July 1, 2009
Monocle Writes Off American Cities, Again
The magazine publishes its annual list of the world’s most livable cities–and only one U.S. metropolis makes the cut.
I’m a sucker for best-of lists, so I always look forward to Monocle‘s annual ranking of the world’s top 25 most livable cities–and I’m always amused by how poorly American burgs fare in the editors’ estimation. Granted, Monocle’s target reader appears to be the sort of wealthy European jet-setter who favors Aspesi outerwear and has strong opinions on the virtues of Gstaad versus St. Moritz–in other words, not someone likely to be lured by the discreet charms of Des Moines. Still, the magazine seems to take special pride in ignoring the States. Last year was an exception–for the first time, three American cities made the cut: Honolulu (number 12), Minneapolis (19), and Portland, Oregon (25). This year, however, only Honolulu hangs in there, moving up one spot to number 11. Why Honolulu? It satisfies several of Monocle’s key criteria for livability: good public transit, plentiful annual sunshine, a balmy average temperature, bars open until the wee hours, and relatively few chain stores (only 16 Starbucks and zero Zara outlets!) It’s worth noting, however, that the editors care nothing of affordability–thus Hawaii’s “paradise tax,” which matches one of the highest costs of living in the country with middling wages, is a non-issue here.
For your kvetching pleasure, here’s the full list: