June 27, 2008
America’s Most Livable Cities
And the winners are…
And the winners are . . . Honolulu, Minneapolis, and Portland.
When Monocle published its list of the top 20 most livable cities last year, only one American metropolis made the cut: Honolulu, Hawaii (which, let’s be honest, barely qualifies as an American city.) Now the magazine has released its second-annual ranking—expanded to 25 cities—and added two from the U.S. mainland: Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon. Surprised?
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Obviously these are not the nation’s most exciting, glamorous, or culturally plugged-in destinations. (Although Portland is apparently America’s indie-rock mecca, the beer capital of the world, and a magnetic lure to talented chefs.) Indeed, Monocle’s editors favor places that put residents’ happiness and well-being first. In addition to crime, education, and health care, key criteria include green space, public transportation, accessible airports, and even the average amount of sunshine.
Culture is taken into account, too: cities get extra points for having innovative architecture, numerous cinemas (Honolulu has seven in the city center), and quality local media. And, refreshingly, tolerance is one of their top considerations. (Here, Minneapolis surprises: minorities make up one-third of the population.)
Yet the Monocle list is still subjective enough to produce the “misery of indignation” that makes arguing about best-of lists so much fun. In the spirit of outraged bickering, then, here’s the complete ranking: