How Can D.C. be the Coolest City in America if Everyone Hates Hipsters So Much?

In which parking minimums figure heavily in a polemic regarding the nature of cool.
Keith Allison / Flickr

Jordan Fraade follows up on the recent (perpetual is more like it) proliferation of city rankings, such as "Most influential," "Strongest brand," and Most livable," with a post responding to the "America's coolest cities list" published by Forbes. Fraade's problem with the list, in fact, revolves around one of demography's favorite subjects, the urban hipster, as well as two of planning's favorite subjects, bike lanes and parking minimums.

The list selected Washington D.C. as its coolest-of-the-cool cities. Although Fraade acknowledges that the nation's capital is worthy winner, he also notes the trouble with the list. "The problem with a 'coolest city' ranking is the way it takes things any city ought to be proud of – diversity, urbanity, art, energy, walkability, transit accessibility – and attaches them to a polarising sociological identity. Most Americans probably don’t have strong opinions about multimodal transit, or bicycle infrastructure. But they do have strong feelings about snobbish urban hipsters."

In fact, writes Fraade, "DC shines so bright in Forbes’ eyes that it appears to have blinded the magazine to the fact that a local backlash against 'cool kids' is under way." 

As evidence of the backlash Fraade discusses Washington D.C.'s last minute retreat from reforms to minimum parking requirements when the city recently rewrote its zoning code. Additionally, the work of anti-bike columnist Courtland Milloy is cited as evidence of the general public's general distaste for all things hipster, even when those things are bike lanes with multiple and quantifiable benefits. 

Full Story: The big problem with 'coolest city' lists

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