Hartford, New Haven Rank 73, 74 Among Best U.S. Cities to Retire

Even as Hartford and New Haven spend considerable time and attention directed at attracting millennials, a new national survey finds that the two Connecticut cities are ranked in the nation’s top 100 best places to retire. Hartford ranked 73rd on the list with an overall score of 6.35. New Haven came in 74th with a score of 6.33.  Among New England cities, only Boston and Springfield scored higher. U.S. News evaluated the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas based on how well they meet Americans' retirement expectations.  Perhaps not surprisingly, three Florida cities placed in the top 10.  It was Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that earned the No. 1 on the 2019 list. According to U.S. News, Lancaster moved to the No. 1 spot after placing No. 2 last year thanks to increases in housing affordability and overall happiness of its residents.

Fort Myers, Florida, moved from No. 15 to No. 2, driven by "increases in desirability and happiness scores." Last year's top place to retire — Sarasota, Florida — fell to No. 3 because of a decline in overall happiness and desirability, U.S. News reported.

Of Hartford, U.S. News said “Don't let the historic architecture fool you – even as one of the oldest metro areas in America, Hartford, Connecticut, has a lot to offer, both old and new.”  The Capitol City scored 5.3 in Housing Affordability and 8.5 in Healthcare, the two components of the overall score.

New Haven is described as “home to one of the most walkable city centers between New York City and Boston,” with “centuries-old architecture” which “houses the galleries, concert venues and coffee shops that help make New Haven the cultural capital of Connecticut.”  New Haven earned a 5.2 in Housing Affordability and 8.8 in Healthcare.

The top ranked New England city was Boston at #25.  Springfield, MA ranked #69,  Worcester was #77, and Providence was #85.  New York’s state capitol, Albany, ranked #61.

The top 10 places to retire, according to U.S. News, are: Lancaster; Fort Myers; Sarasota; Austin; Pittsburgh; Grand Rapids; Nashville; San Antonio; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Lakeland, Florida.

The rankings, according to U.S. News,  “offer a comprehensive evaluation of the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas based on how well they meet Americans' expectations for retirement, with measures including housing affordability, desirability, health care and overall happiness.” Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as U.S. News rankings of the Best Hospitals.

Three Metro Regions in CT Are Among Top 30 Most Educated in the US

Three Connecticut metropolitan areas are among the top 30 “most educated cities in America,” according to a new analysis.  The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area ranked #12 in the nation, narrowly missing the top 10.  Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford placed 22nd, and New Haven-Milford ranked 29th in the ranking developed by the financial website WalletHub. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region ranked fourth in the nation for the highest percentage of individuals who have earned Bachelor’s degrees and fifth in the percentage of “graduate or professional degree holders,” according to the analysis.  The New Haven area ranked second in the nation in the quality of universities.

Overall, the top 10 most educated cities were Ann Arbor, Washington DC, San Jose, Durham, Madison, Boston, Provo, San Francisco, Austin and Tallahassee, according to the analysis.

To identify the most and least educated cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 most populated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across two key dimensions, including “Educational Attainment” and “Quality of Education & Attainment Gap.”  Data used to create the overall ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, GreatSchools.org and U.S. News & World Report.

The Ann Arbor, MI, metro area has the highest share of bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older, 52.7 percent, which is 3.8 times higher than in Visalia-Porterville, CA, the metro area with the lowest at 13.8 percent.

Economic Policy Institute analysts point out that one way to strengthen an economy is to attract well-paying employers “by investing in education and increasing the number of well-educated workers.” In states where workers have the least schooling, for instance, the median wage is $15 an hour compared with $19 to $20 an hour in states where 40 percent or more of the working population hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

A similar study by WalletHub earlier this year, comparing states, ranked Connecticut as having the fourth highest educated state population, just behind Maryland, Massachusetts and Colorado.


Stamford Population Grows as Most Cities See Drop in Past Year

The growth in Connecticut’s population in recent years is largest in Stamford and across Fairfield County, and Stamford is gaining on New Haven, the state’s second largest city.  The U.S. Census Bureau has reported the municipalities in Connecticut that have experienced the largest increases in population last year, and over the past four years, revealing population declines in most of the state's largest cities during the past year. The municipality gaining the most people in Connecticut between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, was Stamford, whose population rose by 1,590 over the period.  Stamford was followed by Stratford, with a population increase of 502, Darien (310), Fairfield (230) and East Lyme (222). Between 2013 and 2014, Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol, and Meriden  lost population while Stamford and Norwalk  experienced growth, among the state's largest cities.

The estimated population in Stamford, the 208th largest city in the U.S., grew from 122,815 as of July 1, 2010 to 128,278 in 2014.  Bridgeport, ranked number 175 in the nation by population and Connecticut’s largest city, grew from an estimated 144,845 in 2010 to 147,612 in 2014, which was a slight drop of 174 residents, from 147,786 in 2013, according to the census estimate data.

cities CTOver the past four years, population also grew in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Danbury and Norwalk, but declined in some of the state’s other large municipalities, including Waterbury, New Britain, Meriden and West Haven.

In New Haven, the 198th largest city in the nation, the population increased from 129,890 in 2010 to 130,282 in 2014.  Connecticut’s Capitol City and the state’s 4th largest, Hartford, saw population grow narrowly from 124,314 in 2010 to 124,705 last year.  Hartford’s population is now ranked #218 in the nation.

As New Haven gained 392 residents during the past four years, Stamford gained 5,463, which narroPrintwed the gap between the two cities to 2,004.  Just four years ago, the population differential was 7,075.  Stamford passed Hartford to rank as the state’s third largest city three years ago.

Waterbury saw a population decline over the past four years, from 110,331 to 109,307.  The Brass City is the nation’s 260th most populous city.  Norwalk, the nation’s 355th largest city, saw population growth from 85,992 to 88,145 over the past four years, while Danbury, ranked number 388, experienced an increase in population, from 81,354 in 2010 to 83,784 in 2014.

New Britain, ranked number 469, also experienced a decline in population, from 73,240 to 72,878, populationaccording to the census data, while Bristol (number 591) saw a slight uptick of just under 100 residents, from 60,477 to a 60,570.  Meriden (number 597) saw population slip from 60,868 to 60,293.  West Haven, the 677th most populous city in the nation, also experienced a drop in populations, from 55,565 to 54,905.

The population estimates are based on annual population estimates since the 2010 Census and the data  includes annual estimates each July 1, through July 1, 2014.

San Jose, Calif., is now among the 10 U.S. cities with a population of 1 million or more, according to the new U.S. Census estimates.  California has three cities with 1 million or more people (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose), tying Texas (Houston, San Antonio and Dallas) for the lead among states.

New York remained the nation’s most populous city and gained 52,700 people during the year ending July 1, 2014, more than any other U.S. city.  Rounding out the top ten were Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose.  The other top 20 cities are Austin, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Columbus, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Detroit, El Paso and Seattle.

The only change in the rank order of the 15 most populous cities between 2013 and 2014 was Jacksonville, Fla., and San Francisco, each moving up one spot to 12th and 13th place, respectively, passing Indianapolis, which fell from 12th to 14th.

For the first time since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, New Orleans (384,320) returns to the list of the 50 most-populous cities this year at number 50, with Arlington, Texas, dropping off the list.

Connecticut’s is the nation’s 29th most populous state, with the population in 2014 estimated by the U.S. Census at 3,596,677, an increase from 3,574,096 in 2010.  However, the state's population  last year was less than the previous year (3,599,341 in 2013), down by 2,664 statewide, according to the U.S. Census data.

This Year, Brookfield, Cheshire, Simsbury Among Best Places to Live in America

The latest list of the best places to live in America, produced annually by Money magazine, places Sharon, MA atop the list, followed by Louisville, CO and Vienna, VA.  Three Connecticut towns made the list – Brookfield at #26, Cheshire at #39 and Simsbury at #50.

The annual published list varies from year to year because the criteria are not consistent.  A review of recent years indicates little overlap, as four Connecticut communities have made the list twice and eight others were “one and done,” not returning after a single appearance.

Overall, during the past four years, West Hartford has made the magazine’s list twice, in 2012 and 2010, as has Hamden, in 2012 and 2010, Simbest placessbury in 2013 and 2011, and Cheshire in 2013 and 2011.  Single appearances were made by Norwalk, Stamford, Portland, Tolland, Greenwich, South Windsor, Fairfield, and most recently, Brookfield.

Carmel, IN, McKinney, TX and Eden Mairie, MN and Newton MA led the list of “America’s best small cities” in 2012, with Connecticut’s Greenwich (#28), Hamden (#53), Fairfield (#64), and West Hartford (#72) earning a place on the list.

A year earlier, in 2011, the top ranked Connecticut community was Tolland at #37, followed directly by South Windsor at #38 and Simsbury at #39.  That year, Cheshire was #73 and Portland was #88, and the list was dubbed “Money’s list of America’s best small towns.”  In 2011, Louisville, CO was ranked first, followed by Milton, MA and Solon, OH.

In 2010, when Eden Prairie, MN topped the list and Newton, MA ranked third, the leading town in Connecticut among “America’s best small cities” was West static_mapHartford at #55.  The town was joined by Stamford at #78, Hamden at #87, and Norwalk at #90.

The highest ranking in recent years for a Connecticut community was Brookfield’s #26 this year, followed by Greenwich’s #28 last year.

The data for the published list is developed by Onboard Informatics, and the criteria and decision-making process is described on the CNNMoney website.

In 2013, the editors explained “we crunched the numbers in order to zero in on America's best small towns for families,” which included U.S. towns with populations of 10,000 to 50,000.   The previous year, “we looked at small cities, with populations between 50,000 and 300,000.”  In 2011, they investigated small towns, with populations between 8,500 and 50,000.  In 2010, the list was culled from a review of 800-plus U.S. cities with populations 50,000 and up.

In addition to the data compiled for the 2013 list, the magazine visited “36 towns and interviewed residents, assessed traffic, parks, and gathering places, and considered intangibles like community spirit,” according to the website.  The take-away from the visit to Brookfield, population 16,788?

“Surrounded by the largest lakes in Connecticut, Brookfield is a great spot for water recreation -- not to mention exploring lots of wooded hiking trails and open space. There are few employers right in town, so many residents commute within Fairfield County or to New York City, a 90-minute drive away.  While it is pedestrian-friendly, the town lacks a downtown. However, an area with residential and retail developments is under construction and should be completed within five years,” the website explained.

Mathematics and Transportation of Cities Draws New Research Analysis

UConn researchers have collaborated to develop a new index that will measure the sustainability of complex urban transportation systems.  The index will allow policymakers, scientists and the public to understand not just how congested cities’ transportation systems are, but the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the system as a whole.

A team of researchers in UConn’s departments of geography and civil and environmental engineering developed The Transportation Index for Sustainable Places, or TISP.  The new approach is part of the July themed issue of the journal Research in Transportation Business & Management, edited by  Carol Atkinson-Palombo, assistant professor of geography, Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Wesley Marshall, a former graduate student of Garrick’s who is now a faculty member at the University of Colorado, Denver. TISP

“Policy in developed countries and in the U.S. in particular has tended to focus on relieving congestion and has largely ignored social and environmental impacts associated with expanding freeways,” says Carol Atkinson-Palombo. “This index takes a more holistic approach, which gives a comprehensive sense of the effects of the system.”

The TISP takes into account environmental factors like land use efficiency, minimizing natural resource consumption, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Social factors are also measured, such as meeting access needs, incorporating public health and safety and maintaining a community in areas served by transportation. These factors combine with economic measures, such as affordability, self-sufficiency, and efficiency, to create a comprehensive metric, UConn Today reported.

Garrick says that many people only think about transportation in terms of traffic. These so-called congestion indices, he says, are misleading because they are not necessarily about making the city better, but simply moving cars more efficiently.

“In many cities, only 40 percenNewHavenRoute34aftert of the people commuting are in cars,” he points out. “The majority of the people aren’t affected by the congestion index, yet this is the only measure of the impact of the transportation system that is ever discussed in the media.”

Mathematics of Cities

In another initiative aimed at taking a closer look at the function of cities, the view that cities are dissimilar and disordered systems has begun to change.  Patterns have emerged within the supposed chaos, and researchers in economics, physics, complexity theory and statistical mechanics have concluded that cities, mathematically speaking, might actually be basically the same. Though strikingly different in culture and layout, cities like London and Beijing, for example, share many properties with regard to infrastructure, social interactions and productivity.

The new conclusions – decades in the making - are part of a growing field dedicated to the science of cities, Science News, the magazine of the Society for Science & The Public, reports in its most recent edition.   Roughly 75 percent of people in the developed world now live in urban environments. While much of the research is in its early days, eventually it may serve as a powerful, widely used tool for urban planners and policymakers, the publication reports.

Physicist and complex systems scientist Luís Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico has developed a theory which captures the interplay between a city’s population, its area, the properties of its infrastructure and its social connectivity. His theory suggests that city planning should not involve grand, top-down projects, but perhaps well-considered smaller ones.

The mathematical work is rooted in and reinforces the view “that cities grow from the bottom up,” says Michael Batty, who trained as an architect, planner and geographer and went on to found the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. “The diversity of life [in cities] offers greater opportunities for mixing ideas.”

The emerging mathematical theory of cities stands on four basic assumptions:

  1. Cities mix varied people together, allowing them to reach each other.
  2. Cities are networks that grow gradually and incrementally, connecting people.
  3. Human effort isn’t limitless and stays the same regardless of urban size.
  4.   Measures of the socioeconomic output of a city — things like the number of patents awarded or crime rate — are proportional to the number of social interactions.

 “In a nutshell, the city is the best way of creating a vast, open-ended social network that minimizes the cost of moving things in and around an environment,” Bettencourt says. “When people brush up against each other, that’s when the magic of the city happens — the social reactor begins to work.”

Cities Reshape Transportation Mix

At UConn, when the research team used the TISP index to look at transportation in the U.S., they found some not-so-surprising results: areas with higher rates of driving rather than public transportation have greater carbon emissions, and having more cars and highways increases traffic fatality risk.  But despite the prevailing perception, says Garceau, the researchers found that decityveloping varied transportation systems that include a combination of roads and public transportation are more cost-effective than simply building highways.

Many cities have already begun to adjust their transportation planning. Some have begun dismantling freeways that run through their downtowns to reconstruct a truly urban atmosphere. New Haven is in the midst of doing precisely that in Connecticut, eliminating the Route 34 connector and replacing it with an urban boulevard that will reconnect city neighborhoods cut off for decades.

Others cities are moving forward with light rail and bus rapid transit systems (such as CTfastrak between Hartford and New Britain, now under construction) and encouraging walking and bicycle use by building compact, mixed-use communities that focus on pedestrians rather than cars.  Garrick points to Cambridge, Mass., Portland, Ore., and New York City as U.S. cities that have taken strides toward sustainable transportation. On a smaller scale, he cites Storrs, the home of UConn’s main campus, for developing a walkable town center from scratch, and planning for greater bus access as the newly-minted downtown area unfolds.

Towns and Cities Look to Varied Housing Options, Community Engagement

Many municipalities across Connecticut and New England are finding that community engagement – proactively, thoughtfully and creatively asking their residents for their attention and ideas about proposed housing and commercial development – pays off big time. That was evident last month at UMass/Amherst when three federal agencies – HUD, EPA and DOT – along with the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities brought together experts and advocates from the region to discuss the best ways to merge affordable housing creation, transit and livable, sustainable and environmentally sound practices.

A growing number of organizations and government entities – municipal and regional – are using or promoting community engagement because the changing housing market is moving many more communities to increase their efforts at housing creation. A wider array of housing options – smaller, denser, more affordable, energy-efficient, walkable and, if possible, close to transit – are being utilized to meet the needs of empty-nesters, young professionals and families, and workers in a region that, despite a falloff in demand, has seen rental and purchase prices remain very high.video clip

The Partnership for Strong Communities highlighted community engagement strategies it promotes, including its new video about five very different Connecticut communities – Hamden, Old Saybrook, Colchester, Bristol and Simsbury – that have used an array of community engagement methods – charrettes, town meetings, websites and crowd-sourcing among them – to harvest ideas and achieve buy-in for their development plans.

The organization embarked on a search to discover how communities can balance multiple priorities and opinions, and achieve development that most residents can be satisfied with.  Partnership staff drove around the state and filmed interviews with about 30 individuals involved in this work.  The resulting video, along with supporting materials, reflects how five different communities with different goals, used different methods to achieve a single outcome.