Monday, January 7, 2013

The Bayou City Tops America's Coolest Places to Live

Banner year, fellow Houstonians.  And that includes the 50,000 of you who joined us in 2012.  Not only did Forbes give Houston kudos for being the little-economic-engine-that-could, see here, and for being a great place for female business founders, we also topped its list of Coolest American Cities.  Wow, Texas in general did well on this list, with five spots in the top 20.


To reach this zenith, we scored well in all categories:  entertainment options, recreational options (including green space), restaurants and bars per capita (emphasizing local eateries), diversity, median age, employment rate, cost of living, and net migration.

It took all of a nano-second for the doubters and haters to chime in.  "Yeah. that's right. Houston is number one.  Surprise is always refreshing. . . .  Jobs are definitely cool.  But Houston, Washington, and Los Angeles?  Something in [Forbes's] rubric must be missing."  (Rachel James at smartplanet)  "Houston is not cool."  (Will Doig at Salon).  "Houston is America's coolest city, according to a bunch of nerds."  (some dude in Brooklyn).  No surprise with Dallas's take: "Forbes rates Dallas fourth coolest city; loses all credibility by putting Houston first. . . .  They apparently didn't see our even more scientific assessment ranked Houston asshole of the universe."  (Dallas Observer blogger who probably really lives in Grand Prairie).  Fort Worth just called us fat.

Over at the Austin Statesman's blog, they got a little huffy:  "Say what?  Houston, not Austin, is America's coolest city. . . .  Houston, widely considered--right or wrong--to be a sprawling, paved-over wasteland, ended up with a 94."  (That's our score for recreational amenities, compared to Austin's 48.)  Now, I love Austin--everyone in Texas does--but it was hard hit by the drought this last year.  Lake Travis has been more like Pond Travis.  Plus, there are too many people in Austin now, and it's killing the cool, keep-Austin-weird vibe.  My jog around Town Lake this summer was like running with a stampede up the Goodnight-Loving--so many people, the dirt was stomped into hardpack.  They've got traffic lights and school zones all the way out to Bee Caves, and all the way up to Pflugerville, and almost all the way down to Fredericksburg.  They shouldn't snicker about Houston's asphalt, not when their sprawl is passing us by, and they already don't have the water to support it (not even in a good year).

Now, I realize this Cool List came out mid-year.  It's old news.  But Texquiem didn't exist then, and I'm still clinging to 2012.  Plus, all the news outlets topple into the new year with a retrospective or "best of" the old. This list churned through the news cycle this past week, so I'm adding it here, too.

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