Downtown Evanston might be cute and all, but it's no Boise, Idaho.
That's the verdict of editors at Livability.com, who've damned the north suburb with faint praise by naming it the 10th best small- or medium-sized downtown in the nation, four spots behind Boise.
The website looked at 2,000 cities across the U.S. and ranked them for low vacancy rates, new development, cultural attractions, nightlife, diversity, affordability and walkability. Its editors admitted they used a fudge factor to help rank the top 10 based on their own preferences and to spread the love around.
Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington D.C., scored the top spot. It was praised for its historic downtown and restaurants that draw diners from far and wide, and for the "cozy charm" of store keepers leaving water bowls out for dogs.
Evanston ranked 10th for the second year in a row. It is no longer only a town for "the newly wed, or nearly dead," said Livability, which added that brewpubs and apartment and condominium development have helped make the once-dry downtown a place where former Northwestern students want to stick around even after they've graduated.
The lakefront suburb's charms pale, though, when compared to Boise, whose attractions include a blue plastic football field and the Idaho State Capitol Building, as well as the nearby foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
"Having a great downtown is about more than just great stores and great restaurants," said Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability, who lives in Evanston's eternal rival, the unranked Oak Park. "A great downtown needs people.
"Great cities need great spaces to gather," he added in a news release. "These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents."
Top 10 Best Downtowns, 2016
1. Alexandria, Va.
2. Santa Monica, Calif.
3. Greenville, S.C.
4. Bellevue, Wash.
6. Boise, Idaho
7. Tempe, Ariz.
8. Plano, Texas
9. Colorado Springs, Colo.