Melissa Wylie / Assigning Editor
Denton’s artistic, active residents earned the city a spot on livability.com’s recent national list, Top 100 Best Places to Live.
Denton ranked No. 55 based on features such as social capital, education and housing. Plano, the only other city in Texas listed, came in at No. 86.
To assemble the inaugural Top 100 list, livability.com partnered with think-tank Martin Prosperity Institute and research provider Ipsos Public Affairs to analyze a combination of public and private data from small to mid-sized cities.
“It is an entirely data-driven process,” livability.com editor Matt Carmichael said. “It would be impractical to visit every city and create a lot of availability for bias.”
The measured data spanned across eight pillars of livability: economics, healthcare, housing, social and civic capital, education, amenities, demographics and infrastructure. The results were released in October, with Palo Alto, Calif., taking first place.
Denton ranked highest in education and social and civic capital, meaning the city has a high number of involved and educated community members.
Kim Phillips, vice president of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the creative vibrancy and intelligent investments of community members gives Denton a “strong sense of place.”
Phillips said the DCVB developed the Denton Independent Original brand in January 2012 and the recent ranking reinforces the city’s image.
“Having a brand to market with is of utmost importance,” Phillips said. “Our community is so in touch with our creative side.”
The city of Denton funds the Center for the Visual Arts, operated by the Greater Denton Arts Council. Jennifer Harlan is a building attendant at the Center and previously worked as an exhibition coordinator.
Harlan said residents are fortunate to live in a community that allocates funding and support to the arts, but that many may not be aware of what is offered.
“There are a lot of opportunities in the arts in Denton. Sometimes I feel like people don’t necessarily take advantage of them,” Harlan said. “We’re really working and striving to reach to the younger generations and students.”
Harlan said Denton’s strengths lie in the music and theater scenes, as well as in other traditional arts.
“It’s a very creative community, and we’re fortunate,” Harlan said. “I think it benefits us all.”
Philosophy junior Austin Cecil has lived in Denton for more than a year and said he appreciates the artistic elements of the city as well as the relaxed attitude of residents.
“Here, you can sit at the Square and paint or play drums or play the guitar and no one really bats an eye,” Cecil said. “They walk by, see what you’re doing, smile and keep going.”
Phillips said livability does not solely develop from creativity, but from the combination of the engagement of people and their resources.
“You can’t really separate any one thing,” Phillips said. “All of that comes together to create a quality of life that is unique, and I think that alone attracts people.”
Phillips said Denton County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country and maintaining a sense of identity in spite of future population rise will be a challenge.
“We need to manage that growth and not let it manage us,” Philips said.
View audio/visual slideshow here.
Feature photo: The historic downtown square in Denton, Tx. Photo courtesy of discoveringdenton.com