Ranking

America’s Most Creative Cities: Boulder, Portland & More (PHOTOS)

The nation’s cities have become centers of the creativity that fuels economic growth in everything from science to the arts to high tech, and as homes to key modern companies like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks. See the 20 most creative metro areas in the U.S. on Richard Florida’s Creative Class index, based on his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited.

AP Photo (3); Bloomberg / Getty Images (top right)

AP Photo (3); Bloomberg / Getty Images (top right)

The nation’s cities have become centers of the creativity that fuels economic growth in everything from science to the arts to high tech, and as homes to key modern companies like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks. See the 20 most creative metro areas in the U.S. on Richard Florida’s Creative Class index, based on his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited.

John B. Carnett, Popular Science / Getty Images

1. Boulder, Colo.

With its slew of high-tech startups and innovative green companies, Boulder tops the list. Amazon also named it one of America’s “most well-read” cities in 2011.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2. San Francisco, Calif.

Home to tech startups like Instagram, a host of socially and environmentally conscious companies (it came in third on Newsweek/Daily Beast’s 2012 ranking of America’s Greenest Cities), and celebrity chefs like Tyler Florence, San Francisco certainly deserves a nod for its creative credentials.

Steven Senne / AP Photo

3. Boston, Mass.

Boston sometimes gets a bad rap for its pockets of homogeneity (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Southie), but just imagine all the higher minds and future Mark Zuckerbergs currently brewing up the Next Big Thing at Harvard and MIT. Oh, and the higher minds at Wellesley College, Boston University, Tufts, Emerson College, and Boston College.

Emile Wamsteker, Bloomberg / Getty Images

4. Seattle, Wash.

Amazon, Starbucks, and the supercomputer company Cray, Inc. were all born here. Need we say more?

Lenny Ignelzi / AP Photo

5. San Diego, Calif.

San Diego may seem like a fairly laid-back place that draws freewheeling surfers and yogis, but it’s also a hub for high-tech and biotech firms, not to mention scientists and researchers working to cure cancer and other diseases at the Salk Institute.

Tony Ding / AP Photo

6. Ann Arbor, Mich.

The university town’s small population plays a big role in its creative ranking.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

7. Corvallis, Ore.

Over the past 20 years Corvallis has placed high in a variety of city ranking categories, from “safest” to “most bicycle-friendly” and even “most creative” (No. 15 in the U.S., according to a 2004 Harvard Business Review ranking). Apparently, in the past eight years, it’s upped its creative ante even more.

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8. Durham, N.C.

Home to Duke University, one of the top universities in the country, Durham also boasts a diverse music and culture scene.

Mandel Ngan, AFP / Getty Images

9. Washington, D.C.

Members of the economically and politically savvy creative class have flocked from cities like New Orleans and Buffalo to D.C., which is considered more tolerant and diverse.

Daniel Hulshizer / AP Photo

10. Trenton, N.J.

Trenton’s plethora of pharmaceutical companies contributes to its creative ranking.

Kevin Rivoli / AP Photo

11. Ithaca, N.Y.

Although it’s below San Francisco, Corvallis, and Seattle in this ranking, Ithaca topped them all in The Daily Beast’s 2010 Brainiest Cities ranking. 

Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

12. San Jose, Calif.

Computer whizzes abound in San Jose, otherwise known as “the capital of Silicon Valley.”

Don Ryan / AP Photo

13. Portland, Ore.

If a city’s creativity level in part can be attributed to its quality of life, Portland has a lot to offer: small neighborhoods and businesses, a sense of community, a pleasant climate, and a political system that welcomes newcomers.

Stephan Savoia / AP Photo

14. Worcester, Mass.

This diverse city in central Massachusetts is ranked in Florida’s book as the second-best midsize city for young singles, which also lends itself to young creative types.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

15. Burlington, Vt.

The largest city in Vermont, Burlington has a diverse economy and a focus on green economic development that make it appealing to the growing creative class. 

Glenn Chapman, AFP / Getty Images

16. Austin, Texas

Members of the creative class account for 35 percent of the workforce in the culturally rich city of Austin, which is currently undergoing huge economic growth.

Bob Child / AP Photo

17. Hartford, Conn.

While pockets of Hartford are notorious for their high poverty and crime rates, investment firms, restaurants, and retail centers in the city’s downtown region speak to a rise in creative class.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

18. Minneapolis, Minn.

Innovation, high technology, and tolerance for racial, ethnic, and social diversity contribute to Minneapolis’s creative class ranking.

David Goldman / AP Photo

19. Atlanta, Ga.

Midtown Atlanta has attracted creatively driven young professionals with its pedestrian-friendly environment, arts scene, theater district, and diversity.

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20. Tucson, Ariz.

With the help of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO), which was established in 2005 and has worked hard to accelerate economic growth in the greater Tucson region by promoting its abundance of arts, culture, and entertainment, the city has become an increasingly popular place to live.