Ranking American Cities

By Tanya Silverman

Indianapolis on July 4. Photo courtesy of Roberto Santiago Rodriguez.

The most American of the American cities is now determined for 2015: Indianapolis, Indiana.

WalletHub, a personal finance social network, measured 381 of the largest American metropolitan areas using metrics like gender, age, income, housing tenure, and household makeup. Coming just behind Indianapolis on the red, white, and blue scale was Cincinnati, OH, followed by Charleston, SC, Nashville, TN, and then Jacksonville, FL.

Apparently Indianapolis has amplified its national character. Last year, Nashville came in as number one on WalletHub’s most American survey.

New York City is America’s largest city, population-wise. However, its overall rank in resembling the remainder of the country is 196. The overall score comes as no surprise to me, as I often describe NYC as an outlier of the greater US experience, in terms of noticeable population density, public transit infrastructure, and immigration influxes–plus the fact that it’s always transforming.

Breaking it down to thematic surveys, the racial makeup of Connecticut’s Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area is closest to the US reference value. The most average American wealth gap is exhibited in Bowling Green, KY; the least average rank is that of Gainesville, FL.

In case you were shopping for a house with the intent of paying the most median price on the real estate market, you should search around New Orleans, LA–but avoid the San Francisco Bay Area.

So where can people find the most un-American parts of the country? They can head to southern Texas and stop by places like McAllen or Brownsville, or to Florida to find a city that’s named The Villages.

What’s the benefit of knowing how averagely American or un-American an American city is? According to WalletHub, parents might want to find out where to go to raise their children in diverse environments. These statistics could be handy to entrepreneurs researching where to plant their business ideas. Marketers can test products in particular American localities and use the results to speculate on how they would apply to a national level.

The survey of American averageness isn’t the only list that’s been released about this country’s cities as of late. For instance, the makers of Honeywell Fans measured the sweatiest cities in the US by assessing factors like housing density, wind speed, humidity levels, and population levels.

Florida seems to win the perspiration prize for this one, as Tampa and Miami topped the list. Houston, TX, and San Diego, CA, were up there–though I’m slightly surprised by the latter because my San Diego friends recently visited me in NYC and constantly complained about the sultry atmosphere. The northernmost place on the list is Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of mararie.

What else have statisticians surveyed? Well, they’ve crunched numbers about lots of important factors for our lives, including the cities best suited for cats. According to the Movoto Real Estate Blog, the feline-friendly designation goes to Tucson, AZ, because of its pet stores per capita, vets per capita, traffic score, frequency of sunny days, and occurrence of cat events.

The Pacific Northwest urban areas are apparently perfect for owning cats, dogs, and rabbits, as Portland and Seattle come highest on a 2013 study by Credit Donkey. But pet owners who crave the full American experience should have no fears. Indianapolis is number 12 on this list.

In terms of entertainment, Thrillist published an “indisputable ranking” of America’s best cities for live music, judging places by historic venues, local acts, and happening festivals. Austin, TX came in first place, for hosting famous annual events like SxSW and being home to local venues like Donn’s Depot. Number two is NYC largely because of its legacy array of historic talents–Velvet Underground, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, etc.–plus its venues of all sizes. Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis are all notable live music locations as well.

Most miserable city in the US is a recurrent survey. Last December, MarketWatch determined the worst metro area to be Huntington, West Virginia, since its inhabitants were likely to report conditions of chronic pain, diabetes, or cancer. Obesity and depression are also rampant.

Gallup gave the most miserable designation of 2015 to the Youngstown metro area around Ohio and Pennsylvania. Households suffered from earning low incomes, facing increased unemployment, and below-average rates of college education. In addition, nearly a third of the population is obese. Ohio apparently isn’t a happy state; four of its cities ended up in Gallup’s top-10 miserable rankings.

The beach in Sarasota. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

So that’s not very uplifting. Where do we go to smile, number crunchers? Gallup says Sarasota, FL, or urban Honolulu. A number of Texas and California areas received high rankings, too, so that’s unsurprising since they’re the two most populated states in the country.

Of course, data has its significance, but the ways in which inhabitants or visitors choose to live, work, enjoy, watch music, or raise their cats in American cities is dependent on their personal taste and experience.