it never had the employment declines of nearby Rustbelt cities.

Of course the negatives are there, traffic is horrible, the region is sprawling, the summers are hot and humid and very southern-like with cold winters, two extremes that hurt St. Louis in its rankings. Cost of living is very high here, comparable to Boston, New York and San Francisco, and has some of the most expensive real estate markets in the US. It's a region with many problems of the booming Sunbelt cities as well as those of the older Eastern and Rustbelt cities. Washington,DC itself still has a fairly high crime rate, though it has dropped and local government corruption in the District is still a concern, but not as bad as perceived.

As the nation's capital, Washington doesn't always present the "best face" due to its problems, but it is a booming region and overall well rounded.

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I can't believe Rochester made the list. I was born and raised there until about 5 years ago. The economy is one of the worst in the nation. Before the NAFTA/GATT fiasco of the early nineties, it had a predominately manufacturig base. Kodakfor instance, in the early eighties, had around 70,000 local employees. They now have less than 15,000. GM, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, and countless other smaller companies have essentially gone to China and Mexico and left a horrible trick down effect that is going to turn this town into the next Flint or Detroit. Add to that some of the highest tax rates in the nation, an average of 90 inches of snow a year, and blantantly corrupt local politicians and it would rank on one of my worst lists. The area is highly educated and it also has an incredible natural beauty to it, but the negatives far outweigh the positives and you couldn't pay me to move back.

And Pittsburgh #1? If Pittsburgh is so great, how come the entire metro area has been steadily losing population for the last 20 years?

I think the only credible cities on the list for "best" places would be Portland and Madison.

I don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut, but it seems like the makers of this book received some compensation for their rankings.

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And Pittsburgh #1? If Pittsburgh is so great, how come the entire metro area has been steadily losing population for the last 20 years?

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Actually there is an answer for that. Pittsburgh suffered very tough times economically back in the 80's, at which point a lot of people left. But since then, the city has improved considerably. People are no longer leaving (the city actually retains people better than most), but the population continues to slowly shrink due to deaths outpacing births. This is an after-effect of the genuine population loss in the 80's, which left the city with an unusually high proportion of elderly people.

Also, if you just look at the city proper, it's gaining young people.

So basically, Pittsburgh's population numbers are kind of misleading. It's a really nice place to live, if you ask me.

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Population growth would be a minor factor, thus the inclusion of Pittsburgh and Rochester. Of course negative growth and slow growth do have some positives. Traffic jams would not be as bad, housing prices would be more reasonable, a decrease in pollution would occur, the infrastructure would still be in place, though it may suffer from deterioration, many cultural and educational facilities would be in place with a strong local endowment available, and medical care remains intact. Low growth can have a negative impact on property and sales taxes which provide the governments with revenue. Low growth is generally due to lack of job creation or new jobs not being created as fast as old jobs disappear, which seems to be the case with Pittsburgh, declining blue collar employment and rising white collar employment. Rochester seems to be heading in the same direction. I'm not as familiar with Rochester as I am with Pittsburgh, knowing Rochester best for Eastman Kodak.

Pittsburgh has a strong cultural, educational, and medical infrastructure. Heavy industry created the Carnegie fortune which endows Carnegie-Mellon. Pittsburgh is a major sports entertainment venue, the Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates are strongly supported by the locals as well as former residents. It is the center of a major trade area for most of Western Pennsylvania, northwestern West Virginia, and parts of nearby Ohio. Despite the declines, it is still a major metro.

Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, OR, and San Jose seem to be perennially ranked high in this book. Boston has the most extreme weather of these regions, along with Washington, Baltimore and Madison. Philadelphia and Baltimore seem to be the token underdog cities in this ranking. Madison is the small city, being both a state capital and university town with some strong growth in employment and population.

Sunbelt boom cities seem to have fallen out of favor, thus Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and others rank lower in each subsequent edition. Granted these cities have been victims of their success. Sprawl, horrible traffic, cookie-cutter suburbs, suburban blight, growth exceeding the capacity of the infrastructure and development friendly governments. Summer weather seems to be a negative form Sunbelt cities that wasn't as negatively weighed in earlier editions. The Southeast and Midwest seem to suffer the most in weather rankings. Summer humidity in the South, with the Midwest following closely plus having the extreme winter weather. Otherwise Minneapolis-St. Paul should be the highest ranked Midwestern metro. A large number of Sunbelt cities are accused of following the Los Angeles blueprint for automobile oriented growth more than L.A. has.

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nice acquittals of pittsburgh in those last two posts. never having been, i'm eager to go. it seems like a very...'real'...place, one that exists for residents first and outsiders second...i love places like that, where lifers choose to stay because they see something outsiders don't, and identify strongly with their city.

my hometown gets a lot of comparisons with pittsburgh, and i have never been under the impression that that was a bad thing - although i'm aware of the stigmas that historically blue-collar / industrial towns carry with some knuckle-draggers. i think the confluence of the rivers is such a fantastic setting for a city (though i've no clue how well pittsburgh has exploited that setting in terms of planning).

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"Most liberal: Yuma, Arizona"

Is this a joke?

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^ - dude...no way. i need to read through these articles and catch gems like this. most liberal dress code at golf-themed retirement homes, maybe.

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The Monongahela River and Allegheny River merge in downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. The downtown is called the Golden Triangle and has a modern skyline, while the surrounding city still has a strong blue collar look and feel. The mountains surrounding the city and the hills of the city are attractive backdrops. As I previously posted, Pittsburgh is a good city if you have gainful employment and enjoy winter weather, with a low cost of living compared to most other cities in the Rustbelt.

As for Yuma, AZ, is it liberal due to being separated from California by the Colorado River? Otherwise I cannot fathom why Yuma would be the most liberal. I would expect a small university town, no larger than Boulder, Co, which I think all here would agree to be a liberal city, or a large west coast or east coast metropolis, NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, etc would all be unexpected. Maybe even a controled, highly zoned resort, such as Aspen, Vail or Sun Valley, but not Yuma. Is Lake Havasu City the next most liberal? Even California retirement towns, Palm Springs and Hemet have a conservative nature compared to the rest of California.

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Nonetheless, despite the improvements occurring in Pittsburgh in the past few decades (yet there are very few US cities that are not improving in their inner-core), I have to bug some of you all. With the generally consistently high rankings since the 1980's in livability factors - why hasn't Pittsburgh profited any further? Not many cities, except for Raleigh, Portland, Austin, Madison or other college towns, has received as much positive rankings regarding it's livability or resurgence. I certainly mean no disrespect to the city, but it is puzzling if you were to assume the livability rankings had some positive influence on people's decisions regarding where to move for a home or business.

Which leads to a cynical possibility, livability rankings - though partially based on statistics - have very little effect on people. Which shouldn't be a surprise.

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....

Which leads to a cynical possibility, livability rankings - though partially based on statistics - have very little effect on people. Which shouldn't be a surprise.

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I tend to distrust the places rated people. Their standards change year after year. Their catagories change year after year. Their basis for comparison changes year after, and not to mention, the data they present for a current year, tends to be two to five years behind. When the 04 book came out, It showed Grand Rapids Michigans economy as a plus, saying it was hot and on an upward trend. That was the height of it's economic downturn. When in fact the economy hadn't been hot since about 99 - 00'. I still have never been able to figure out why one year a metro area can be ranked number one, and then the next year it would be at the bottom of the middle. Does something change that much over the course of a year, to make a city drop 160 spots in the rankings? There is nothing official about it, there is nothing scientific about it. It serves little more than entertainment. I have to admit to being excited to see where my pet cities ranked, then my nose always wrinkles as I say "what the"..... and try to figure out how they determined half the crap they had. When they had missed so much.

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Nonetheless, despite the improvements occurring in Pittsburgh in the past few decades (yet there are very few US cities that are not improving in their inner-core), I have to bug some of you all. With the generally consistently high rankings since the 1980's in livability factors - why hasn't Pittsburgh profited any further? Not many cities, except for Raleigh, Portland, Austin, Madison or other college towns, has received as much positive rankings regarding it's livability or resurgence. I certainly mean no disrespect to the city, but it is puzzling if you were to assume the livability rankings had some positive influence on people's decisions regarding where to move for a home or business.

Which leads to a cynical possibility, livability rankings - though partially based on statistics - have very little effect on people. Which shouldn't be a surprise.

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