What Makes A City The ‘Best’?

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What makes a good place to live in America today? We’ll talk with the people who size up our cities and towns.

Duluth, Minnesota's Canal Park Lakewalk, shown here in 2005. (Jacob Norlund / Creative Commons)
Duluth, Minnesota's Canal Park Lakewalk, shown here in 2005. (Jacob Norlund / Creative Commons)

We all see the lists.  Best Place to Live in America!  Best for families.  Best for foodies.  Best for bicyclers.  Best for young people.  Best for retirees.  Best for hikers, mountain-climbers, windsurfers, snowshoers, bargain-hunters.  Maybe you’re happy right where you are.  Maybe you daydream about making a move.  Where to?  And how do they make those lists?  Are they just gimmicks? Are they good guides?  What makes a best place to live these days, anyway?  This hour On Point:  the lists of best places to live in America, and what they tell us.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Jonah Ogles, associate editor at Outside Magazine. (@jonahogles)

Matt Carmichael, editor, (@mcarmichael)

Emily Badger, urban policy reporter for the Washington Post. (@emilymbadger)

Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, MN. (@Ness_Duluth)

[Editor's Note: We spoke to Mayor Ness last year for an earlier feature on mayors]

From Tom's Reading List

Outside Magazine: The 16 Greatest Places to Live in America -- "To develop our own Outside Score, we tapped a rocket scientist (seriously) to combine factors like number of outfitters, miles of trails, and number of bike shops—plus considerations like unemployment rates, median incomes, and, yes, an editors’-choice variable—into a single mathematical formula. The resulting O-Score is intended to summarize just how livable a place is, even if that differs from how readers voted. "

Livability: 100 Best Places To Live — "As Livability’s editors and writers crisscross the U.S in search of great stories, we find that time and again, the best tales are told in the Main Street diners, corner churches, park benches and even the mayor’s offices of small to mid-sized cites and towns. Far from letting time pass them by, these communities are doubling down on livability for their residents. Our second-annual ranking of the Top 100 Best Places to Live celebrates the work they are doing."

Washington Post: How the ‘creative class’ is dividing U.S. cities — "The housing options of the disadvantaged are invariably defined by what's left over. If the wealthy want to live on the waterfront, the poor are driven inland. If high-paid professionals want to live close to the subway — picture the popular orange-line corridor in Arlington — then low-paid cashiers are pushed farther from transit. If upper-class college graduates want to live downtown, as is increasingly the case in many big cities, the poor are priced out to the periphery."

See Our Combined List Of Best Place To Live Lists

This program aired on October 2, 2014.


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