Monday, March 10, 2014
By Ray Routhier firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the lists, and you'll see how great Portland is.
Commercial Street reflects some of Portland’s strengths that land it on best-of lists: friendly to the arts, entrepreneurs, business and families.
2011 Staff File Photo/Jill Brady
Staff Photo Illustration/Michael Fisher and Brian Robitaille
CITY LIKES DOGS, FOOD, ENTREPRENEURS ...
SOME "BEST PLACE" LISTS to which Portland has been named since 1999:
• Kiplinger's Personal Finance -- Best City in the U.S. for Second Acts, 2012
• Parenting Magazine -- Third Best City in the U.S. for Families, 2012
• Travel + Leisure -- Seventh-Greenest City, 2012
• GoLocal -- Top 10 for New England's Best Cities, 2012
• Forbes.com -- Top 10 for Job Prospects, 2012
• RelocateAmerica -- Top 100 Places to Live in United States, 2010
• Portfolio.com -- Top 10 for Small Business Vitality, 2010
• Bon Appetit -- America's Foodiest Small Town, 2009
• Forbes.com -- America's Most Livable City, 2009
• American Planning Association -- Commercial Street named a Great Place in America, 2008
• US News and World Report -- Top Ten Places to Retire, 2007
• Organic Gardening Magazine -- Top Green City (under 150,000), 2007
• DogFriendly.com -- Top Vacation Resort Area for People with Dogs, 2007
• Business Week -- Best Places to Raise Kids, 2007
• Kiplinger's Personal Finance -- Best Cities for Mid-Level Professionals, 2007
• Self Magazine -- Healthiest Cities for Women, 2006
• INC. Magazine -- Boom Town List of Hottest Cities for Entrepreneurs, 2006
• Forbes Magazine -- Top 50 Best Places for Business and Careers, 2006
• Milken Institute -- Top 100 Best Performing Cities, 2006
• Countryman Press -- "100 Best Art Towns in America" (book), 2005
• INC. Magazine -- Top U.S. Cities for Doing Business, 2005
• American City Business Journals -- Top Market in Small Business Vitality, 2005
• Milken Institute -- Best Performing Cities, 2004
• National Geographic Adventure Magazine -- 10 Great Adventure Towns, 2004
• INC. Magazine -- Top 25 Cities For Doing Business In America, 2004
• Travel Smart Consumer Newsletter -- No. 6 on the list of the "10 safest, culturally most fascinating U.S. cities," 2004
• Bike Town Magazine -- Bike Town U.S.A., 2004
• National Trust for Historic Preservation -- America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations, 2003
• Fine Living Cable Network -- 10 Perfect Places to Live in America, 2003
• Outside Magazine -- North America's 10 Dream Towns, 1999
Source: City of Portland
IS PORTLAND REALLY BEST?
WHILE PORTLAND often ranks near the top of some subjective, lifestyle-based lists of the best places to live, here are some hard numbers that help show what it's really like to live here:
RESIDENTS UNDER AGE 18: 11,329
MEDIAN RESIDENT AGE: 36.7 years
MEDIAN INCOME: $44,422
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES (ages 25 and older): 91.3 percent
BACHELOR'S DEGREE OR HIGHER (ages 25 and older): 43.2 percent
MEDIAN HOUSING VALUE (owner-occupied): $248,100
CRIME RATE: Down 15 percent over the past three years
UNEMPLOYMENT: 6.1 percent (as of May 2012)
Source: City of Portland
America's most livable city, proclaimed a list from Forbes.com. Third-best city for raising kids, cheered a list from Parenting magazine. Fifth-best city in the nation for hipsters, announced Travel + Leisure.
But wait -- some lists say Portland's not so great.
The city has the eighth worst-dressed population in America, according to Travel + Leisure, the same publication that tagged the city a hipster haven. And Men's Health magazine's list of 100 "Hotbeds of Sex" cities in 2010 had Portland dead last.
How can this be? Great place for hipsters and families, but worst place for fashion sense and sex?
"Apparently, the hipsters aren't having sex. Maybe they can't get out of their skinny jeans," said Chris Kast, a brand marketing strategist who works for The Brand Co. in Portland.
Portland has seemingly cornered the market on making best-city lists. The city of Portland's website lists 35 "best place" lists put out by magazines and websites that name Portland in the past 13 years. (Not surprisingly, the city doesn't keep track of the worst-place citations.)
But what it all means and what impact the lists really have are murky questions -- not the kind of questions easily answered in our Twitter-, soundbite- and list-driven society.
For the companies that compile the lists, however, the answer is fairly simple: Money. Lists are conducive to online slide shows, and slide shows drive Web traffic -- big time.
"People have always liked lists. They talk about them. That's why magazines have done them for years. But with the Internet, there are a lot more places to put these lists, and there's the ability to do slide shows, which definitely drive a lot of traffic," said Ellen Cannon, editorial director for QuinStreet Financial Services websites, including MoneyRates.com, Insurance.com, and CarInsurance.com.
"One of the largest sites we work with is MSN, and their top (page views) are always for slide shows," Cannon said.
ON EVERY CONCEIVABLE LIST
To get a sense of how great Portland does on magazine and website lists -- and how abundant and diverse these lists are -- let's simply list some of the lists:
• "America's Foodiest Small Town": Bon Appetit, August 2009
• "America's Most Livable City": Forbes.com, April 2009
• "Top Vacation Resort Area for People with Dogs": DogFriendly.com, 2007
• Top 12 "surprising, thriving, and emerging world travel destinations": Frommer's Travel Guides, 2007
• Top two "Best Cities for Mid-Level Professionals": Kiplinger's' Personal Finance, June 2007
• One of the top 10 "Perfect Places to Live in America": Fine Living Cable Network, 2003
Portland has also made best-place lists for being green, for art, for women's health, for small business vitality, for biking, for programs for low-income and homeless people, for historic properties, for safety and for access to local products.
So far in 2012, Portland's list accolades (or disses) include the hipster and worst-dressed lists mentioned above. Most recently, the city was named by Kiplinger's in July as the best city for "second acts," which basically means adults with grown children looking for a change.
(But those same adults probably shouldn't retire in Portland, given that MoneyRates.com last year ranked Maine as the worst state to retire to, mostly because of weather, taxes and other economic factors.)
Do the lists really mean that Portland is so great (or so bad) in the various categories? Will people who are looking for a better life, a better vacation or a better job, for example, just flip through the lists and decide to come to Portland?
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