The New York Times cited the Fox Theater when it included Oakland on its list of 45 place to go in 2012. Photo by Pete Hottelet/Flickr.
The New York Times cited the Fox Theater when it included Oakland on its list of 45 place to go in 2012. Photo by Pete Hottelet/Flickr.

We’re No. 1! And No. 3! Also No. 9!

As one of the biggest metropolitan regions in the country, the Bay Area routinely appears on lists created by government officials, PR firms and others. The lists claim to measure everything from human misery to the housing market, and they’re shilled in press releases that come through our inboxes at KQED News almost every day. Often, they rank our region pretty high.

But are those lists accurate? You be the judge. Let’s take a look back at who ranked the Bay Area and its cities on their 2012 lists, and then leave a comment at the bottom of this post letting us know what you think and what lists we missed.

The year started with a pleasant surprise for a struggling Bay Area city, as in January the New York Times ranked Oakland No. 5 on its list of the 45 places to go in 2012. Oakland was the top American city on the list.

“New restaurants and bars beckon amid the grit,” the Times wrote. “Tensions have cooled since violence erupted at the recent Occupy Oakland protests, but the city’s revitalized night-life scene has continued to smolder.”

In September, Bloomberg Businessweek put San Francisco at No. 1 on its list of America’s Best Cities.

Though numbering fewer than a million people, this coastal city packs in so much—from world-class restaurants and museums to community fairs and music festivals, a large educated class, and an improving economy—that many proud San Franciscans will tell you that its finish at the top of’s 2012 best cities ranking is well-earned.

Of course, lots of people would want to learn more about America’s Best City. So it makes sense that San Francisco would be the most-Googled city of 2012. And if you search Google you’ll probably learn that San Francisco has an active LGBT community and a diverse dining scene, which makes sense, considering that Travel and Leisure ranked it as both the No. 1 gay-friendly city and the top city for ethnic food. It was No. 2 when it came to diversity, cafes and tech-friendliness, according to Travel and Leisure, which also ranked it No. 3 for hipsters. (No. 3, Travel and Leisure? Did you walk around the Mission this year?)

In addition, this year San Francisco ranked No. 3 on The Daily Beast’s list of America’s greenest cities, while the research firm Clean Edge ranked it No. 2 for green tech activities.

No. 1 on that list was San Jose, which also topped Career Builder’s list of cities with the most job growth between 2010-2012 (San Francisco was No. 9.) And if you’re flying to San Jose to interview for a new job, you can be reasonably confident you’ll arrive on time, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation. The agency said Mineta San Jose Airport was No. 1 for on-time performance in California. (SFO was at the bottom of the list.)

Of course, that job will need to be high-paying if you hope to buy a home. This month the National Association of Home Builders said San Jose had the eighth-least affordable market for home buyers in the country. San Jose also had the nation’s fifth-highest increase in home prices between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The picture is even bleaker in San Francisco, which the NAHB ranked as the second-least affordable market.

And even if you can afford to buy a home in the Bay Area, you’ll need to take extra care when driving to meet with your real estate agent. San Francisco drivers are among the country’s worst, according to Allstate.

But if anyone can solve a city’s problems, it’s Bay Area residents. After all, the Bay Area is the fifth-smartest municipal region in the country, according to the online cognitive training company Lumosity. Maybe it’s something in the air; the air purifier manufacturer Kaz put the Bay Area at No. 15 on its list of regions with the cleanest air in the U.S. And it’s a little easier for Bay Area residents to help keep that air clean by driving electric cars. That’s because the region ranked No. 4 when it comes to electric vehicle charging stations per person on a list compiled by Xatori, a startup that builds software for connected cars.

So the Bay Area had a lot to be proud of in 2012. And local residents weren’t afraid to talk about what makes the region great, according to the dating site surveyed 2,000 members from San Francisco to reveal whether the city landed on the “naughty” or “nice” list this year. 31% percent of San Francisco admitted to being guilty of “Pride” more than 5 times a week.

That earned San Francisco the No. 9 spot on the site’s most sinful cities list.

In 2012, the Bay Area Was No. 1 (and 3 and 9) 21 December,2012

  • mikebannister

    alternate title: “here’s why top n lists are stupid”

  • I enjoyed this. 🙂

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