Metairie, yes our Metairie, has been ranked No. 27 in a list of America’s Top 50 Best Cities to Live. The ranking, provided by a web-oriented research group known as “24/7 Wall Street,” appeared last week on AOL’s website. Among the “over three dozen socioeconomic measures” were median home value; poverty rate and percent of population with at least a bachelor’s degree. For the most part the list shunned big cities (except inexplicably for Charlotte, North Carolina, which ranked right ahead of Metairie) in favor of smaller suburban sized communities that tend to have less big city culture and history but fewer big city problems, (Ranked right behind Metairie was Eagan, Minnesota; No. 1 was Carmel, Indiana a suburb of Indianapolis.)
Comments about each community, such as these for Metairie, were precise but nevertheless revealing:
27. Metairie, Louisiana > Population: 143,475 > Median home value: $231,100 > Poverty rate: 9.6% (bottom 25%) > Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.1%
One of the poorest states in the country, Louisiana’s poverty rate of 20.2% is nearly the highest of any state. However, serious financial hardship is far less common in some parts of the state. In Metairie, the most livable city in the state and one of the most livable cities in the United States, the poverty rate is less than half the statewide rate.
For those with disposable income in Metairie, the city boasts a dense concentration of cultural amenities and entertainment venues. There are far greater concentrations of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and sports teams in Metairie than is typical nationwide.
Most of the comments were more or less accurate although the last line about the sports teams is misleading unless you count the training facilities for the Saints and Pelicans, whose games are played in the city. (Metairie is the home of the Baby Cakes, though maintaining a straight face while reporting that to a surveyor must have been challenging.)
Metairie has never been a particularly pretty community, though that is changing. Neighborhoods along Metairie Road have their charm and the lakefront can be picturesque. The best-known artery, Veteran’s Boulevard, was once a cluttered path through suburban commercial sprawl with a drainage canal in the center. But “The Vets” is looking better because of beautification efforts including landscaping and art.
One of the busiest corners in the state is Veterans and Causeway boulevards, where Lakeside Shopping Center still thrives alongside the fastest route to the Northshore. (The one blip is the famously ugly Macy’s parking garage, which stands at what should be appreciated as a geographically important cross road.)
That Metairie makes the Top 50 is commendable and, I would think, accurate. Curiously, the community has achieved its accolades while remaining unincorporated. Unlike in nearby Kenner or Harahan, there is no mayor, City Council or City Hall to pay takes to. The community is governed by the parish instead and does not seem to suffer from it.
If there were a mayor of Metairie he/she should order a bottle of champagne to toast the occasion, though there might be debate about whether it should be bought from Martin’s Wine Cellar or Dorignac’s. That competition alone is a sign of the good times.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is available at local bookstores and at book websites.
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