Every now and then, Scranton makes a list of “Worst Places to (Live, Work, Raise Kids, Buy a Home, Retire, Whatever).” Local reaction is generally split into two camps: Those offended by any outside criticism of the city and those who don’t think the criticism was harsh enough.
The slow news day specialists at U.S. News & World Report pitched both teams a curve ball last week by ranking Scranton 98th in its annual “125 Best Places to Live in the USA” list. The Electric City is sandwiched between Youngstown, Ohio, and Daytona Beach, Florida. Six other Pennsylvania cities made the list, including Harrisburg (44), Pittsburgh (50), Reading (84), York (87), Allentown (93) and Philadelphia (102).
I learned about the list when a colleague emailed me a column by Mark Lane of the The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Lamenting his coastal community’s low ranking, Lane punched up:
“OK, being 99th in a field of 125 isn’t worth getting up a group chant. It’s down five places from last year’s list. And sheesh, we’re one place below Scranton, Pennsylvania. Obviously, the compilers of this list have not visited Scranton, a former coal town best known for being home to a fictional paper company, Dunder Mifflin. The city government there has been teetering on bankruptcy since 2012 but seems to be slowly pulling out.’
Lane doesn’t say whether he’s ever been here. I doubt it. His description of Our Stiff Neck of the Woods screams Google. I read a bunch of stuff about Daytona Beach today. None of it put my toes in the sand. General rule of thumb: Don’t mock a place until you’ve been there.The internet makes every place local.
Read Lane’s column here. Take special note of his parting shot.
“When you can’t beat Scranton in the listings, that’s not good.”
Life’s a beach.