Livability.com Names the Top 10 Best Downtowns, 2016

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Annual list identifies and ranks America’s best downtowns

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Great cities need great spaces to gather. These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents.

In recent decades there has been a resurgence in America’s downtowns. This redevelopment isn’t taking place in just the country's largest cities. Downtowns in smaller and mid-size towns are also experiencing a renaissance. With this in mind, Livability.com has named the Top 10 Best Downtowns, 2016. These areas are growing and thriving, offering expanded housing options, rising population, affordability, diversity and around-the-clock entertainment.

To pick the best downtowns our editors started with the data on more than 2,000 small to mid-size cities. Using figures provided by Esri, the Census Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture and other sources, they looked for places with low vacancy rates, new development and an influx of people into those spaces. We looked for cultural attractions and nightlife that draw people into the heart of their cities. Finally, Livability editors added in factors typically included in all of our lists, including the city’s Walk Score and measures of affordability and diversity. We also included population parameters to ensure we identified places with more than just a quaint Main Street.

After crunching the numbers to create a list of more than 200 downtown areas, Livability editors whittled it down to the top 10 based on our research, experiences and the desire to create a list that’s diverse in terms of geography and size of the cities. The resulting list is a combination of art and science.

“Having a great downtown is about more than just great stores and great restaurants. A great downtown needs people,” said Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability.com. “Great cities need great spaces to gather. These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents.”

Top 10 Best Downtowns, 2016
1. Alexandria, VA
2. Santa Monica, CA
3. Greenville, SC
4. Bellevue, WA
5. Pittsburgh, PA
6. Boise, ID
7. Tempe, AZ
8. Plano, TX
9. Colorado Springs, CO
10. Evanston, IL

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Matt Carmichael
Livability.com
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