It used to be that Americans went to college and then got a job either near where we graduated or back near where we grew up — places we were familiar with. Maybe later in our careers, we’d get moved to another location, or choose to relocate on our own. The Internet has, in its relatively short existence compared to other technologies, opened up career opportunities, making it easier to find jobs anywhere in the USA, thanks to hundreds of job sites and listings on thousands of corporate sites. Of course, that’s maybe more choice than some of us want or need, though the option is there.
One area of growth is in computer-related jobs, which goes beyond just programming. We’ve compiled a list of 50 American cities with the most tech jobs. Because job counts are so variable from month to month, even week to week, we observed computer-related job postings over a five-month period in over 80 regions. This info was combined with top cities for existing computer-related jobs to form this general outlook. It’s a loose ranking, and jobs are subject to change. Since computer-related jobs can by nearly any company these days, we’ve listed the top industries in each city and some of the top employers.
- Ranking here is approximate, not exact, due to ever-changing job availability and trends.
- While the majority of jobs are in cities, population is not always an indicator, as some towns are part of “research parks/ technology corridors.”
- Many of the entries in the list represent a region, not necessarily just one city or town. There are several reasons for this, but primarily to not give more entries to one part of the country than necessary (e.g., all the cities/towns in Silicon Valley, California). As well, by providing info on a region and the “livability index,” you have some options as to where to live near a place with suitable jobs.
- Regions mentioned here are usually based on a federal or state government agency’s definition of a “statistical area.” Statistical areas are not used when they occur across state borders, or when area is very large and using multiple entries makes more sense.
- MSA = Metropolitan Statistical Area
- CSA = Combined Statistical Area; typically includes any MSAs
- For reader convenience, each entry links to the official website of the primary city/ town/ county listed,
- Population figures are approximate and are either based on the 2010 US Census or a specific year’s estimate.
- Abbreviation “K” = thousands (multiplier). E.g., 599.1K ~= 599,100
- Abbreviation “M” = millions (multiplier). E.g., 3.126M ~= 3,126,000
- A shortlist of top employers and local or nearby colleges is provided for each entry when available.
- A lot of different jobs fall into the spectrum of “computer-related.” Our job search research used a combination of terms, including database, software, computer, network, information, IT, systems, administrator and several other keywords, for both job titles and job description text. Keep in mind, also that “computer-related” includes less technical/ non-engineering careers as well, which many large non-tech companies may offer.
- Entries include a Livability Index when available, which is sourced from Areavibes.com.
- Cycling-friendly ratings are sourced from bikeleague.org (The League of American Bicyclists).
- “Best places rank” refers to Forbes 2014 list of Best Places for Business and Careers.
Geographic Breakdown by State
Twenty-seven states are represented in this list. The top five states by number of entries is as follows:
- CA 6 entries
- TX 5
- FL 4
- OH 4
- VA 4
The caveat is that some of the entries represent a region, so have multiple entries. For example, the state of California has some large areas representing dozens of cities/ towns collectively.
50. Nashville, TN
Nashville, Tennessee, was settled on Christmas Day in 1779, almost twenty years before Tennessee became a state (1796), and incorporated in 1809. It is the county seat of Davidson County and has been the current state capital since 1843, as well as during the years 1812-1815. The 2010 population of the Nashville MSA, which includes six smaller municipalities, was about 1.593M, and estimated at 1.758M for 2013. The Nashville MSA was the first consolidated city-county (“metro”) government in the USA. The larger Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin CSA had 1.877M people in 2013. Forbes ranked Nashville in the top ten as a place “to grow and prosper,” as one of the best places for careers, and as a Brain Magnet location for people with college degrees. Nashville is known as “Music City” and has a well-known music scene that Rolling Stone magazine has called the best in the nation and which includes a Grammy-winning symphony. Other info about Nashville:
- Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee. Memphis is the largest.
- Livability index: overall=80; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=A.
- The cost of living in Tennessee is about 88.9% of the U.S. national average (2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index), thanks to all components being below the national average. (The Index factors the cost of groceries, housing and utilities.)
- Best places rank: #10
- Cycling: Nashville-Davidson County has a Bronze rating from bikeleague.org, and the city has a bike sharing program.
- Major league professional sports teams include the Tennessee Titans (NFL football) and Nashville Predators (NHL hockey).
- The numerous institutions of higher learning in the area include Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Nashville State Community College, Belmont University and several others
- The primary industries are music, transportation, banking, healthcare, and publishing.
- Top employers include Vanderbilt University and the Medical Center, the Metro government and public schools, the state government and the U.S. Government. Dell Computers also has a presence.
49. Alexandria, VA
George Washington’s hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, was founded in 1749 and incorporated several times, the last time in 1870 as an independent city. This is the city of Alexandria, located a few miles from Washington, DC, and not to be confused with the original county of Alexandria (now known as Arlington). The city ‘s 2010 Census population was 140.0K, and the 2013 estimate as 148.9K. The historic center of Alexandria is called Old Town, and the city has a number of transit options including water taxi. Downtown Alexandria made #5 on Livability.com’s Top 10 Best Downtowns list for 2014. Other info about Alexandria:
- Livability index: overall=82; employment=B+, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F.
- Cycling: Silver rating
- Sports: There are no major league professional sports teams.
- Institutions of higher education: There are a number of community colleges and also campuses/ branches for Virginia Commonwealth University and The George Washington University.
- Top employers include federal civil service, U.S. military, U.S. Department of Defense, USPTO (Patents office), City of Alexandria, the public system, the metro transit authority. Innova Health System, Institute for Defense Analyses
48. Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah, was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and several other Mormons. It is the largest city in the state by population, with an estimate of 191.2K in 2013. Urban SLC had a 2013 estimated population of 1.021M. The SLC metro area/ MSA consists of three counties (and West Valley City) and had a Census 2010 population count of 1.153M. The SLC CSA (Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo) had a 2010 population of 2.424M. Salt Lake City has been the location for dozens of movies (and some reality TV shows), including some box office hits. Other info about Salt Lake City:
- Livability index: SLC=(overall=75; employment=C, education=B, housing=B+, cost of living=C+), Ogden=(overall=76; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C+, cost of living=A+), Provo=(overall=80; employment=C, education=A, housing=B, cost of living=B+)
- Best places rank: #8
- Cycling: SLC=Silver, Ogden=Bronze, Provo=Bronze
- Major league professional sports teams include the Utah Jazz (NBA basketball; previously New Orleans Jazz) and Real Salt Lake (MLS soccer).
- Institutions of higher learning include University of Utah (an original one of four universities connected to ARPANET, which preceded the Internet), Neumont University, several colleges and education centers for Utah State University and Brigham Young University.
- Numerous companies have headquarters in the area, including Myriad Genetics and Vehix, as well as in nearby cities, including Overstock.com, or with offices: Adobe, eBay, Seibel, Intel, and others.
47. Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon, was founded in 1845 and incorporated a few years later in 1851. It was named by one of the two founders for his hometown of Portland, Maine, but was almost named Boston, for the hometown of the other founder. The environmentally-conscious city, which is the county seat of Multnomah County, had a 2010 Census population of 583.8K, which grew to an estimated 609.4K in 2013, making it the most populous place in the state. Also in 2010, the Portland urban area population was 1.850M, the metro/MSA area was 2.314M and the CSA at 3.022M. The city has an unofficial slogan of “Keep Portland Weird.” Nicknames include City of Rose and Stumptown.
Portland reputedly has the most breweries and microbreweries in the world, and has been praised for its street food / food carts (the city is very vegetarian-friendly), as well as for being one of the safest cities in the USA (ranked #3 by Forbes in 2009). The NY Times called the music scene “one of the most exciting,” and numerous films have been shot there as well as several TV shows. The region is nicknamed Silicon Forest, and numerous hardware and biotech companies are based there (including LaCie, Genentech, Tektronix, WaferTech). Software companies have offices there: McAfee, Jive Software, Autodesk, Urban Airship. Other info about Portland:
- Livability index: overall=76; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B+, cost of living=D.
- Best places rank: #21
- Cycling: Platinum rating (highest from the League of American Bicyclists).
- Major league professional sports teams are the NBA’s Portland Blazers and MLS’s (Major Soccer League) Portland Timbers.
- Higher education: Institutions include Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University, University of Portland, Lewis & Clark College and others.
- Top employers: Intel (has over 15,000 employees) and the metro area has well over 1,000 tech companies (has a history of this over decades)
46. Dayton, OH
Dayton, Ohio, was founded in 1796, with the city being established in 1805. Known for being the home of the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur), who are credited for creating the first successful airplane, the city has the motto of “Birthplace of Aviation.” Also known as the Gem City, its 2010 Census population was 141.5K, and estimated to have grown to 143.4K by 2013. the Dayton metro/MSA had a 2010 population of 841.5K, and the Dayton-Springfield-Greenville CSA was at 1.080M. Other info about Dayton:
- Livability index: Dayton=(overall=72; employment=D, education=C+, housing=F, cost of living=A+), Springfield=(overall=72; employment=D+, education=C+, housing=D, cost of living=A+), Greenville=(overall=75; employment=D+, education=B+, housing=D+, cost of living=A+).
- Best places rank: #182
- Cycling: Dayton=Bronze; Springfield and Greenville not rated.
- Sports: Dayton has no major league sports teams but has several minor league and semi pro teams.
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Dayton, Wright State University and others.
- Top industries: defense, aerospace, healthcare — considered #3 in healthcare in 2011 by HealthGrades. Geographically well-placed: logistical centroid for shipping, manufacturing, etc. The city is ranked highly for college grads in terms of finding a job (#20 of 30 in Bloomberg Businessweek, 2010).
- Top employers include: Premier Health Partners, Montgomery County, University of Dayton, City of Dayton
45. Plano, TX
Plano, Texas, in Collin County was settled in the early 184s and incorporated in 1873.
CNN Money magazine called Plano “the best place to live in the Western United States” in 2005, 2006 and 2011, as the 11th best place to live in the country (2006), and as the wealthiest city in the country (2007) — which is echoed by US Census Bureau data based on media household income for 2008). Plano was designated as the safest city in the country (2010, 2011), and as a top suburb overall (2008). As well, the public school district is highly regarded due to low student-to-teacher ratios, resulting top ratings for education. The city’s estimated 2012 population was 269.8K. Other info about Plano:
- Livability Index: overall=84; employment=B+, education=A, housing=B, cost of living=D+.
- Cycling: Not rated by bikeleague.com but retired professional cyclist Lance Armstrong was born in Plano and reputedly resides there.
- Sports: No major league professional sports teams, however numerous professional athletes were born and/or currently live there.
- Higher education: SMU-in-Plano (branch of Southern Methodist University) and campuses of Collin College.
- Top employers in recent years include HP Enterprise Services, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Dell Services, Huawei, Seimens PLM Software.
44. Milwaukee, WI
The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area was settled by a French Canadian in 1785 as a trading post but had long before been inhabited by various nations of Native Americans. Later, in 1835, it became a Great Lakes port and was incorporated nearly a dozen years later in Jan 1846. Milwaukee is the county seat of Milwaukee County and had a Census 2010 population of 594.8K, which was estimated to have grown to 599.2K by 2013. In 2010, Milwaukee urban population was 1.376M, the metro/MSA population was 1.570M, and the 8-county Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha CSA (Greater Milwaukee) population was estimated at 2.040M. Nicknames include “City of Festivals,” due to its lakefront Summerfest festival, which earned the title of largest festival in the world (1999 Guinness Book of World Records). The city is also know for its sculptures (over 70) to honor historically significant people – some still living. Other info about Milwaukee:
- Livability index: overall=73; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C+, cost of living=A.
- Best places rank: #104
- Cycling: Bronze rating
- Sports: Major league professional sports teams in the area are the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB baseball), Milwaukee Bucks (NBA basketball), and various minor league teams. The city also supports the Green Bay Packers (NFL football), some of whose home games were played at County Stadium in Milwaukee for over 60 years (up to 1994).
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Cardinal Stritch University, Herzing University, Marquette University, several local colleges and institutes, and branches of universities based elsewhere.
- Employers: Several Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Milwaukee and area. Top employers include Rockwell Automation, GE Healthcare Diagnostic Imaging, Harley-Davidson. Several firms are in the business of financial transaction processing systems, and publishing and printing.
43. Kansas City, MO
Kansas City, Missouri – one of two county seats in Jackson County – was founded in the 1830s as a river port, then incorporated in Mar 1853. The area was temporarily under Spanish Rule due to the Treaty of Paris (1763), decades before it was a river port. The city — not to be confused with one of the same name a few miles away in Kansas state — has nicknames that include “City of Fountains” and “Heart of America,” and is known for its own style of jazz, blues and barbeque. Walt Disney also founded his first animation studio while living in KC. The city population – largest in the state of Missouri — in the 2010 Census was 459.8K, and estimated at 466.6K for 2013. In 2010, the urban population was 1.519M, the metro/MSA population at 2.340M, and the CSA (which includes part of Kansas state) at 2.394M. Other info about Kansas City, MO:
- Livability index: overall=77; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A.
- Best places rank: #36
- Cycling: Bronze
- Professional sports: Major league sports teams include Kansas City Royals (MLB baseball), Kansas City Chiefs (NFL football) and Sporting Kansas City (MLS soccer)
- Higher education: KC has numerous colleges and universities including University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rockhurst University, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Avila University, Park University, Baker University and more.
- Top employers in KC include the federal government (including the IRS and nearly 150 agencies in total), Honeywell, DST Systems, UPS, Home Depot, Hallmark and others.
42. Overland Park, KS
Overland Park, Kansas, has its roots as a suburb of Kansas City, MO, since 1905 and became and independent city when it was incorporated in 1960. While it is part of both the Kansas City, MO-KS MSA and the Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City MO-KS CSA regions, it’s listed here separately since it is in a different state than Kansas City, MO. Its founding is due to being a subdivision created by a real estate developer/ railroad magnate. The city population in the 2010 Census was 173.4K, and estimated at 181.3K for 2013. Its population is second to Wichita, KS, and has experienced significant growth in population in nearly every decade since incorporation. Other info about Overland Park:
- Livability index: overall=82; employment=B, education=A+, housing=B, cost of living=D+. (The cost of living is below the U.S. average.)
- Cycling: Not rated.
- Sports: No major league pro sports teams.
- Higher education: Ottawa University adult campus, University of Kansas-Edwards Campus, Baker University Overland Park Campus, Emporia State University-Overland Park Campus, and various colleges.
- Top employers include Sprint, Black & Veatch, Johnson County Community College, some school districts, and the city. Top industries are educational services, health care, social assistance, amongst others, and Overland Park has actively been seeking tech companies. One such is Netsmart Technologies who setup in 2011.
41. Denver, CO
Denver, Colorado, in Denver County, was founded in Nov 1858 and incorporated three years later in 1861. Nicknames include “Mile-High City” due to its elevation above sea level, amongst others. The city has a consolidated city/county government with a non-partisan ballot. The consolidated city/ county population in Census 2010 was 600.2K, with an estimated 663.8K in 2014. In 2010, the urban population was 2.374M, the 10-county metro (Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO MSA) population was 2.697M, and the 12-county Denver-Aurora, CO CSA had and estimated 2013 population of 3.277M. While Denver is the most populous city in a 500-mile radius, it is the smallest metro area in the U.S. with four major-league sports teams, and is designated a “beta world city” by GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Forbes ranked Denver in 2013 as #6 for best places for business and careers. Other info about Denver:
- The Mountain Time Zone longitudinal line passes through part of the city.
- Best places rank: #4
- Livability index: Denver=(overall=74; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B+, cost of living=D+), Aurora=(overall=75; employment=,C+ education=B, housing=B, cost of living=C+), Lakewood=(overall=76; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B+, cost of living=D+)
- Cycling: Silver. The League of American Bicyclists designated city as the 6th most bike-friendly for 2014. Denver has more than 850 miles of bike lanes
- Professional sports: Major league teams in Denver are the Colorado Rockies (MLB baseball), Denver Nuggets (NBA basketball), Denver Broncos (NFL football), Colorado Avalanche (NHL hockey), Colorado Rapids (MLS soccer)
- Higher education: centered around Auraria Campus in the downtown area, including University of Colorado-Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Denver, Johnson & Wales University, Regis University and Community College of Denver.
- Top industries: energy, mining, telecom, restaurants (especially “fast casual” places like Chipotle, Smashburger and others).
- Top employers: MediaNews Group/ Denver Post, Molson Coors Brewing, Coors Distributing. Tech companies include Comcast, Starz-Encore, Qwest Communications.
40. Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City (OKC), Oklahoma was founded settled in Apr 1889 and joined the Union in 1907. It is the county seat of Oklahoma County, however its city limits are spread out across four counties. OKC’s 2010 Census population was 580.0K (2013 estimate: 610.6K). In 2010, OKC urban area had a population of 861.5K, the metro area was at 1.320M, and the eight-county Oklahoma City-Shawnee CSA was at 1.391M. Forbes declared OKC top of their 2008 list of recession-proof cities. While energy (oil, natural gas, petroleum) has always been a primary industry in OKC (the city is in an active oil field), the metro area has still grown economically despite the general downturn (in the U.S. since 2009) due to diversification of industries. Other info about Oklahoma City:
- Livability OKC=(overall=79; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A+), Shawnee=(overall=76; employment=C, education=B, housing=D+, cost of living=A+).
- Best places rank: #7 (#8 in 2013)
- Cycling: not rated
- Sports: The only major league team in OKC is the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA basketball; formerly the Seattle Supersonics). There are development and semi-pro leagues in other sports, and the New Orleans Hornets (now New Orleans Pelicans) temporarily played in OKC after Hurricane Katrina.
- Higher education: There are nearly 20 universities and colleges in OKC or metro suburbs, including Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma Christian University, Southwestern Christian University and Mid-America Christian University
- Top sectors include government, energy exploration, information technology, health services, livestock, and others.
- Top employers include the State of Oklahoma, the City of Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, AT&T, Dell, Hertz Corporation and UPS, Cox Communiciations. The MSA region also has several large employers.
39. Louisville, KY
Louisville, Kentucky, was founded in 1778, named for King Louis XVI of France. With a 2013 estimated population of 756.8K (consolidated city-county), Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky. Estimated 2013 populations were 1.262M for the 12-county, 2-state Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA/ metro area and 1.491M for the 18-county, 2-state Louisville–Elizabethtown–Madison, KY–IN CSA. The city is known for the annual Kentucky Derby horse racing championship event (held since 1875) and Louisville Slugger baseball bats (manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby), amongst other things. Other info about Louisville:
- Livability index: overall=79; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A+.
- Best places rank: #41
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: Louisville has no major league teams, although it does have minor league and college teams, as well as the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (One nickname for Louisville is Derby City.) It is fourth largest of American cities without a major league team, after Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso, all in Texas.
- Higher education: Over two dozen universities, colleges and private learning institutions in Louisville, as well as in nearby locations. These include University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Spalding University and Sullivan University.
- Top industries include health care, medical sciences research, whiskey/ bourbon.
- Top employers include CafePress, Humana, Kindred Healthcare, UPS Airlines and ZirMed. Yum! Brands and numerous other restaurant chains have headquarters or local offices in Louisville.
38. Detroit, MI
Detroit, Michigan — the county seat of Wayne County — was settled as a fort in Jul 1701 by a French explorer and his accompanying party, later taken over by the United States as of 1796, and incorporated in 1815. It’s history includes being an important area of commerce for Native American nations and European traders. Nicknames include ‘Motor City’ as a result of Henry Ford building his first car there. The 2013 estimated city population was 688.7K, the urban population 3.734M, the six-county MSA population 4.292M, nine-county CSA population 5.311M, and the Detroit-Windsor region (which includes Windsor, Ontario, Canada) 5.7M. While Detroit is the largest city by population in Michigan, its population dropped 25% from 2000 to 2010 (in addition to a 60% drop from 1.8M between 1950 to 2000). Other info about Detroit:
- Livability index: overall=69; employment=D, education=C, housing=F, cost of living=A+. The city filed for bankruptcy in Jul 2013 – the largest such municipal case
- Best places rank: #174
- Cycling: Not rated but three Detroit businesses have Bronze (2) and Gold (1) ratings.
- Sports: Detroit has four major league teams (one of twelve metro areas in the U.S. that do): Detroit Tigers (MLB baseball), Detroit Pistons (NBA basketball), Detroit Lions (NFL football), Detroit Red Wings (NHL hockey).
- Higher education: There are around three dozen colleges and universities in Detroit and surroundings, including Wayne State University (WSU), Detroit, Davenport University, Northwood University and University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit.
- Top industries: automotive manufacturing, technology, health care, finance. TechTown in the New Center district has a research and business incubator hub – affiliated with WSU – with various startup companies.
- Top employers include Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, Comerica, Deloitte, Meridian Health. Companies from metro Detroit are moving downtown as part of a recent trend, including Compuware, OnStar, HP Enterprise Services, Quicken Loans and others. The USPTO (patent office) opened a satellite office in 2012.
37. Arlington, VA
Arlington, Virginia, was founded in Feb 1801 and is a census-designated place equivalent to Arlington County. It was originally part of Fairfax County before the landed was donated to form Washington, DC, but was later returned to Virginia and known as Alexandria County. This name was changed to Arlington County in 1920, several decades after the city of Alexandria became independent of the county due to an 1870 Virginia law. While it is not incorporated as a city, it is referred to as such. (It has no incorporated towns in its borders.) The 2014 population of Arlington was estimated at 229.3K. Arlington is part of the Washington (DC) metropolitan area, which also includes parts of Maryland and West Virginia. Arlington National Cemetery and Ronald Reagan International Airport are located in Arlington. Nearly 20% of jobs in Arlington are technical, and it is the top county in the country in terms of median family income, according to Census Bureau data from Oct 2013. Other info about Arlington:
- Livability index: overall=84; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F.
- Cycling: Silver
- Sports: Arlington has no major league pro teams.
- Higher education: Marymount University is based in Marymount. George Mason University and a number of other colleges and universities are based elsewhere but have Arlington campuses.
- Top industries and employers: Several federal government agencies are based in Arlington, including DEA, DOD, DOJ, DHS, DARPA, FDIC, TSA and others. Various government contractors are also based there, as are companies/ organizations such as National Science Foundation (NSF), Lockheed Martin, Ledios, Deloitte, Accenture and others. Arlington County is also a top employer.
36. Seattle, WA
Seattle, Washington, was founded in 1851 and incorporated in Dec 1869, but had been settled by Native Americans for four thousand years or longer. Originally called New York and variations thereof, it was eventually named Seattle after a local native leader variously named Sealth, Seathle, Si’ahl and other spellings. Seattle’s 2010 Census population was 608.7K, estimated at 652.4K for 2013. In 2010, the urban population was 3.059M, and the three county Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue, WA MSA/metro population 3.610M. (Seattle was the fastest-growing large city in the U.S. in 2013.) Nicknames include Queen City, Emerald City, Rain City, Jet City (before Boeing the aircraft manufacturer moved to Chicago). The city is known for its music scene, including having had dozens of jazz clubs, being rock music legend Jimi Hendrix’ birthplace, and also the birthplace of the “Grunge” music scene that spawned popular alt-rock bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and others. The city has a history of liberal-mindedness on many social issues, and has a significant percentage of self-identified mixed-race and also LGBT people. Other info about Seattle:
- Livability index: Seattle=(overall=76; employment=B, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=F), Tacoma=(overall=74; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B+, cost of living=D), Bellevue=(overall=82; employment=B+, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Seattle has an agenda to be the first climate-neutral city in North America by 2030, and it was designated top “smarter city” by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) based on this and related city government policies.
- Best places rank: #9 (Seattle), #96 (Tacoma).
- Cycling: Seattle=Gold, Tacoma=Bronze.
- Sports: Major league teams in Seattle include the Seattle Mariners (MLB baseball), Seattle Seahawks (NFL football) and Seattle Sounders FC (MLS soccer). There is also a WNBA basketball team, the Seattle Storm.
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, City University, City Universityand others
- Top industries/ employers: Logging is in Seattle’s history, although technology has been a large part of the economy there since the 1980s. Currently, clean tech, computer tech and biotech companies contribute to the economy. Employers in Seattle and the area include Amazon.com, Starbucks, Costco, T-Mobile, Expedia, Seattle’s Best Coffee and several others.
35. Richmond, VA
Richmond, Virginia, was founded in 1737, incorporated as a town in 1742, became the capital of the state in 1780, and has been an independent city since 1871. The area was temporarily settled from 1609-1611. Richmond has a number of nicknames, including The River City. City population in 2013 was 214.1K, and the thirteen-county Richmond-Petersburg MSA/metro area was 1.232M. Other info about Richmond:
- Livability index: Richmond=(overall=75; employment=C, education=C+, housing=B, cost of living=C), Petersburg=(overall=74; employment=D+, education=D+, housing=C, cost of living=A).
- Best places rank: #51 (Richmond)
- Cycling: Bronze (Richmond)
- Sports: There are no major league teams in Richmond, although it hosts summer training camp for NFL’s Washington Redskins. Auto racing is popular, and Richmond International Raceway hosts NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Tennis is also popular, and the area is home to the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center, named after the tennis legend, who is a local resident.
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University and Virginia College.
- Top industries/ employers: Federal, state and local government, law, finance, banking, advertising agencies biotech, film and television. Amazon, Honeywell and Aditya Birla Minacs have a presence in Greater Richmond.
34. Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville, Florida, was founded in 1791 and incorporated in 1832. It was originally a French colony in 1564, but is said to have been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. It is named after Andrew Jackson, later President of the United States, and is the county seat of Duval County, which has been consolidated since 1968. The 2010 Census population for Jacksonville was 821.8K, estimated at 842.6K for 2013. The 2010 urban population was at 1.065M, the five-county metro/MSA population at 1.395M, and the seven-county, two-state Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka, FL-GA CSA population at 1.502M. Other info about Jacksonville:
- Livability index: overall=79; employment=C+, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=C+.
- Best places rank: #75
- Cycling: not rated
- Sports: There is one major league team, the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL football), plus various minor league teams
- Higher education: Institutions include Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida Coastal School of Law.
- Top industries/ employers: biomedical tech, information services, tourism, insurance, logistics, manufacturing and distribution. Local companies include Fidelity National Information Services, CSX Corporation, RailAmerica and others.
33. Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis, Indiana, was founded in 1821 and previously settled by Native Americans. The city is the both the county seat of Marion County and the capital of the state. Indianapolis’ 2010 Census population was 820.4K, estimated at 843.4K for 2013. In 2010, the urban area was 1.487M, the ten-county Indianapolis-Carmel MSA/metro area 1.756M and the eighteen-county Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson CSA 2.081M. Carmel, IN, is the second-largest in the metro area, with a 2013 population estimated at 85.9K. The city is possibly best known for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the Brickyard 400, and the Indianapolis 500 auto racing events – with the latter reputedly being the largest one-day sporting evening in the world. Other info about Indianapolis:
- Livability index: Indianapolis=(overall=76; employment=C, education=B, housing=C, cost of living=A+), Carmel=(overall=84; employment=A, education=A+, housing=A, cost of living=D+), Anderson=(overall=74; employment=D+, education=C+, housing=D, cost of living=A+)
- Best places rank: #22 (Indianapolis)
- Cycling: Bronze (Indianapolis and Carmel)
- Sports: Major league teams are the Indiana Pacers (NBA basketball), Indianapolis Colts (NFL football). The city has hosted the Pan American Games and the Super Bowl.
- Higher education: Institutions include Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Butler University, Marian University, Martin University and various colleges.
- Top industries/ employers: transportation, utilities, various services (professional, business, education, health, scientific, technical), logistics, distribution, government, manufacturing, tourism and others. Companies in the city or area include Brightpoint, Eli Lilly, First Internet bank of Indiana, Emmis Communications, Raytheon, General Motors.
32. Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Allegheny County, was founded in 1758 and incorporated in 1794, although the area was settled in 1717 by Europeans, and was inhabited by various groups of Native Americans long before that. The city is named after British statesman William Pitt, later a British Prime Minister, and has alternately been spelled as Pittsburg from 1890-1911. Pittsburgh has the main nicknames Steel City and City of Bridges, earned because of the hundreds of steel-related companies and bridges. For 2013, the city population estimate was 305.8K, the urban area 1.734M. The Pennsylvania-only MSA is known as Greater Pittsburgh, which includes the city and surrounding counties, and had a 2013 estimated population of 2.361M. The three-state (Pittsburgh Tri-State) CSA had an estimated 2.660M. Other info about Pittsburgh:
- Livability index: overall=76; employment=C, education=B+, housing=D+, cost of living=A+).
- Best places rank: #44
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: Major league teams in Pittsburgh are the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB baseball), Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL football), Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL hockey). There are also various minor league teams, auto racing events, running marathons, motorboat regattas and other events. Several PGA golf greats started out in the Pittsburgh area.
- Higher education: Institutions include Carnegie Mellon University , University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carlow University, Chatham University and Point Park University. There are also many more in the Greater Pittsburgh area as well as in nearby regions east, west, north and south.
- Top industries/ employers: steel, glass, oil, robotics, technology, healthcare, financial services, film, nuclear engineering, biomed tech, tourism and others.
31. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded in Oct 1682 and incorporated in Oct 1701. Founder William Penn also founded the state and several counties. Philadelphia was originally meant to be the capital of Pennsylvania (then just a Colony), and has played a role in American history, which includes temporarily serving as the nation’s capital and being the home of the Liberty Bell. The city is consolidated with Philadelphia County, for which it is the county seat. The estimated city-county population for 2014 was 1.560M, the four-state MSA/metro population 6.051M, and the four-state CSA 7.2M. Philadelphia’s nicknames include Philly, City of Brotherly Love and others. Philly enjoys many “firsts” in the country, including the first zoo, first medical school, first stock exchange and others. The Valley Forge and Wayne suburban area is sometimes collectively referred to as Silicon Valley Forge and Philicon Valley for its high-tech companies. Other info about Philadelphia:
- Livability index: overall=73; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C+, cost of living=C.
- Best places rank: #84
- Cycling: Silver
- Sports: Philly is one of only a dozen cities in the United States with teams in all four major leagues: Philadelphia Phillies (MLB baseball), Philadelphia 76ers (NBA basketball), Philadelphia Eagles (NFL football), Philadelphia Flyers (NHL hockey). There is also the Philadelphia Union (MLS soccer).
- Higher education: According to Citylab.com from 2012, there are over 450K college students in the Philadelphia area. Of those, around 120K are in the city. This is partially due to the many dozens of colleges, universities and other schools. Institutions include University of Pennsylvania (UPenn; reputedly the oldest in the country), Temple University, Drexel University, and many more, including five schools of medicine.
- Top industries/ employers: tourism, information technology, healthcare, biotech, financial services, oil refining, manufacturing and others. Employers include Comcast, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, FMC and several insurance companies
30. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis, Minnesota, was recognized as a town in 1856 and incorporated in 1867. It was settled by French explorers around 1680, and inhabited by Native Americans long before then. Minneapolis’ name comes from a combination of a Dakota Sioux word ‘mni’ and the Greek word ‘polis.’ It is the county seat of Hennepin county and twinned with Saint Paul (collectively known as the Twin Cities). Saint Paul was incorporated in 1854. Minneapolis is recognized as a global city by the GaWC in 2012. Minneapolis’ 2010 Census population was 382.6K, estimated at 400.1K for 2013. The 2010 Census population for Saint Paul was 285.1K. The estimated 2013 urban population was 2.651M, the sixteen-county, two-state Minneapolis-St. Paul–Bloomington MN-WI MSA/metro area was 3.459M, and the two-state Minneapolis-St. Paul MN-WI CSA was 3.798M. Other info about Minneapolis:
- Livability index: Minneapolis=(overall=72; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=D+).
- Best places rank: #17 (Twin Cities)
- Cycling: Minneapolis=Gold, Saint Paul=Bronze
- Sports: Major league teams have come and gone in Minneapolis. Currently, there are three major league pro teams: Minnesota Twins (MLB baseball), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA basketball), Minnesota Vikings (NFL football). The region also has the Minnesota Lynx (WNBA basketball), and the new Minnesota United FC (MLS soccer) team is slated to play in the near future, once stadium plans are decided.
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Minnesota, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota – Minneapolis Campus, Capella University, Walden University
- Metropolitan State University – Minneapolis Campus and University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis Campus)
- Top industries/ employers: Rail and trucking services, healthcare, high-tech, finance, publishing, metal and automotive parts, medical instruments, computers, electronics and others. Companies and top employers in the area include the University of Minnesota, several financial/ banking businesses, several healthcare employers, Target, Capella Education, and others. Minneapolis was named “Top Tech City” in 2005 by Popular Science magazine.
29. Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas, Nevada, was founded Mar 1905 and incorporated in Mar 1911, although it started as a Mormon fort established in 1855 nearly ten years before Nevada joined the Union, in Oct 1864. Various Native American groups lived or passed through the area a few thousand years ago. Las Vegas (aka “Vegas”) is the county seat of Clark County and the largest city by population in the state of Nevada. The 2010 Census population for the city was 583.7K (estimated at 603.5K for 2013), the urban area 1.314M, and the metro area 1.951M. North Las Vegas, a separate, nearby city, had a 2010 Census population for 217.0K. Las Vegas itself has had a minimum of 22% population growth per decade in every decade since its founding, and over 85% growing between 1990 and 2000. This is partly due to it becoming a place of retirement, and families have settled as well. The Vegas area is known for its entertainment, gambling and shopping and has multiple nicknames to match, including Sin City, City of Lights, The Marriage Capital of the World and others. Other info about Las Vegas:
- Livability index: Las Vegas=(77; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=C), North Las Vegas=(75; employment=C+, education=C, housing=B, cost of living=C)
- Best places rank: #111
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: No major league sports teams and one minor league baseball team.
- Higher education: College of Southern Nevada, University of Nevada School of Medicine – Las Vegas campus, plus other institutions in nearby locations.
- Top industries/ employers: Tourism, entertainment, gambling, hospitality (hotels, restaurants), film and television, various services (conventions, marriages, etc.). The city has an initiative to attract hi-tech companies. Online retailer Zappos.com in headquartered in the old City Hall building, and its CEO is contributing over $300M of his own money to revitalize the downtown area.
28. Saint Louis, MO
St. Louis, Missouri, was settled by the French starting in 1764, although the area was explored by the Spanish as early as 1542 — it was part of Spain and France before the United States — and it was inhabited by Native Americans as early as 1500 AD, who left burial mounds there, resulting in the nickname Mound City. Another nickname is Gateway to the West, thanks to the 630-foot high Gateway Arch in the downtown area. St. Louis is an independent city (as of 1877; formerly part of St. Louis County) that was incorporated in 1822. The 2010 Census population was 319.3K, though the 2014 estimate shows a decline to 317.4K. In 2010, the urban area was 2.151M, the MSA/metro area 2.81M, and the CSA 2.906M. Both the MSA and CSA are multi-state. Other info about St. Louis:
- Livability index: Downtown West, St. Louis=(overall=76; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=B)
- Best places rank: #85
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: The three major league teams are the St. Louis Cardinals (MLB baseball), St. Louis Rams (NFL football), St. Louis Blues (NHL hockey). There are a number of minor league teams. The area also hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics.
- Higher education: Institutions are the St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. The latter’s school of medicine has been in US News’ top ten since inception, and contributed to the Human Genome Project. St. Louis and area also has four seminaries (one Catholic, three Protestant)
- Top industries/employers: transportation of goods, manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, biotech, life science. Companies and top employers include Scottrade, Well Fargo Advisors, MasterCard, TD Ameritrade, BMO Harris Bank, United Van Lines, Mayflower Transit, Anheuser-Busch, McDonnell Douglas, Sigma Aldritch.
27. Sacramento, CA
Sacramento, California, was incorporated in Feb 1850, although the Sutter’s Fort, built in 1839, played a part in the city’s early growth, which included being a distribution center during the California Gold Rush days (1848-1855). Sacramento is both the seat of Sacramento County and the California state capital. The city’s 2010 Census population was 466.5K (est. 475.1K for 2013). In 2010, the urban area was at 1.724M and the MSA at 2.149M. The Greater Sacramento area, aka Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA-NV CSA, combines a number of MSAs, eight counties and two states (CA, NV). Its 2010 Census population was 2.415M. In 2002, Time magazine declared Sacramento the country’s most diverse city – in terms of race of residents and bi-/multiracial marriages. Other info about Sacramento:
- Livability index:
- Sacramento=(overall=76; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- West Sacramento=(76; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- Arden-Arcade=(overall=76; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- Roseville=(overall=81; employment=B+, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=D)
- Davis=(overall=82; employment=B, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Best places rank: #124 (Sacramento)
- Cycling: Sacramento=Silver, West Sacramento=Bronze, Roseville=Bronze, Davis=Platinum.
- Sports: Sacramento Kings (NBA basketball) and two minor league teams (baseball and soccer).
- Higher education: Institutions in the city include California State University, Sacramento, Drexel University Sacramento, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. University of California, Davis and various colleges.
- Companies/top employers: State of California, Sacramento County, US Davis Health System, Dignity Health, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, City of Sacramento, several school districts, Aerojet, Teichert, McClatchy Company.
- Livability index:
26. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland, Ohio was founded in 1796 and incorporated as a city in 1836. It is the county seat of Cuyahoga County and had a 2010 Census population of 396.8K (down to est. 390.1K for 2013). In 2010, the urban population was 1.781M, the five-county Cleveland-Elyria MSA was 2.065M, and the thirteen-county Cleveland-Akron-Canton CSA was 3.502M. One of Cleveland’s nicknames is The Rock and Roll Capital of the World, and a main attractions is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which helps contribute to the tourism portion of the area’s economy. Other info about Cleveland:
- Livability index: Cleveland=(overall=72; employment=D, education=C, housing=D, cost of living=A+), Elyria=(overall=76; employment=C, education=B, housing=C, cost of living=A+), Mentor=(overall=81; employment=B, education=A, housing=B, cost of living=B).
- Best places rank: #127
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: Cleveland Indians (MLB baseball), Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA basketball), Cleveland Browns (NFL football) plus several minor league teams. Cleveland also has a long, rich history of sports teams that are long defunct, especially in baseball.
- Higher education: Institutions include Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Institute of Music
- Top industries/employers: tourism, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, biotech (several funded startups), technology. The city has an initiative to promote the tech sector and recruit companies, including by offering high-speed fiber networks and a citywide wifi network. Cleveland garnered a 2005 rating of “Worldwide Digital Community” by Intel, and a 2006 title of Intelligent Community of the Year by Intelligent Community Forum.
25. Irvine, CA
Irvine, California, in affluent Orange County, is a planned community incorporated in Dec 1971, though the area was inhabited several thousand years ago. The city’s 2010 Census population was 212.4K, and estimated for Apr 2015 at 250.4K. Irvine received the rating of best-run city in the country by 24/7 Wall Street in 2014. The city has had one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country every year since 2005, according to FBI reports. It has also had top-five rankings by CNNMoney (2008) and Businessweek (2011) in terms of places to live in the United States. Other info about Irvine:
- Livability index: overall=86; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F.
- Cycling: Silver
- Sports: No major league teams
- Higher education: Has several top institutions, including University of California (UC), Irvine, Concordia University Irvine, Brandman University and California Southern University, plus several local colleges, and over half a dozen campuses of institutions based elsewhere.
- Top industries/employers: technology (particularly semi-conductor manufacturers), film and television. Irvine has a top-rating as a good location for startups. Companies and top employers include UC Irvine, Broadcom Corp, Verizon Wireless, Western Digital.
24. Herndon, VA
Herndon, Virginia, in Fairfax County, was settled in 1858. Despite its small size (2010 Census population of 23.4K), it is part of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and benefits economically as a result. The town is also part of the Dulles Technology Corridor in Northern Virginia, which has defense and tech companies. The Corridor also includes Reston, VA, and a number of other small towns near Herndon that are all roughly northwest of Arlington, VA, and thus also not far from Washington, DC. Other info about Herndon
- Livability index: (overall=80; employment=A, education=B, housing=A, cost of living=D)
- Cycling: Not rated
- Top employers include Booz Allen Hamilton, SCORE Association, ITT Exelis, Boeing, REI Systems. There are reputedly more telecom and satellite companies here than anywhere in the world. Companies either based in or who have operations in Herndon and the Corridor include AOL, Verizon Business, Network Solutions, Carahsoft, Computer Sciences Corporation, General Dynamics, GeoEye, Mitre Corporation, NeuStar, Northrop Grumman, VeriSign, Volkswagen, Orbital Sciences, Accenture, Amazon Web Services, AOL, Apple, AT&T, Cisco Systems, Dell, Google, Juniper Networks, Microsoft and many more.
23. Columbus, OH
Columbus, Ohio was founded in 1812 and is named after explorer Christopher Columbus. It is the state capital and also the county seat of Franklin County, though city limits extend into two additional counties. Columbus’ 2010 Census population was 787.0K (est. at 822.6K for 2013), the urban area was 1.368M, the ten-county MSA was 1.967M and the seventeen-county Columbus-Marion-Zanesville, OH CSA was 2.371M. The city has had several ratings between 2007-2013 as a top city, variously for business, for careers, up-and-coming tech city and cities of the future. Other info about Columbus:
- Livability index: Columbus=(overall=80; employment=C, education=B+, housing=C+, cost of living=A+), Marion=(overall=72; employment=D+, education=C, housing=D, cost of living=A+), Zanesville=(overall=71; employment=D, education=C+, housing=D, cost of living=A+).
- Best places rank: #30
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL hockey), Columbus Crew (MLS soccer) and various minor league teams.
- Higher education: Institutions include Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Capital University Law School, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University and at least a half-dozen others.
- Top industries/employers: government, tourism, hospitality, technology, education, medical research, healthcare, insurance, banking, defense, aviation, logistics, steel, energy, retail, fashion and food. Companies and top employers include OCLC, Siemens, Roxane Laboratories, Metler Toledo, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, American Electric Power, Owens Corning, Vaisala, Techneglas, NetJets, Chemical Abstracts Service, L Brands, Wendy’s, White Castle
22. San Antonio, TX
San Antonio, Texas, was founded in May 1718, though the area was settled by explorers and missionaries in 1691, and the region was inhabited by natives before then. The city is the county seat of Bexar County and is named for St. Anthony of Padua, as is the San Antonio River. San Antonio’s 2012 estimated population was 1.409M, and the San Antonio–New Braunfels MSA/metro area 2.278M. The area has a number of attractions including Marriage Island, the River Walk, various Spanish missions including the Alamo (now a museum). Tower of the Americas (a 750-foot observation tower) and other places. More info on San Antonio:
- Livability index: San Antonio=(79; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C, cost of living=A+), New Braunfels=(82; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A)
- Best places rank: #16
- Cycling: Bronze (San Antonio)
- Sports: Teams include the San Antonio Spurs (NBA basketball), San Antonio Stars (WNBA basketball) and several minor league teams.
- Higher-education: There are nearly three dozen institutions in San Antonio. A few are University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University–San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio, Trinity University, St. Mary’s University and many more.
- Top industries/employers: defense/military, tourism, healthcare, government, financial services, energy (oil and gas), call centers. Companies and top employers include Clear Channel Communications, Rackspace, Kinetic Concepts, Carenet Healthcare Services, Tesoro Corp, NewTek, AT&T, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, Allstate, Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and others.
21. Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, California, was established as a pueblo in Sep 1781 and incorporated in Apr 1850, shortly before California became a state. However, the Los Angeles area has alternately belonged to Spain and Mexico, and been an independent Republic before becoming part of the United States (1848). It was claimed for Spain in 1542, though it was home to various Native American groups in the past. Nicknames include LA, City of Angels, and La-La Land. The city is known for both its traffic jams and for being a center of the entertainment industry, amongst other things. (Hollywood was once a separate municipality but merged with LA in 1910.) The city is the county seat of Los Angeles County and most populous in the state. LA’s estimated 2013 population was 3.884M, the urban area 12.15M, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim MSA/metro area 13.13M, and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside CSA 18.35M. LA and Metro LA are each the 2nd-largest in the country in their categories. The CSA is the third-largest in the world (Tokyo and NYC are larger). Other info about Los Angeles:
- Livability index:
- Los Angeles=(overall=77; employment=C+, education=C, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Long Beach=(overall=77; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Anaheim=(overall=77; employment=B, education=C, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Riverside=(overall=77; employment=B, education=C+, housing=B+, cost of living=D).
- Best places rank: Los Angeles=#117, Riverside=#130
- Cycling: Bronze for each of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Riverside.
- Sports: Los Angeles is rich with major league teams, including two teams in each of the MLB, NBA and NHL leagues. Major league teams: Los Angeles Angels (MLB baseball; previously California Angels and Anaheim Angels), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB baseball), Los Angeles Clippers (NBA basketball), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA basketball), Anaheim Ducks (NHL hockey), Los Angeles Kings (NHL hockey), LA Galaxy (MLS soccer). There is also the Los Angeles Sparks of WNBA basketball. The region was host to the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.
- Higher education institutions are numerous, in the city and in the region. They include University of Southern California (USC), California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), California State University, Northridge (CSUN), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory, Los Angeles Film School and many others.
- Top industries/employers: film and television, video games, music, technology, international trade, media, fashion, science, medicine and research, aerospace, education, sports, manufacturing, insurance companies, professional services (law, medicine). Top employers included the city and county of Los Angeles, USC, UCLA, Kaiser Permanente, Northrop Grumman, Fox Entertainment Group.
20. San Diego, CA
San Diego, California, was established in Jul 1769, as a presidio and mission, and incorporated in Mar 1850 – though the region was claimed for Spain in 1542. San Diego (SD) is the county seat of San Diego County and had a Jan 2014 estimated population of 1.346M. The population for the urban area was 2.957M and the metro area 3.095M. The area is known for various tourist attractions including the SD Zoo and SeaWorld, an abundance of top Mexican cuisine restaurants, and its proximity to the USA-Mexico border not far from Tijuana. (SD is part of the SD-Tijuana metropolitan area.) Other info about San Diego:
- Livability index: San Diego=80; employment=B, education=B+, housing=A, cost of living=F.
- Best places rank:
- Cycling: City not rated, but University of San Diego has a Bronze rating.
- Sports teams include San Diego Padres (MLB baseball), San Diego Chargers (NFL football), and several minor league teams.
- Higher education: Of the many in San Diego and the region, here are a few: San Diego State University; University of California, San Diego; University of San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University and several more.
- Top industries/employers: defense/military, tourism, healthcare, biotech, international trade, research/manufacturing, film and television, wireless/cellular tech. Companies and top employers: Qualcomm, Nokia, LG Electronics, Kyocera, Cricket Communications, Novatel Wireless, Websense, ESET, various hospitals.
19. Orlando, FL
Orlando, Florida, was incorporated as a town in Jul 1875 then as a city in 1885. It is the county seat of Orange County and had a 2010 Census population of 238.3K (est. at 255.5K for 2013). The 2010 population for the urban area was 1.510M, the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford MSA/metro area 2.268M and the CSA 2.976M. Nicknames include O-Town and Theme Park Capital of the World. Tourism plays a big part of region, as it is home to EPCOT Center, Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando, and other attractions — which made it the most visited city in the country in 2009. Also in 2009, a PewResearch Center study found Orlando to be the fourth-most popular place to want to live, based on survey respondents. Other info about Orlando:
- Livability index: Orlando=(overall=79; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=B), Kissimmee=(overall=78; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C, cost of living=A+), Sanford=(overall=79; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A).
- Best places rank: #67 (Orlando)
- Cycling: Bronze (Orlando)
- Sports: The two major league teams are Orlando Magic (NBA basketball), Orlando City SC (MLS soccer; 2015). There are several minor league teams, and local/area golf courses are a major tourist destination.
- Higher education: Institutions include University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University College of Law, Adventist University of Health Sciences, and several dozen others.
- Top industries/employers: tourism, technology, digital media, software, agriculture tech, aviation and aerospace, film and television, electronic gaming, healthcare. Companies and top employers include Lockheed Martin, Seimens, Mitsubishi, Boeing, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon Systems, Northrop Grumman and others.
18. Boston, MA
Boston, Massachusetts, was in Sep 1630 – making it one of the country’s oldest cities – and incorporated in Mar 1822. It is the county seat of Suffolk County, and the state capital, and has been the location of many historic events, including the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride, resulting in the nickname The Cradle of Liberty. Other nicknames include Beantown and The Hub. A part of the city is referred to as the Cyber District in relation its tech companies. Estimated 2013 city population was 646.0K. For the urban area it was 4.180M, metro area 4.629M, and the three-state CSA 8.041M (aka Greater Boston). Boston was ranked an “Alpha-” city by GaWC in 2010. Other info about Boston:
- Livability index: Boston=(74; employment=C+, education=B, housing=A, cost of living=F), Cambridge=(79; employment=B, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F), Quincy=(76; employment=B, education=B+, housing=A, cost of living=F).
- Best places rank: Boston=#45, Cambridge=#28
- Cycling: Boston=Silver, Cambridge=Gold
- Sports: Boston is one of a half-dozen cities that have won championships in the four major leagues. Major league teams include Boston Red Sox (MLB baseball), Boston Celtics (NBA basketball), New England Patriots (NFL football; based in Greater Boston and originally known as the Boston Patriots), Boston Bruins (NHL hockey). Boston also has the New England Revolution (MLS soccer). The area has been submitted as a candidate for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
- Higher education: In the Greater Boston region, there more than a third of a million college students and over 100 institutions in total, including Harvard University, MIT, Boston University and University of Massachusetts Boston.
- Top industries/employers: tourism, education, technology, biotech, research, firms, government, financial services (including venture capital), printing and publishing. There are numerous technology companies in the Metro Boston and Greater Boston areas, including Hewlett-Packard, Zipcar, TripAdvisor, Twitter, LogMeIn, Sapient, Raytheon, Novell, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and many others. Top employers include various institutions of higher learning.
17. Raleigh, NC
Raleigh, North Carolina – the county seat of Wake County – was incorporated in 1792, though it was selected as state capital in 1788. It was named after Sir Walter Raleigh and has been one of the fastest growing cities. The 2014 estimated population for Raleigh was 431.7K, for the MSA/metro area 1.243M, and 2.075M for the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill CSA — which includes the “Research Triangle” area where there are several universities, research centers and startups. Raleigh made #1 in Forbes’ 2014 ‘Best Places for Business and Careers’ list — up two places from 2013. Other info about Raleigh:
- Livability index: Raleigh=(overall=80; employment=C+, education=A, housing=B, cost of living=C), Durham=(overall=80; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=A), Chapel Hill=(overall=82; employment=B, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Best places rank: Raleigh=#1, Durham=#26
- Cycling: Bronze for each of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
- Sports: Carolina Hurricanes (NHL hockey; previously known as Hartford Whalers), and various minor league teams.
- Higher education: Raleigh and area has about a dozen institutions of higher learning, including North Carolina State University (NCSU), Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, William Peace University, Shaw University and others.
- Top industries/employers: electronic and telecom, equipment, high-tech, biotech, medical equipment, banking/financial services, pharmaceuticals, textile development and clothing, paper products, food processing and grocery distribution. Companies and top employers include RedHat, Lulu, Carquest, Capitol Broadcasting, the state, the city, county school system, NCSU, and several hospitals.
16. Tampa, FL
Tampa, Florida, was settled in 1823 and has had various incorporation dates, with the last, for the city, being Jul 1887. The region was previously settled by various Native Americans and was explored by the Spanish in the 16th century but not settled.
The city had an estimated 2012 population of 347.6K, the urban area 2.4M, and the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA/metro area 2.825M (aka Tampa Bay Area), and Greater Tampa 4.310M.
Other info about Tampa:
- Livability index: Tampa=(overall=80; employment=C, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=B+), St. Petersburg=(overall=80; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A), Clearwater=(overall=80; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=B+).
- Best places rank: #72 (Tampa-St. Petersburg)
- Cycling: St. Petersburg=Bronze
- Sports: There are three major league teams in the metro area: Tampa Bay Rays (MLB baseball; previously Tampa Bay Devil Rays), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL football), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL hockey).
- Higher education: University of South Florida, University of Tampa, and a handful of colleges.
- Top industries/ employers: tourism, finance, healthcare, national defense, retail, insurance, telecommunications, real estate. Companies and top employers include the county, Verizon, TECO energy, Publix Super Market, various hospitals, Wal-mart, Citi.
15. Miami, FL
Miami, Florida — the county seat of Miami-Dade County — was settled in 1825 and incorporated in Jul 1896. The area was settled by native cultures for thousands of years and the region explored by Spaniards in 1513, claimed for Spain in 1566, and a mission established in 1567. After Spain, the area was in the hands of Great Britain before the United States. The 2010 Census population for the city was 399.4K (est. at 417.6K for 2013), the urban area 5.502M, and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA/metro area 5.565M. Miami was a refuge for Cubans who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro’s took over that country in 1959. It has the largest Cuban-American population, and is the second-largest city where there is a Spanish-speaking majority — after El Paso, Texas. One of Miami’s nicknames is Magic City, a reference to the rapid growth between 1896-2006, from about 100K to almost 5.5M people. The city was rated the richest in the country, by purchasing power, in a 2011-2012 study, bumped down to #2 in 2012 by Los Angeles. Other info about Miami:
- Livability index: overall=73; employment=D+, education=D+, housing=B, cost of living=D+. Miami was ranked in 2008 by Forbes’ magazine as the country’s cleanest city, based on drinking water, streets, recycling programs and green spaces.
- Best places rank: Miami=#113, Fort Lauderdale=#102, West Palm Beach=#54. Miami was declared an “Alpha-” city by GaWC in 2010.
- Cycling: Bronze (Miami)
- Sports: There are four major league sports teams in Miami or the region: Miami Marlins (MLB baseball), Miami Heat (NBA basketball), Miami Dolphins (NFL football), Florida Panthers (NHL hockey). An MLS soccer expansion team led by David Beckham has been approved, though no name nor start date had been set at time of writing. An earlier MLS team, the Miami Fusion, folded in 2001.
- Higher education: There are more than a dozen public and private colleges, universities and other higher-learning institutions in the Miami area, including University of Miami, Florida International University, Johnson and Wales University and Nova Southeastern University.
- Top industries/employers: tourism, biotech, research, commerce, finance, international business, corporate service, technology, film and television, business real estate. Companies and top employers include Alienware, Brightstar Corp, CompUSA, Inktel and others. Many multinationals have headquarters in Miami representing Latin America operations, including Cisco, FedEx, Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, Symantec and others.
14. Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati, Ohio — the county seat of Hamilton County — was settled in 1788 and incorporated as a city in 1819. Its 2010 Census population was 296.9K (est. 297.5K in 2013), the urban area 1.625M, the three-state Cincinnati-Middletown MSA/metro area 2.137M, and the three-state Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington CSA 2.215M. While Cincinnati has a history of race-related riots, it has played a positive role in the abolition of slavery, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” lived there. Others used the area for anti-slavery efforts, and the Underground Railroad had a “freedom center” there. Other info about Cincinnati:
- Livability index: (76; employment=D+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A+)
- Best places rank: #100
- Cycling: Bronze
- Sports: Cincinnati Reds (MLB baseball), Cincinnati Bengals (NFL football) and several minor leagues covering hockey, soccer, roller derby and ultimate Frisbee.
- Higher education: The city and region have over a dozen institutions, including University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Cincinnati Christian University and several colleges.
- Top industries/employers: Industries in the greater Cincinnati area include auto, technology, telecom, health and biotech, government, commercial services, banking and financial services, construction and real estate, tourism, travel, dining, food and beverage, transportation and several others. Companies and top employers in the area include Kroger, the city, University of Cincinnati, the public school system, the county, Citigroup (Information Technology and Consumer Innovation Training Center), Tata Consultancy, Sunny Delight Beverages, Dotloop, Cincinnati Bell, Cincom, Siemens.
13. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, California, was founded in Jun 1776 as a Spanish fort and a mission for St. Francis of Assisi (known as “San Francisco” in Spanish), and much later incorporated in Apr 1850. There is some evidence of habitation in the SF area as far back as 3000 BC. The region has belonged to several nations/ republics: Spain, Mexican empire, United Mexican States (present-day Mexico), California Republic, United States. The city (“SF”) is consolidated with San Francisco county, and the 2014 estimate for the combined population is 852.5K. The metro area estimate is 4.594M, and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA 8.607M. The region has a long history, and the area is known for many things, including the California Gold Rush, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the Transamerica Pyramid, Treasure Island, Alcatraz Island, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, streetcars, the 1906 earthquake, and the list goes on. SF and the region surrounding it is collectively known as the SF Bay Area. (The region is split into multiple entries in this list.) Nicknames include San Fran, Frisco, and Fog City. Other info about San Francisco:
- Livability index: The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward-Fremont, CA MSA is split into three Metropolitan Divisions, which overall include Fremont, San Mateo, Berkeley, Redwood City, South San Francisco. (See Palo Alto and San Jose entries in this list for the rest of SF Bay Area.)
- San Francisco=(overall=76; employment=B+, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- South San Francisco=(overall=80; employment=B, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- San Mateo=(overall=82; employment=B+, education=B+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Redwood City=(overall=80; employment=B+, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Foster City=(86; employment=, education=, housing=, cost of living=)
- Berkeley=(overall=78; employment=B, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Oakland=(overall=74; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Hayward=(overall=77; employment=B, education=C+, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Fremont=(overall=84; employment=A, education=B+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Best places rank: San Francisco=#18, Oakland=#62
- Cycling: SF=Gold (the Presidio district has a Silver rating and South San Francisco a Bronze), Oakland=Silver, University of California Berkeley=Silver.
- Sports: In the geographic area represented by this entry, there are five major league sports teams (although the 49ers now play in Levi’s Stadium, which is located in Santa Clara, near San Jose): SF-Oakland teams: Oakland Raiders (NFL football), San Francisco 49ers (NFL football), Oakland Athletics (MLB baseball; aka Oakland A’s), San Francisco Giants (MLB baseball), and Golden State Warriors (NBA basketball; based in Oakland; previously known as San Francisco Warriors and originally Philadelphia Warriors). There are also two San Jose teams; see entry #11 in this list.
- Higher education: San Francisco State University, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Golden Gate University and several others.
- Top industries/employers: high-tech, professional services, financial services, tourism, government, leisure and hospitality, education, healthcare, film and television. The region has countless small tech startups, as well as financial sector businesses. Companies and top employers in SF alone include California Pacific Medical Center, Riverbed Technology, Airbnb, Bebo, Chegg, Craigslist, Digg, Dropbox, Fitbit, Instagram, Jawbone, Lyft, Pinterest, Reddit, Salesforce.com, Twitter, Square, Dolby Laboratories, Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, Lucasfilm and many others.
12. Austin, TX
Austin, Texas — the county seat of Travis County — was settled in 1835 and incorporated in Dec 1839. The city was named for Stephen F. Austin, known as the “Father of Texas.” The 2013 estimated population for the city was 885.4K (the second largest state capital in the U.S.), and 1.833M for the metro area. It experienced considerable population growth between 2000-2006. One nickname for the region is Silicon Hills, due to the number of tech companies in the area. This and other factors garnered the city a #1 position on Forbes’ 2012 list for best big cities for jobs. Other info about Austin:
- Livability index: Austin=(overall=80; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=C), Round Rock=(overall=84; employment=B, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=B+), San Marcos=(overall=79; employment=D, education=B, housing=C, cost of living=A+). The city was ranked second-safest in the country for 2012 by the FBI, and it is designated a clean-air city based on various bylaws
- Best places rank: #19 (Austin) – was #1 in 2012
- Cycling: Silver (Austin)
- Sports: There are no major league teams in Austin, making it the largest in the country by population not to have such a sports team.
- Higher education: University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward’s University, Concordia University Texas, Huston-Tillotson University, Texas Health and Science University, and other institutions including a number of seminaries.
- Top industries/employers: high-tech, tourism, entertainment (music scene, music festivals), government, education. Companies and top employers include various levels of government and the independent school district, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Qualcomm, AMD, Cisco, Facebook, eBay/PayPal, Intel, Nvidia, Rackspace and many others. The area also has over 80 pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
11. San Jose, CA
San Jose, California — the seat of Santa Clara County — was founded in Nov 1977 as a pueblo (Spain). It was incorporated in Mar 1850 and temporarily served as the first capital of California, after the latter became a state in Sep 1850. San Jose has the nickname of Capital of Silicon Valley, and Santa Clara County is part of the larger SF Bay Area — which includes the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA. (This entry represents just the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA and includes Cupertino, Milipitas, Saratoga, Campbell, Los Gatos and a number of other cities/ towns in the area. See elsewhere in this list for San Francisco and Palo Alto entries.) The estimated population the city of San Jose as of Jan 2014 was 1.000M, the urban area 1.894M, the MSA/metro area 1.975M, and the SF Bay Area CSA 8.470M. San Jose earned a “global city” designation from GaWC in 2008. Other info about San Jose:
- Livability index:
- San Jose=(overall=80; employment=B+, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Sunnyvale=(overall=84; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Santa Clara=(overall=83; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Cupertino=(overall=85; employment=A+, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Campbell=(overall=81; employment=B+, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Los Gatos=(overall=85; employment=A+, education=A+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Milipitas=(overall=82; employment=A, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Best places rank: San Jose=#32
- Cycling: Bronze for each of San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Cupertino.
- Sports: San Jose has two major league sports teams, San Jose Sharks (NHL hockey) and San Jose Earthquakes (MLS soccer), and a number of minor league teams. NFL’s San Francisco 49ers also now play in Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, not far from San Jose and Sunnyvale.
- Higher education: San Jose and area has several universities, colleges and other higher-learning institutions, including San Jose State University, National Hispanic University, California University of Management and Technology (CALMAT), Lincoln Law School of San Jose and University of Silicon Valley Law School.
- Top industries/employers: high-tech, semi conductors, human resources/ recruiting. Companies and top employers include Adobe, Cisco Systems, eBay, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Cypress Semiconductor, Integrated Device Technology, Quantum, Yahoo!, NetApp, Juniper Networks. Sunnyvale has a number of companies headquartered or with offices in the area including LinkedIn. Ditto for Cupertino, which hosts Apple, a stealth lab of Amazon, and other companies. A number of San Francisco-based companies have offices in San Jose and Sunnyvale. More U.S. patents come from San Jose than any other city, and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro was ranked the happiest place to work by Careerbliss.com in Jan 2014.
10. Washington, DC
The role of Washington, DC, — named for the first U.S. president, George Washington — was approved in 1790 and created in 1791. (The area was previously settled by Native Americans prior to the early 17th century.) The creation of Washington, DC, resulted in the absorption of the port of Georgetown, Maryland — now a neighborhood. Initially, the town of Alexandria, Virginia, was also absorbed but was later rejoined with Virginia. Georgetown was consolidated with Washington in 1871, forming the federal district. More recently, in Dec 1973, DC was granted limited self-government. The 2014 estimate for city (federal district) population is 658.9K, the four-state MSA/metro area 5.950M, and the four-state CSA 9.443M. (The Washington MSA is divided into two “Metropolitan Divisions: Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Division and Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Metropolitan Division. Arlington and Alexandria have their own entries elsewhere in this list.) Tourism is an important part of DC’s economy (2nd, and there is a long list of attractions in DC proper and the area, including the White House, the National Mall, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, many museums, historic Georgetown and more. A nickname for DC is Silicon Hill — not to be confused with Silicon Hills (Austin, TX) — due to the hi-tech companies in the area. Other info about Washington, DC:
- Livability index: (overall=76; employment=B, education=B+, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Best places rank: #43
- Cycling: Silver
- wiki: “Washington is one of 12 cities in the United States with teams from all four major professional men’s sports and is home to one major professional women’s team.”
- Sports: DC has sports teams in all the major leagues, as well as some minor leagues: Washington Nationals (MLB baseball; previously the Montreal Expos), Washington Wizards (NBA basketball), Washington Redskins (NFL football; home base currently in Landover, MD), Washington Capitals (NHL hockey). DC also has the D.C. United (MLS soccer) and Washington Mystics (WNBA basketball).
- Higher education: DC has several universities – mostly private – and a number of other institutions. They include University of the District of Columbia (UDC), Georgetown University (GU), American University (AU), George Washington University (GW) and Howard University.
- Top industries/employers: government, tourism, education, finance, scientific research, public policy, professional and business services. Companies and top employers include the federal government, several universities and hopsitals/medical centers, SATMAP Inc., FNMA (Fannie Mae), Analytica, Blackboard Inc., FiscalNote, HelloWallet, Metalogix Software, TechChange.
9. Houston, TX
Houston, Texas, was founded in 1836 and incorporated the next year. It is the county seat of Harris County and is named after General Sam Houston, who became President of the Republic of Texas (before it joined the United States). Houston was temporarily the capital of the Republic of Texas. The city’s 2010 Census population was 2.196M, the urban area 4.944M, the nine-county Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land MSA/metro area 6.313M. This population is considered the most ethnically diverse in the country, even before NYC and LA. Houston is also part of the Texas Triangle, a mega-region that includes Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. Houston is the home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, whose Mission Control Center oversees all American space launches – giving the city the nickname Space City. Another nickname is The Energy Capital of the World, in reference to its many thousands of energy-related companies doing oil and gas exploration. Houston has variously received ratings such as best city for paycheck value, best place to buy a home, top city for job creation, best city for college grads, best city for shopping. Other info about Houston:
- Livability index: Houston=(overall=78; employment=C, education=C, housing=C, cost of living=A+), Sugarland=(overall=74; employment=C, education=D+, housing=D+, cost of living=A+), The Woodlands=(overall=87; employment=A, education=A+, housing=B+, cost of living=D+), Baytown=(overall=77; employment=C+, education=C, housing=D+, cost of living=A+)
- Best places rank: #15 (Houston) (was #3 in 2006)
- Cycling: Bronze for each of Houston and The Woodlands Township.
- Sports: Houston Astros (MLB baseball), Houston Rockets (NBA basketball), Houston Texans (NFL football), Houston Dynamo (MLS soccer) and various minor league teams. Houston also has a GrandPrix auto race that is part of the IndyCar circuit.
- Higher education: Houston higher-learning institutions include Rice University, University of Houston (UH), University of Houston–Clear Lake (standalone; not a branch of UH), University of Houston–Downtown (standalone; not a branch of UH), Texas Southern University, University of St. Thomas and a number of colleges.
- Top industries/employers: aeronautics, tourism, science, technology, medicine and healthcare, research, energy, renewable resources (wind, solar), manufacturing, transportation, education, oilfield equipment, entertainment and media, fashion, banking, real estate, distribution and transportation.
8. Dallas, TX
Dallas, Texas was settled in 1841 and incorporated in Feb 1856. The area was home to various Native American groups long before Spain claimed the territory of Texas. Dallas is the county seat of Dallas County but has city limits in five other counties. Dallas’ Census 2010 population was 1.198M (est. 1.258M in 2013), the urban area 5.122M. The Jul 2014 estimate for the twelve-county Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington MSA/metro area (Metroplex) was 6.954M. The GaWC ranked Dallas a “Beta+” city for 2012. Dallas has more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the country, and an economy that has diversified from its historical oil and cotton industries. The city has a number of skyscrapers exceeding 700 feet, and other buildings designed by top architects but is possibly better known for its cuisine, including the Tex-Mex hybrid, as well as authentic Mexican food and barbeque. It has several tourist attractions, including the Dallas Zoo, Dallas World Aquarium, State Fair of Texas and various museums and other places of interest. Other info about Dallas:
- Livability index: Dallas=(77; employment=C, education=C, housing=C+, cost of living=A), Fort Worth=(79; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=C, cost of living=A), Arlington=(79; employment=C+, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A)
- Best places rank: #13
- Cycling: Dallas and Arlington are not rated. Fort Worth has a Bronze and the bike sharing program has a Silver.
- Sports: Major league teams in Dallas are the Texas Rangers (MLB baseball), Dallas Mavericks (NBA basketball), Dallas Cowboys (NFL football), Dallas Stars (NHL hockey) and FC Dallas (MLS soccer). There are also various minor league teams.
- Higher education: Institutions of higher learning in Dallas proper and the area are numerous (in the dozens). Some that are in the city include University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Texas Woman’s University (TWU), University of North Texas at Dallas, Dallas Baptist University (DBU) and several colleges.
- Top industries/employers: energy, telecommunications, computer tech, banking, commerce, healthcare, medical research, transportation, logistics, farming, livestock. Parts of the metro area are known as Silicon Prairie and Telecom Corridor, with nearly 6,000 companies including Texas Instruments, Alcatel Lucent, AT&T, Ericsson, Cisco Systems, Verizon, Sprint, Rockwell Collins, Fujitsu and many more. Nearby Fort Worth is known for aircraft manufacturing and defense.
7. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, North Carolina — the county seat of Mecklenberg County — was settled around 1755 and incorporated in 1768. Charlotte’s 2013 estimated population was 792.9K, the urban area 1.249M, the metro area 2.335M, and the sixteen-county CSA 2.493M. Charlotte was the third-fastest growing large city in the U.S. in 2013, after Seattle, WA, and Austin, TX. (The city has had a minimum 19.8% growth in each of the decades since the 1850 Census.) Nicknames for Charlotte include Queen City (which used to be a nickname for Seattle), The QC, and the Hornet’s Nest – with the latter referring to an American Revolutionary War incident where a British commander was driven out of Charlotte by resident rebels. Other info about Charlotte:
- Livability index: Charlotte=(80; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=A), Concord=(81; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A), Gastonia=(75; employment=C, education=C+, housing=C+, cost of living=A+), Rock Hill,SC=(78; employment=C, education=B, housing=C+, cost of living=A+)
- Best places rank: #12 (Charlotte)
- Cycling: Bronze (Charlotte)
- Sports: There are two major league teams in Charlotte – Charlotte Hornets (NBA basketball), Carolina Panthers (NFL football) – and some minor league teams. Motorsports are also important to the city, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame being present, as well as a number of speedways.
- Higher education: University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, Johnson & Wales University, Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte School of Law and several other institutions.
- Top industries/employers: finance/banking, food/beverage processing, energy (over 200 companies), trucking/freight transportation, real estate, motorsports. Companies and top employers include Carolinas Healthcare, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, the school district, Wal-mart Stores, Lowe’s, Novant Health. In the metro area are companies such as Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, Coca-Cola Bottling, Compass Group and others.
6. New York, NY
New York City, New York, was settled in 1624 and incorporated in 1898. The five boroughs of NY, each a separate county, were consolidated in 1898 as one city. Its founding goes back to 1624, to a Dutch trading post in the area, known as New Amsterdam by 1626. The estimated 2014 city population is 8.491M, the three-state New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA/metro area 20.09M, and the four-state New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA 23.63M. NYC is the country’s most densely populated major city (2007 data). NYC has a long list of places of interest — three of the top ten most popular in the world in 2013 — including various bridges and skyscrapers (including the Empire State Building), Broadway and off-Broadway theater, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, Central Park and so many other top attractions that nicknames include The Center of the Universe and the Capital of the World, as well as more traditional ones such as The Big City, The Big Apple, Gotham, The City That Never Sleeps, and The Melting Pot. The latter is a reference to the diversity of ethnic groups and languages spoken — as many as 800 languages and dialects, which is more than any other city in the world. NYC is sometimes referred to as the cultural and financial capital of the world. Another nickname is Silicon Alley, which refers to part of Lower Manhattan, due to the number of high-tech companies in several districts there. Other info about New York City:
- Livability index: overall=75; employment=C+, education=B, housing=A+, cost of living=F.
- Best places rank: #71
- Cycling: Silver
- Sports: Not only does NYC and area have professional teams in the major leagues, it is the HQ of those leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS), each of which has two teams in metro NYC or in nearby NJ locations. The major league teams in and around NYC are New York Mets (MLB baseball), New York Yankees (MLB baseball), Brooklyn Nets (NBA basketball), New York Knicks (NBA basketball), New York Giants (NFL football), New York Jets (NFL football), New York Rangers (NHL hockey), New York Islanders (NHL hockey), New York City FC (MLS soccer)
and New York Red Bulls (MLS soccer). Some of these teams (NFL’s Giants and Jets; MLS’ Red Bulls) play outside of NYC (but inside metro NYC), in New Jersey and other places. There is also the New Jersey Devils in Newark, NJ (part of metro NYC). Additional teams have existed and long left NYC and region, including the MLB baseball teams Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants – both currently in California. Many other sports hold importance in the area, including running (New York Marathon), boxing, horse racing and more.
- Higher education: NYC and are has well over a hundred institutions of higher education. A few of the many are the public CUNY system (24 institutions across all five boroughs), Columbia University, Fordham University, New York University, Yeshiva University, and Rockefeller University.
- Top industries/employers: tourism, commerce, finance, technology, bio-tech, life sciences, software, new media, telecom, education, research, entertainment/theater, film and television. fashion, publishing, real estate. Silicon Alley (Manhattan) companies include Google, Verizon Communications, General Electric Ventures, Shutterstock and DoubleClick, amongst many others.
5. Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, Arizona, was settled in 1867 and incorporated in Feb 1881. It is the county seat of Maricopa County, and the state capital. Long before then, the area was occupied by various Native American groups. Phoenix’s 2010 Census population was 1.446M (est. 1.513M for 2013), the urban area 3.629M, and the metro area 4.399M. The economy of Phoenix originally relied on the Five Cs – cotton, cattle, citrus, copper and climate (which helps tourism). The city has since diversified, with high-tech also becoming important. Nicknames for Phoenix include Valley of the Sun (metro area) and The Valley. The city and area have a number of tourist attractions, including the Musical Instrument Museum, with reputedly the largest collection in the world. Other info about Phoenix,
- Livability index:
- Phoenix=(overall=79; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=B, cost of living=A)
- Mesa=(overall=81; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A)
- Glendale=(overall=79; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A)
- Scottsdale=(overall=84; employment=B, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=D)
- Tempe=(overall=80; employment=C+, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=C+)
- Mesa=(overall=81; employment=C+, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=A)
- Gilbert=(overall=84; employment=B+, education=A, housing=B+, cost of living=D+)
- Chandler=(overall=82; employment=B, education=A, housing=B+, cost of living=C)
- Best places rank: #56 (Phoenix)
- Cycling: Bronze (Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler), Siler (Tempe), Gold (Scottsdale)
- Sports: Phoenix has teams in the big four major sports leagues: Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB baseball), Phoenix Suns (NBA basketball), Arizona Cardinals (NFL football), and Arizona Coyotes (NHL hockey; previously Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets). The city also has the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA basketball), a Phoenix Marathon qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, NASCAR events and more.
- Higher education: Phoenix and area have a handful of universities, satellite campuses, colleges and other institutions. This includes Arizona State University,
University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Christian University. The city is also the headquarters for University of Phoenix, which has campuses in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
- Top industries/employers: agriculture, natural resources, finance, construction and real estate, professional services, waste management, electronic equipment production (including computers), retail, government (state and county), mining, avionics. Companies and top employers include Honeywell (Aerospace division), Intel, American Express, Best Western, Apollo Group/ University of Phoenix, Avnet, Freeport-McMoRan and others.
4. Chicago, IL
Chicago, Illinois — the county seat of Cook County — was settled in the 1780s and incorporated as a city in Mar 1837. Chicago is named after a wild leek/onion known as shikaakwa/ shikako in the Miami-Illinois language. The city has various nicknames, including the Windy City, Chi-town/Chitown and Second City. Chicago and Urbana-Champaign are collectively sometimes referred to as Illinois Silicon Prairie (one of four regions that use the “Silicon Prairie” moniker) in reference to the tech companies there. There are a couple of dozen minor nicknames as well. The Chicago metro area is known as Chicagoland and has multiple statistical definitions, including the three-state Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA and the three-state Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI CSA. The MSA consists of more than two dozen cities/ towns. Chicago’s Census 2010 population was 2.696M (est. at 2.719 for 2013), the MSA/ metro population 9.5222M, and the CSA population 9.913M (2013 est.). It was known as the fastest growing city in the world for several decades after incorporation, and its O’Hare International Airport is said to be the busiest in the world (by aircraft movement). GaWC deemed it an alpha global city for 2012. Other info about Chicago:
- Livability index: overall=73; employment=C+, education=C+, housing=B+, cost of living=D.
- Best places rank: #107
- Cycling: Silver
- Sports: Sporting news called Chicago the Best Sports City in the years 1993, 2006 and 2010. Major league teams are the Chicago Cubs (MLB baseball),
Chicago White Sox (MLB baseball),
Chicago Bulls (NBA basketball),
Chicago Bears (NFL football),
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL hockey),
Chicago Fire (MLS soccer).
There is also the Chicago Sky (WNBA basketball).
- Higher education: Chicago and area has many dozens of institutions of higher learning. A few of the universities in city limits include University of Chicago, Chicago State University, DePaul University and University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Top industries/employers: science, engineering, finance/banking, manufacturing, printing, publishing, food processing, medical products, service companies. Companies and top employers include Boeing, Motorola spin-offs, Groupon, CareerBuilder, Orbitz, NowSecure, 37signals, Feedburner, General Electric (Healthcare Financial Services division), Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, various stock exchanges, Chase Bank, Kraft Foods, McDonalds.
3. Atlanta, GA
Atlanta, Georgia — the county seat of Fulton County — was formed as Terminus (intersection of two railroad lines) in 1837, became Marthasville in 1843 and finally incorporated as the city of Atlanta in Dec 1847. Atlanta’s estimated 2013 population was 447.8K, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta urban area 4.975M, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell MSA/metro area 5.523M, and the 39-county Atlanta-Athens-Clarke-Sandy Springs CSA 6.162M. Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport is one of the world’s busiest. Nicknames for Atlanta include Hotlanta and the Silicon Peach – the latter in reference to high-tech companies located there. GaWC declared Atlanta an “Alpha-” world city for 2012. Metro Atlanta ranked sixth fastest-growing city for information technology jobs in an Apr 2012 Forbes list, and the area is said to have the fourth-highest number of jobs in this sector, in the U.S. Other info about Atlanta:
- Livability index:
- Atlanta=(overall=77; employment=C, education=B+, housing=B, cost of living=C)
- Sandy Springs=(overall=82; employment=B, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=F)
- Marietta=(overall=77; employment=C, education=B, housing=B, cost of living=C)
- Alpharetta=(overall=84; employment=A, education=A+, housing=A, cost of living=D)
- Roswell=(overall=83; employment=B+, education=A, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- Smyrna=(overall=; employment=B+, education=A, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- Dunwoody=(overall=82; employment=B+, education=A, housing=A, cost of living=D)
- Peachtree City=(overall=84; employment=A, education=A, housing=B+, cost of living=D)
- Best places rank: #14 (Atlanta)
- Cycling: Bronze for each of Roswell and Peachtree City: Bronze. Atlanta not rated.
- Sports: The Atlanta region has hosted a number of NFL Super Bowls and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Major league teams in the area are the Atlanta Braves (MLB baseball), Atlanta Hawks (NBA basketball) and Atlanta Falcons (NFL football). NHL hockey has not done as well in the area, with two Atlanta teams being moved to Canadian cities – the Atlanta Flames (1972-80) became the Calgary Flames in 1980, and the Atlanta Thrashers (1999-2011) became the new Winnipeg Jets in 2011.
- Higher education: There are dozens of universities, colleges and other institutions in the Atlanta area. Some of the universities in city limits include Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech),
Georgia State University,
American Intercontinental University,
Clark Atlanta University and
- Top industries/employers: information technology, logistics, business services, professional services, media operations (particularly cable TV), film and television. Companies and top employers include AT&T Mobility, UPS, Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, CNN, TBS, Cox Enterprises, Weather Channel. More than 75% of Fortune 1000 companies have offices in the metro Atlanta area.
2. Redmond, WA
Redmond, Washington, in King County was incorporated in Dec 1912 but had been settled by Native Americans for thousands of years, a fact which contributes to a number of National Historic Place designations. The 2010 Census population was 54.1K (est. at 57.5K for 2013). While Redmond is part of Greater Seattle, it stands on its own for tech-related work, and is expected to grow. SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk (who founded Tesla Motors) is planning on hiring engineers for his space exploration program, which may include colonizing Mars. The company announced in Jan 2015 that a research, development and manufacturing facility will be opened in Redmond, partly for a $10B “space Internet” satellite initiative. As many 1,000 jobs will be available. Other info about Redmond:
- Livability index: 82; A for employment, education and housing; F for cost of living
- Best places rank:
- Cycling: Silver. The city has the nickname of “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest” and has a velodrome.
- Sports: Redmond has no professional sports teams.
- Higher education: There are two institutions of higher learning in Redmond: DigiPen Institute of Technology and a satellite campus of Lake Washington Technical College.
- Top industries/employers: Companies and top employers include Microsoft, Nintendo of America, AT&T Mobility, Volt Technical Resources, Honeywell, UPS, Medtronic, Genie Industries, Wild Tangent, Data I/O and others.
1. Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto, California, in Santa Clara County was incorporated in Apr 1894 and named after a Redwood tree known as El Palo Alto. Explorer Gaspar de Portola, founder of San Diego, CA, found a Native American settlement in the area in 1769. There are burial mounds in the area. Palo Alto is part of Silicon Valley (which in turn is part of the San Francisco Bay Area). While the population is small (65.5K for 2010 Census; est. 66.6K for 2013), the city has been instrumental to many tech startups — some of whom have moved to nearby locations, others still there, and more that are being incubated. Palo Alto is adjacent to the census-designated area known as Stanford, California, which is where Stanford University is located, and where many tech companies got their start, as spinoffs of college projects (e.g., Google, where founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were PhD students, but later dropped out). Other info about Palo Alto:
- Livability index:
- Palo Alto=(overall=85; employment=A+, education=A+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Stanford=(overall=82; employment=C+, education=A+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Mountain View=(overall=82; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Los Altos=(overall=86; employment=A+, education=A+, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Menlo Park=(overall=84; employment=A, education=A, housing=A+, cost of living=F)
- Cycling: Palo Alto: Gold, Mountain View: Silver, Los Altos: Bronze, Menlo Park: Silver
- Sports: There are no professional sports teams in Palo Alto, although a number of well-known athletes, including Olympics champions, were born here or live/lived here.
- Higher education: Stanford University and Palo Alto University.
- Top industries/employers: There are over 7,000 businesses in Palo Alto. Some of the more well-known companies (tech or otherwise) who are either headquartered here or have operations include Amazon.com’s A9.com, Hwelett-Packard, IDEO, Mashable, Ning, Palantir, Palo Alto Research Center, Tesla Motors, Tibco Software, VMWare, Xerox, AOL, Dell, Groupon, Nokia Research Center, Skype and several others.