I’ve been meaning to do a list like this for a long time, but it’s not the easiest list to put together—I felt I actually had to visit most of the largest 100 cities in the United States before I could create my list. I’ve had the good fortune to visit many of the cities on the list, especially those that I believe are the most walkable. Walkability is the most important quality for cities on this list, but it’s not the only factor. Weather, transit service, amenities, access to water, and other factors were also important.
It should be noted that there are a few cities that I have not visited (or spent enough time in) that I think could crack my top 20. Some of these include: Philadelphia, Denver*, Pittsburgh*, Milwaukee*, Minneapolis/St. Paul*, Louisville*, Nashville*, Charlotte, and Baltimore (cities with an asterisk I’ve been to, but not spent enough time there recently to judge). Please see my comment in the comments area below for my background on why I feel confident creating this list.
19. San Jose, CA – For a city that’s synonymous with urban sprawl, there are many things to like about its downtown. Like Indy, San Jose has a great public space in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. It also has very nice weather and close proximity to many amenities of the Bay Area. San Jose Photos
18. Cleveland, OH – Despite being labeled the poorest city in America and home to some of the worst foreclosure problems, Cleveland does have some redeeming qualities. One of my favorite spots: Little Italy. They also have a new BRT line! Photo courtesy of Joshua Rothhaas
17. Cincinnati, OH – Cinci has a nice location along the Ohio River. It has some very livable neighborhoods and a nice urban downtown. That’s the good news and we’ll leave it at that. Cincinnati Photos
16. Los Angeles, CA If it were not for the massively wide and congested streets, LA would probably be a really incredible city. It’s actually more dense than most people think, and it has one of the best transit systems in the country (seriously!). LA is definitely a city to watch as they plan to add tens of thousands more people to their downtown. Los Angeles Photos
Thanks to John Williams for featuring this article in Centerlines.
UPDATE: I also decided that I should have included New Orleans in my original Top 20.