Potayto, Potahto?

Outside magazine just came out with its 2008 list of the "Best Towns" to live in. (Side Note:  I've been fortunate enough to ...
by | July 10, 2008
 

Outside magazine just came out with its 2008 list of the "Best Towns" to live in.

(Side Note:  I've been fortunate enough to live in the top two places on the list.)(Side Note 2: I wrote about these kinds of "best of" rankings in February, and how they don't really make any difference.)

Anyway, here's a list, Outside says,  of "20 stars of America's 21st-century renaissance [that] are riding a wave of civic reinvention and fresh ideas."

What city would argue against being described like that?

Well, none. But the list has caused a lively discussion on DCist -- but the controversy isn't over the "best" part. It's over the "town" part.

Now, we're not ones to argue with anyone who wants to say that D.C. is the best -- we love our city and wouldn't bother obsessing over every small detail about what life is like here for residents if we didn't think it was a great place to live. But we can't help but notice that most of the other "towns" on this list are much smaller than the District. With a population within the city limits of only about 580,000, we know D.C. itself is a much smaller city than Philadelphia, New York, or Chicago. But the D.C. metro area all together still has the 9th largest metropolitan population in the country, with more than 5.3 million people living in the region. Is it really fair to compare the District of Columbia with someplace like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with its population of 20,600? Would you ever refer to Washington, D.C. as a "town," instead of a "city"?

Comments on the post pretty much agree that it's weird to call DC a "town." I'd chalk it up to meaningless semantics, except it does seem a little strange to lump DC in with places like Ogden, Utah, and Crested Butte, Montana.  I mean, we have a subway system.  And a half-dozen pro sports teams.  And three airports...

By the way, the list isn't available on Outiside's Web site yet, but you can read it here.

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