2015

Top 10 Best Downtowns

Downtowns

The best downtowns consistently change as our lifestyles, priorities and work patterns evolve.


The Soldiers and Sailors Monument reaches into a blue, night sky crowded with tall buildings in Indianapolis.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy of VisitIndy.com

Ranking Criteria

  • Vacancy rate
  • Population increase since 2010
  • Percentage of new homeowners
  • Daytime population
  • Projected median household income
  • Walk Score
  • Entertainment options
  • Arts/Cultural attractions

For decades in the U.S., our downtowns were places where we worked. We would drive in during the morning rush hour and drive back out during the evening rush hour. Suburban malls had drained our downtown cores and our Main Streets of retail and department stores. We had essentially sucked all the people out of downtown.

Thankfully, that's changing in cites big and small as downtowns are again being recognized as a place where people can congregate, enjoy shopping and dining, walk, bike and, most importantly, live. Check out our infographic The Demographics of Living Downtown, to get an understanding of the type of people living downtown compared to the suburbs, and how that's changed through the years. 

With downtowns undergoing a resurgence, how did we choose the Top 10 Best Downtowns for 2015? As always, we start with our focus on small to mid-sized cities, and we dive into the data. Our analysis took into consideration increasing housing values and populations to find cities that are growing and thriving. We looked for areas with new construction because cranes are often a great sign of economic and cultural recovery. We found downtowns with vibrant arts scenes and walkable streets. 

Finally, our well-traveled editors weighed in with their own opinions. The data drives our short list, but our journalistic judgment helps determine the final rankings. 

Our list showcases a range of downtowns in terms of size, style and nature. From the riverfront skyscrapers of Pittsburgh to the distributed squares of Somerville, to Evanston's newly condoized city center, these 10 cities are a great cross-section of America's revitalized downtown landscape.

See who made our list of Top 10 Best Downtowns in 2014. 

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