by Nick Joyner
San Antonio is the 15th coolest city in the United States, whatever that means. In order to rectify clashing definitions of cool (is cool the number of annual Renaissance fairs or the number of local farmer's markets?), Forbes created their own criteria to isolate such an overused and subjective term. Cities were compared in their "coolness" by several judging points, including entertainment options per capita (zoos, sports, theater performances, etc.), presence of restaurants and bars (especially local ones), cultural diversity of population (the more mixed, the better), age of the population (ages 20-34 preferred), and the amount of recent migration to the city (higher net population growth is favored).
Golden State cities were coolest of all with eight cities on the list, and Austin and Houston came in third and fourth place, respectively. Washington D.C. took the the top spot because of its high number of museums and ethnic diversity, and Seattle took the second spot because of its crunchiness and local restaurants.
So let's roll through San Antonio's results on the coolness meter. We scored a 75 on the Arts & Culture Index, a respectable showing that definitely helped our score. With the current exhibitions at Blue Star and ArtPace, the Matisse exhibits at SAMA and the McNay, Dalí at La Cantera, and several other happenings this month, our artistic nature has certainly been on display in recent years. In a similar vein, we scored a valiant 70 in the recreation department, probably because of our world-famous zoo, beloved Spurs, Missions, and Scorpions, and parks that provide favorite weekend activities and attract tourists.
San Antonio scored a 68.81 in the Diversity Index, an alright score that probably comes as no surprise for those who have visited cities like Houston and Los Angeles. Our city, however, is poised to make up for that lack of ethnic diversity, with a 4.8% net migration in the past 4 years that's brought in some residents to spice up our melting pot.
In the Local Eats criterion, we scored an OK 61.5%, no shocker to the many of you who travel to Austin and Houston on foodie excursions. But this number is nowhere near stagnating, as the restaurant explosion in Southtown, Downtown, and the Pearl and Midtown areas introduces a new locally-owned eatery every few weeks.
We scored particularly high in the percentage of our population aged 20-34, at 29.5%. This news only echoes the praises of another Forbes study the Current previously covered, which conjectured that San Antonio was the best place for millennials and young families to live.
This listing of San Antonio may be a little lower than we hoped for, but it's a positive recognition for the city. Many of the cities that topped this list also topped the list of the nation's most expensive cities, a list where San Antonio was nowhere to be found. This affordable degree of "coolness" has made our metro a hot spot area for more loft apartments and gourmet eateries. Coupled with the yuppie migration to the city, this development can only result in more growth and diversification.
For some SA residents, "coolness" is arbitrary and irrelevant. But for those who want San Antonio to move higher up on the list, we're already on our way.