Is Houston the Coolest City in America?

Yes, according to Forbes' list of "America's Coolest Cities to Live."
Fri July 27, 2012 11:35 pm
Flickr | Ed Schipul

It may be 100 degrees, but Houston is the coolest city in America. Or so says  Forbes's list of "America's Coolest Cities to Live."

It's because of young people, the arts and culture, but as with everything in Texas (and everything in  Forbes), it's also because of the economy. As Morgan Brennan writes

The Bayou City may not be the first place you associate with being hip or trendy. But Houston has something many other major cities don’t: jobs. With the local economy humming through the recession, Houston enjoyed 2.6% job growth last year and nearly 50,000 Americans flocked there in response — particularly young professionals. In fact, the median age of a Houston resident is a youthful 33.

The result? Over the past decade, the dreary corporate cityscape has been quietly transforming. Stylish housing developments have popped up downtown, restaurants have taken up residence in former factories and art galleries like the Station Museum have been inhabiting warehouses.

Combine that with a strong theater scene, world-class museums and a multicultural, zoning-free mashup of a streetscape and you have the recipe for the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Coolest Cities To Live.

The criteria for the list included data on entertainment options, recreational opportunities, pro and college sports teams, independent bars and restaurants (i.e., Applebee's didn't count), diversity, median age, and net migration. 

"Houston is joined in our top 20 by four other Lone Star metro areas," Brennan wrote. " Dallas ranked fourth;  San Antonio , 11th ; Fort Worth , 13th; and Austin, 19th. They all boast strong economies, large young adult populations and relatively high levels of cultural diversity."

That's right, Austin: last place when it comes to Texas cool (but still cooler than Denver).  

That had the  Austin American-Statesman 's Gary Dinges  in a huff , especially after crunching a few categories (including outdoor recreation and the food scene). 

It’s OK, Austinites. Really, it is. Just roll your eyes and carry on. No need to obsess. We know we’re pretty darn cool — even if some stuffy business magazine thinks otherwise.

Washington, D.C. was number two, and Los Angeles was number three, with Dallas finishing ahead of such cities as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. On the other hand, Orange County, California (number eight) beat out San Antonio and Fort Worth. 

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