How the city stacks up Baltimore: Are we America's 12th best city to live, but 197th (out of 202) in safety?

December 10, 1996

MAGAZINES love lists of the "best" or "worst." They are good attention-getters, leading to cocktail chatter and arguments. And if the consensus should deem that some picks were in error and made without justification, well, there's always another list next year.

So was Fortune magazine right in naming Baltimore the 12th-best city in America for work and family, just behind Atlanta but ahead of Boston? Or is Philadelphia indeed No. 3 (after Seattle and Denver)? Or Washington No. 8?

And how about Money magazine's list which ranks Baltimore as No. 197 of 202 American cities in terms of safety -- just ahead of New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta and Newark, N.J., which the magazine describes as the most dangerous? (Washington, D.C. was No. 195).

In its capsule review, Fortune mentioned a record violent crime rate among Baltimore's drawbacks, along with the growing abandonment of neighborhoods and continuing school problems. Yet it argues that the city's strengths -- from such revival neighborhoods as Fells Point and Federal Hill to its crab houses and sports teams -- outnumber its weaknesses.

And it said that "suburban Baltimore continues to be a pleasant and affordable place to raise a family. Real estate is reasonable and the cost of living here is close to the national average, something that can't be said of Baltimore's rival to the south, Washington."

These magazine lists are merely amusing games. But if the many lists are combined, they probably amount to a relatively accurate picture of Baltimore's strengths and weaknesses.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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