CLEVELAND — Back in 2010, the website Forbes.com ranked Cleveland “The Most Miserable City In America,” and whether that was accurate or not I still refuse to believe that there wasn’t a nicer way to say that.
It’s one of the earliest examples I can recall of the “Where Does Your City Rank On Our List?” genre of clickbait that have since become ubiquitous.
City rankings are like catnip to scrollers all over the world, but my theory is that Clevelanders are particularly susceptible due to our trademarked Cleveland insecurity.
Despite the fact that our city is demonstrably great, many still yearn for validation from outside sources. Which is obviously sad, but only if you stop and think about it. After all, who has the time with all of these fun, new listicles constantly popping up in our feeds?!
Just this month, the website Travel and Leisure ranked Cleveland the “7th best food city in the U.S.” I assume that's due largely to “The Mr. Hero Factor."
Also this month, some restaurant organization called “Toast” declared Clevelanders to be the most generous tippers in the country, which is nice. But I can tell you with certainty that their analysis definitely didn’t factor in the Avon Lake Johnny Malloy’s where I bartended in the early 2000’s, because let me tell you those patrons were thrifty.
You probably already noticed something about the sources of these lists. It’s never The Pew Research Center releasing an article ranking “America’s Hottest Pickleball Cities," it’s far more likely to come from oddly-named websites like NerdWallet or ValuePenguin or ThriftyZebra.net. (I made that last one up.)
Now I’m not saying there’s no scientific merit to any of these lists, just that when a website I’ve never heard of called Livability.com definitively declares Madison, Wisconsin to be the VERY BEST PLACE to live in the country, I think it’s fair to question the methodology applied. And I say that as someone who has been to Madison and can confirm that while it is totally fine, it is not “The Most” anything.
I think most people know to take these lists with a grain of salt and primarily enjoy them as harmless conversation starters. And they do get us a-chattin’.
Just in the past year alone, Cleveland has appeared on dozens of these lists. Some times it’s quite flattering, other times, not so much.
Here are some that I found intriguing:
A site called TravelLemming.com ranked Cleveland as the 30th best place to travel in the world, which is very impressive when you think of how many places there are in the world. Way more than 30, I’ll tell ya that.
Last month, Cleveland was ranked the 5th best party city in the nation, which is very cool as long as you don’t accidentally see the list in its entirety, because it has Salt Lake City edging out Las Vegas by four spots. As a party town. But just ignore that part.
What’s difficult to ignore is having the pest control company Orkin rank you as the 10th most-rat infested city in the country. See, right there. Did they have to use the word “infested”? Very negative. What’s wrong with “Rat-Bountiful”? So that’s clearly not great, but look, it could be grosser. I mean, at least it’s not Bed Bugs, right? Oh wait, we made that list, too.
But hey, GOOD NEWS! Cleveland was recently named the Best Urban Kayaking city in America, whether the haters like it or not.
Less Good: Business Insider ranked us The 19th rudest city in America, but who cares what those dumb jerks think?
And that folks, is just a limited list of the legion of lists that our locale’s been listed on lately.
Sure, most of them aren’t remotely scientifically accurate, but they can still be entertaining. And who doesn’t love finally getting definitive, visual confirmation that Cleveland parties just a little bit harder than Des Moines, Iowa.