Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bethesda, Maryland is America's #17 "Coolest" City (???) // FORBES RANKINGS: #1 Houston, #2 DC, #10 NY, #14 Baltimore

UPDATE: Just Up the Pike blogger Dan Reed correctly points out in the comments that the areas used to calculate restaurant densities and other factors are not just the city boundaries. In reality, Forbes included the neighboring major metropolitan areas (aka Metropolitan Statistical Areas). For example, Forbes describes the areas measured for Washington, Baltimore and Bethesda as follows:
  • Bethesda = Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, MD
  • Baltimore = Baltimore-Towson, MD
  • Washington = Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

FORBES RANKS AMERICA'S "COOLEST" CITIES: Forbes magazine recently ranked America's major cities to determine the "coolest" places to live in the United States. Their results have generated a decent amount of discussion, given that Houston, Texas ranks as America's #1 "coolest" city. But even more interesting is that Bethesda, Maryland made the list at #17.

Maryland Juice grew up in Bethesda and will soon comment further on this development. But for now, it is worth noting that the Montgomery County community beat out Denver (#20), Austin (#19), and Minneapolis (#18). In fact, the rest of the top twenty coolest cities are obvious in some way (see top 20 rankings below):
1. Houston, TX
2. Washington, DC
3. Los Angeles, CA
4. Dallas, TX
5. Seattle, WA
5. San Diego, CA
7. Boston, MA
8. Orange County, CA
9. San Francisco, CA
10. New York, NY
11. San Antonio, TX
12. Chicago, IL
13. Fort Worth, TX
14. Baltimore, MD
15. Philadelphia, PA
16. Oakland, CA
17. Bethesda, MD
18. Minneapolis, MN
19. Austin, TX
20. Denver, CO

METHODOLOGY: Before you go ranting about how ridiculous these results are, you should look at the methodology of the study. Obviously, any ranking of something subjective like "coolness" will be disputed by someone, but here are the factors Forbes considered:
1.  recreational opportunities (including green space & outdoor activities)
2. number of sports teams
3. density of non-chain restaurants and bars
4. diversity
5. median age
6. net migration
7. unemployment rates

Here are the Forbes snapshots for Washington, Baltimore and Bethesda:
#2. Washington, D.C.
Arts & Culture Index: 99
Recreation Index: 93
Diversity Index: 70.9
Number of Local Eats: 6,149
Median Age: 36
Unemployment: 5.4%
2011 Net Migration: 34,260 people

#14. Baltimore, MD
Arts & Culture Index: 96
Recreation Index: 98
Diversity Index: 57
Number of Local Eats: 4,451
Median Age: 38
Unemployment: 7.1%
2011 Net Migration: 4,610 people

#17. Bethesda, MD
Arts & Culture Index: 95
Recreation Index: 89
Diversity Index: 67.7
Number of Local Eats: 1,727
Median Age: 39
Unemployment: 5.2%
2011 Net Migration: 4,990 people


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