News & Politics

Forbes Says Washington Is the Coolest City in America

Yeah, that Forbes.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

On Tuesday, Forbes stunned the internet with a breathless review of Push for Pizza, a new smartphone app developed by a bunch of pizza-craving 19-year-olds for whom Seamless requires too many clicks. By reducing a pizza order to a single tap, Forbes concluded, these kids had built an “Uber for pizza.” Could there be more glowing praise for an app, or really anything that humankind has created?

This preceding paragraph is an example of what we call “burying the lede,” but it feels warranted in this case because logic demands that we first establish Forbes, your rich uncle’s favorite magazine, as the supreme arbiter of “cool,” and what could be cooler than discovering the “Uber for pizza”? That’s, like, the coolest company and the coolest food. And here, we arrive at our dilemma.

Push for Pizza, sadly, does not work in Washington. Entering a District address into the must-have app is returned with a message stating, “DC is is not a valid state.”

That’s a harsh but true assessment of DC’s status among the rest of the United States, but it exposes a larger problem: If Washington is ineligible to enjoy Push for Pizza, how, then can Forbes claim that Washington is the coolest city in the country? Because that’s exactly what Forbes, a website that churns out sloppy kisses to tech startups and arbitrary rankings of geographic subdivisions, is doing today.

Not so cool now, are we? Screenshot via Push for Pizza.

Yes, according to Forbes, Washington is cooler than New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and all those other places that seem much hipper and more desirable than the nation’s capital. But how did Forbes arrive at this conclusion?

Washington’s designation as the coolest city, it appears, is the bizarre accident of an equation combining several arbitrarily selected metrics, including entertainment options, a “foodie” factor measuring ratio of locally owned eateries to chains, net population growth, and demographic makeup, with an emphasis on the all-important group of people between 20 and 34 years old commonly referred to as millennials. When all the numbers were crunched, Washington landed on top. In attempting to turn “cool” into an objective measurement, Forbes wound up placing Washington ahead of many places that are widely considered to be subjectively cooler, including second-place Seattle and 11th-place New York. The last time Forbes did this list, in 2012, Houston was the coolest. (It sank to fourth place today.)

And how are cool Washingtonians reacting to their new cultural supremacy?

It seems we can’t believe it, or we’re just too cool for school. Then again, no amount cultural resources or proliferation of millennials will compensate for the deepest flaw in Forbes’s assignation of what is or is not cool: Washington still doesn’t have Push for Pizza.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.