America's Smartest People
Find out which U.S. city has the most intelligent people—and the least.
Now in its fifth year, the survey—which was open to the online voting public this past
summer—covers 30 U.S. cities and was expanded this year to include even more urban areas,
such as Cleveland, Providence, and St. Louis. Its
“People” category consistently ranks as the most talked about, with voters weighing in
on such topics as what U.S. city has the most attractive
people (Miami) or the least (Philadelphia). Not surprisingly, the question of which city is
home to the country’s smartest people has
also sparked discussion.
Some may credit the weather—for keeping people indoors with their noses in books—for
the high IQs of Twin Cities residents, but the heady city is full of clues: top-ranked Macalester
and seven other colleges; the Utne Reader and beloved independent Common Good Books; Minnesota
Public Radio and the smart radio stylings of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home
Companion; the revered Guthrie Theater; and a local culture that prides itself on being in the
know—and knowing it all.
“The enormity of artistic and cultural opportunity paired with outdoor activity make the
Minnie-apple a standout city,” says Annie W. Mathisen, a 35-year-old attorney who was born in
Minneapolis-St. Paul and then returned as an adult because of the area’s high quality of
life. “We can boast having inventive minds, from Lucent to Prince. I think Minneapolis
fosters an environment where intelligence is valued and constantly fed—no matter what your
mind is hungry for,” she says.
But there are other intellectual hotbeds, too. The freethinking bastion of San Francisco—home to
countless high-tech companies and Internet entrepreneurs—ranks among the survey’s top
10 smartest cities. Washingtonians are no
dummies, either. With a diverse population and an army of cunning politicians, our nation’s
capital gets high marks for smarts.
Other cities, however, are the class clowns to the straight A students above. Orlando, for example, may be home
to the most magical place on earth, but survey-takers voted their residents’ intelligence a
bit less mesmerizing. Dallas, too, ended up
toward the bottom of the intelligence list.
Sure, smart people live all over the United States, but maybe some cities really do have more
collective brainpower than others. Read on to see the results.