Twin Cities are two of America's top 12 cities, according to Businessweek

You're looking at not one, but two of America's top 12 cities, 2012.
You're looking at not one, but two of America's top 12 cities, 2012.

St. Paul and Minneapolis are two of America's best cities. In fact, they're even better than they were just a year ago -- especially the capital city.

-- Minnesota is the least miserable state, according to Bloomberg
-- Minnesota is the state of the future, Gallup says

This week, Businessweek released its 2012 "America's 50 Best Cities" list, and the Twin Cities each rank in the top 12. St. Paul is 10th, while Minneapolis is a not-quite-as-good 12th. Last year, Minneapolis clocked in at 30th, St. Paul at 39th.

What accounts for St. Paul's leap? Bloomberg Businessweek's explanation of the list's methodology provides some clues:

For the ranking, once again teamed up with Bloomberg Rankings to evaluate data on 100 of the country's largest cities. We looked at leisure attributes (the number of restaurants, bars, libraries, museums, professional sports teams, and park acres by population), educational attributes (public school performance, the number of colleges, and rate of graduate-degree holders), economic factors (income and unemployment), crime, and air quality. Major professional league and minor league teams, as well as U.S.-based teams belonging to international leagues in each city were included. This year we placed greater emphasis on leisure amenities than we did last year. The figures come from data company Onboard Informatics and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. As the methodology was altered, changes in a city's ranking from 2011 do not suggest that it has gotten "better" or "worse." [Yes, I disregarded this caveat in the first paragraph of this post.]

So this year's ranking include emphasis on "leisure amenities," and St. Paul somehow shoots above Minneapolis? Apparently Businessweek considers Irish pubs to be the height of relaxation.

In any event, here's what they had to say about 10th-ranked St. Paul:

St. Paul may be the smaller of the Twin Cities, but the state capital is also cleaner and safer, if slightly behind Minneapolis in median household income. St. Paul, which houses parts of the University of Minnesota campus, is known for its examples of Victorian architecture, such as the Alexander Ramsey House, and for its distinctive Cathedral of Saint Paul.

And here's Businessweek on Minneapolis:

Known as the City of Lakes, Minneapolis has some the nation's best parks and bodies of water. Add in the cold, and you get the local University of Minnesota's combined eleven ice hockey national championships. Downtown Minneapolis beats the cold with a unique network of connected buildings, with the City Center mall at its core.

Forget the Walker, Guthrie, or Target Field -- where would Minneapolis rank without the skyway and City Center mall?

Here's Businessweek's top 12 best cities list, which displays a bit of bias for coastal living.

1. San Fran
2. Seattle
3. D.C.
4. Boston
5. Portland
6. Denver
7. New York
8. Austin
9. San Diego
10. St. Paul
11. Pittsburgh
12. Mpls

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