Building a More Meaningful 'Best Cities' List

While we're sure the ever-popular "Best City" lists serve some nebulous purpose, a new metric seeks to identify and evaluate America's metro areas by a more comprehensive understanding of how well they're achieving "complete communities."

This may not be the be-all and end-all of best city lists, but a new study out this week from the nonprofit Reconnecting America, seeks a more comprehensive method of evaluating and comparing America's metro areas in terms of their progress toward "more equitable, affordable, sustainable, and walkable communities," writes Richard Florida. 

So what are "complete communities"? According to the report, "Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America," the elements that "support economic opportunity and health for all people," include: "a quality education, access to good jobs, an affordable roof over our heads, access to affordable healthy food and health services, the ability to enjoy artistic, spiritual and cultural amenities, access to recreation and parks, meaningful civic engagement, and affordable transportation choices that get us where we need to go."

Complete communities, they write, are "places where people can live, work, move, and thrive in a healthier, more equitable, and more economically competitive way."

So, let's get to the good stuff. What are America's most complete communities? Of the metro areas with more than 3 million people, New York and San Francisco lead the pack. Of the metros under this size, Honolulu, San Jose, Denver, Portland, Oregon; Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey; Lincoln, Nebraska; Missoula, Montana; and Spokane, Washington all fared well. 

Full Story: The Ingredients of 'Complete Communities'

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