When Money magazine published its annual list of Best Places to Live and the No.1 Small City in the whole US of A turned up just miles away, I had to take a photo ride!
I waffle between ridiculing, deconstructing and ignoring these rankings. Bob Collins has already covered the preponderance of bland suburban settlements in this list under the category Surveys That Don't Mean Anything. He lives in Woodbury, and he asked only half seriously: What's Plymouth got that Woodbury doesn't?
The answer is available
on the site: Higher income, taxes, home values, math test scores and rates
of kids in public schools; lower job growth and reading test scores; worse
air quality, more libraries and movie theaters, fewer bars...
Wait. Why am I doing Collins' work for him? Let him demand the recount. This is about honoring the winner.
I regularly bike through No.1 Plymouth, Minnesota, and when I saw the magazine's ludicrously sanitized Ralph Lauren version of the good life in Plymouth, I also considered lampooning all of suburbia and the entire Money methodology.
But after 11 years or so in Golden Valley, I've mellowed on the 'burbs.
True, without real cities nearby, none of the top 10, except for Ft. Collins, Colorado, would amount to much. These places are seriously deficient in public spaces and lack any architectural distinction beyond the private home. If you are seeking a foodstuff, article of clothing, houseware or entertainment experience that is only available in your town, good luck.
Speaking of cultural life, Money cited the Hilde Performance Center and the Fire & Ice Festival as amenities, to which, as a next-door neighbor, I can only say, Wha-a-a-a?
I suspect Plymouth's biggest boost comes from simply being in Minnesota,
because of our state's higher than average incomes and below the median
cost of living. A relatively prosperous suburb like Plymouth scores a
$25k+ family purchasing power premium over the average for the Best
Plymouth residents seem to like the schools and not mind sitting next to a four-acre parking lot as they enjoy their Starbuck's. There's a mix of large and small employers representing a variety of industries. You can find plentiful open space, though it's challenging to find any sign of Plymouth's origins back to 1858.
For all its similarity to Anywheresville, Plymouth has plenty of good points. But if it's No. 1, that's too bad for America.
[As always, you can run the slide show manually by clicking for the control panel. Click the Picasa logo in the right corner or double-click the screen, and you can run the slide show larger from the Picasa site.]