The Washington Post

Once again, Travel and Leisure doesn’t seem too fond of D.C.


Sunset at the Tidal Basin, just so Travel and Leisure readers don’t have to see clear images of D.C. residents. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Travel and Leisure is out with another set of rankings. And yet again, the magazine’s readers have taken a shot at D.C.

The magazine puts D.C. atop its rankings of cities with the “least attractive” people. Congratulations! Travel and Leisure’s readers, who voted for these rankings, would rather stare at a brick wall than be forced to look at any of your faces (assuming you are a D.C. resident, of course).

Travel and Leisure writes that “the locals came off as both unfriendly and not so stylish.” Call us unfriendly all you want, but not stylish? People in the District know how to dress during hurricanes. People in our suburbs make sure to color coordinate when they’re robbing a bank. People around Washington will wear prom dresses and evening gowns to go for a leisurely bike ride. We even look sharp during a winter storm.

How did the magazine come up with this assault on an entire city’s self-image? They conducted an online survey between June 1 and Sept. 1 of this year, asking people to rate 35 cities (mostly your archetypal Big U.S. Cities, though the list also includes wee Portland, Maine and Charleston, S.C.). The survey allowed for repeat voting. In other words, this non-scientific poll should mostly be used for discussion and not viewed as any sort of cold, hard evidence of anything. (In case you’re wondering, San Francisco was named the most attractive.)

But we must consider: Does Travel and Leisure (by way of its readers) have it out for D.C.? Consider the evidence.

Earlier this year, Travel and Leisure said that D.C. is one of America’s “snobbiest cities,” a title given little real explanation other than a note about the locals being unfriendly. (There’s no mention of whether these locals were just unfriendly because visitors were standing on the left, but residents and visitors alike seemed to agree about people in D.C. being unfriendly, according to the poll.) Boston, the No. 3 city on the list, was dinged for “a certain air of superiority,” while Minneapolis/St. Paul’s ranking as No. 4 was blamed on hipsters.

Last year, there was the list calling D.C. the third rudest city in the country. In 2010, D.C. was the sixth-ugliest city, so apparently Travel and Leisure readers are not fans of the people who have moved to D.C. in the past three years (or they think the good-looking people fled). The magazine is even taking shots at our bridges, saying that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is one of the scariest in the world. On this last item, Travel and Leisure may have a point.

The magazine also slotted D.C. squarely in the middle of its ranking of the most gay-friendly cities last year. That directly contradicts the New York Times, which last month called D.C. “the gayest place in America” (though we had some issues with that title).

It’s not all bad news, though. Travel and Leisure’s list does say D.C. comes out on top when it comes to museums and galleries. And we’re nowhere to be found on the list of the best cities for hipsters.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.



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