These rankings seem skewed to favor one city



Since when are the boroughs of New York City considered separate cities? Apparently, Forbes magazine believes they are synonymous even though they were consolidated to form the current city boundary in 1898. In its 2015 rankings of “the best cities for millennials right now,” the magazine included the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens separately in the rankings, plus a listing for New York City overall, as well.

To this planner and reader, such a ranking format is the equivalent of ranking Georgetown separate from Washington; Back Bay separate from Boston; Wicker Park separate from Chicago; or Nob Hill separate from San Francisco. Essentially, it skews the results to favor New York City over other cities across the country. Given that New York City got four separate listings, there are three other American cities that could have been included in the rankings, but were instead left out in the cold.

I have no problem with separate independent suburbs being included as they each have their own attributes, but ranking parts of a city (boroughs, neighborhoods, districts, etc) is not the same as ranking the city as a whole. Suburbs such as Jersey City, Alexandria, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara are among those incorporated into the list.

City rankings often get a wary eye from readers – with examples such as this, is it any wonder why? Am I wrong here? Please feel free to pass along your thoughts.

This entry was posted in cities, civics, culture, geography, government, history, Maps, North America, placemaking, planning, spatial design, Statistics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to These rankings seem skewed to favor one city

  1. I understand what you’re saying, but the equivalencies are not technically correct. Though the boroughs of New York City have been long consolidated into one City, they are still separate Counties. This is not the case with the neighborhoods you listed within other cities. This messes up Forbes’ classifications even more than it did. The only jurisdictional situation that comes even remotely close – very remotely, if you will – to New York is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is at once a County and a City. There might be others like Philly. If Forbes thought the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin were a great place for Millennials to live, it would be fun to note that it is also a County. I’m not aware that it contains any incorporated cities. I am not aware of any other City in the USA which contains a number of Counties in it. It does turn the hierarchy upside down: the way things were set up, a City in terms of land area and boundaries is supposed to be a proper subset of a County – not the other way around! Historically, Counties were drawn on the maps as relatively artificial, imposed divisions of jurisdiction into manageable areas for the functions they were assigned to perform; while Cities, once incorporated, have been allowed to grow “naturally” and overrun the imposed cartographic divisions. I agree that if Forbes was going to rank Cities as such, it should have stuck with the actual legal boundaries of the cities it ranked. On the other hand – a losing hand, by its own rules – Forbes probably sensed what many New Yorkers feel, that there is a psychological difference between one borough/County and the next. So I hear. I’ve never lived there.


  2. Motorvilleboy says:

    The seeming random and often contradictory way that such publications so frequently proclaim ‘the best place for X’ is good enough reason not to pay attention to them. Makes me happy in a perverse way as well that my hometown is virtually never on any best-of list.

    Liked by 1 person

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