Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I checked out Cities Ranked and Rated from the library the other day. Charottesville, VA, ranked the highest; Laredo ranked the worst at spot 331.

For you Purdue grads, Lafayette ranked the highest of local cities at 23. Pittsburgh was at 28. Dayton (!) was 41 (I immediately lost faith upon reading that). Cincinnati was at 92, ranking very high in Arts and Culture and Quality of Life. Columbus was two notches down.

You probably saw all this before (and if you haven't, Google for it). I thought it would be interesting to compare my old neighborhood to my new one, Clifton vs. Anderson.

The book lists ten categories--Economy and Jobs, Cost of Living, Climate, Education, Health and Healthcare, Crime, Transportation, Leisure, Arts and Culture, and Quality of Life-- of which not all are applicable (the weather for both neighborhoods shouldn't be a factor).

I'd guess Anderson has a stronger employment rate simply because there are notably fewer college students in the area. My guestimate, based on the book's scale of 1-10, would be Clifton 7, Anderson 9. (This is entirely unfair to Clifton but it evens out.)

Cost of Living
Both stink (for local neighborhoods). Clifton stores gouge college students, "Here's $750 for your textbook; $5 for a dozen eggs." Many Anderson stores cater to rich snobs. However taxes are slightly lower in Anderson (a nod to the trolls). A home search shows 400 Anderson houses for sale ranging from $54,900 to $2,799,000. Clifton has 113 houses listed, ranging from $24,900 to $1,695,000 (none of the cheaper houses are anywhere near "real" Clifton. Most are in Corryville or Mt. Auburn. Some are far away as the West End.) Even though this is based on outright lies by the realtors, Clifton wins: 6 to 3.

In the sense of weather: tie.

This category looks at education in the area. Although UC is technically not in Clifton, Cincinnati State is, giving Clifton a nod in the college/university slot. Also it's impossible to ignore the influence that UC has upon "real" Clifton. However, with elementary and secondary education, Clifton has absolutely nothing to offer (but private schools). The Forest Hills District consistently ranks in the highest of Ohio schools (and for you trolls, has a much lower cost/student ratio). Anderson wins big: 8 to 2.

Hazard and Illness
Clifton has better access to hospitals, even with Anderson Mercy and the 9,000 doctors' offices in the area. (I'm guessing that cancer rates and pollen counts should be similar.) More people in Anderson have health insurance but I'll give the edge to Clifton, 7 to 8.

I lived in Clifton from 1986 to 1998 and only suffered three minor property crimes. Although crime is nothing like many suburbanites believe, Anderson has the advantage here (local police do nothing but ticket speeders), 6 to 9.

Clifton definitely has better Metro service and is closer to Union Terminal (if that means anything). It's a little easier to get to the airport from Anderson but traffic is worse (not that Clifton's is good). Anderson never suffers from the annual driving hell of "First Day of Classes at UC" but the number of idiots in SUVs is much higher. Clifton has easy access to 71, 74, and 75. Anderson has only 275 and 471. However it is quicker to get downtown from Anderson (even though it is farther away). Year after year, both Clifton and Anderson have the two most accident-prone intersections (King and Clifton; Five Mile and Beechmont). Low scores all around but Clifton clearly wins: 4 to 2.

The book uses several factors that I'm not going to dignify with a response (# of Starbucks in area, # of outlet malls, etc.) Clifton has better bars (which doesn't factor into the book's equation!) but neither have great restaurants (Anderson does have more but none are very good). Neither has a pro sports team but Clifton has closer access to UC, as well as being closer to the zoo (although it's easier to get to the Aquarium from Anderson). Anderson wins big on golf courses but neither do well with ski resorts. Again, Anderson is a little closer to Kings Island but the amusement park category is a let down as well. Clifton does have Burnet Woods and Mt. Storm but Anderson parks are significantly better (and you don't have to worry about kids picking up feces-encrusted bloody condoms off the swing sets, the reason I stopped taking my step-daughter to Burnet Woods). Neither have a coastline but Anderson is closer to the river (Clifton is closer to Mill Creek but I'm not sure if that's an advantage). For the categories the book lists, Anderson wins by a nose, 5 to 6.

Arts and Culture
Clifton is closer to WGUC so has the edge on "Arts radio." Both have a single library but Clifton's is the smallest branch I've been to and Anderson is the largest (the library is arguably Anderson's strongest point). Anderson has nothing in terms of performing arts (Classical music, ballet/dance, professional theater, and university arts programs). Even the Beechmont Players, the local theater group, has to perform in Batavia because there is no local venue for them. Clifton kills here. Anderson has a large park museum but Clifton is closer to Union Terminal and the Art Museum (although the commute would be about the same timewise). Clifton wins, 8 to 5.

Quality of Life
The book has no factors for figuring this category.


Due to the public school system and lack of crime (or excitement), Anderson squeaks by with 49 to 46. Of course, this is coming from an equation that listed Lynchburg, Virginia as the 15th best city in America. Personally I enjoyed living in Clifton far more than Anderson. It was possible to walk to the grocery, the post office, or anywhere else. Anderson is so spread out that cars are mandatory (and the average idiot opts for an SUV ten times the size he needs). If I didn't have kids, I would never have left Clifton. Cliftonites without children, take a moment to consider just how lucky you are.

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