BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for August 30, 2010
Bulls to DAP: Let's play two, as 2011 nostalgia game announced

Durham MSA #2 on "brainiest cities" list

Online news and features magazine The Daily Beast has re-done its list of America's smartest cities.

Last year, as we looked at here at the time, TDB decided to pump up its pageviews and hits by ranking 55 metro areas from sharpest to dullest, with the conglomeration of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and all kinds of suburban and rural areas making up "America's Smartest City."

This year, the moniker is "America's Brainiest Cities," listing twenty metros and cities that lead on concentrations of graduate/professional degrees along with a predilection for favoring total share of employment of mathematicians and scientists out of the population. 

The 2010 list is populated by Richard Florida, the creative-classist whose metrics on knowledge-economy and creative workers and jobs has tended to favor the Bull City, Chapel Hill and other areas with disproportionate numbers of highly-educated residents.

Not surprisingly, college towns do well -- including well-known places like Madison and Charlottesville and lesser-known lights like Iowa City and Fort Collins.

Major cities like Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle also placed highly.

And the Bull City and Chapel Hill combine to rank second after Boulder, Colorado, while Raleigh/Cary comes in twelfth.

(Florida just last week also called out Durham in his blog at the Atlantic Monthly, noting Durham as one of the MSAs in the country best-poised for job growth, as the Herald-Sun noted over the weekend.)

Of course, these lists always seem to get something wrong. And this year, the article cites the presence of Duke and NC State in the Durham/Chapel Hill area, and UNC in the Raleigh/Cary area as a sign of higher ed's key role in the region.

Hmm, not so brainy. 

But then again, as we said here last fall, the big purpose of these articles is to get -- well, to get folks like us here at BCR talking about the lists and sending people over to sites like The Daily Beast.

Well, I fell for it. 

Still, it's nice to be able to pat one's hometown on the metaphorical back for something like this.

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Coincidentally, Gary Kueber's Endangered Durham blog is today running a massive post the preservationist has been working on for two years detailing the history of Duke's East Campus -- and with it, the story of Trinity College's relocation to Durham in the 1890s.

It's interesting to imagine that at two different inflection points, one of the world's elite universities could have ended up elsewhere.

In the early 1890s, Kueber notes, Trinity College seemed likely to move from Randolph County to Raleigh, at what's today the home of NC State -- until Durham industrialists intervened and outbid the City of Oaks to bring Durham here. 

And more ominously in the 1920s, after J.B. Duke's plans to endow Trinity College to transform the school into a major university became known, land speculation and increased prices made the college's expansion difficult -- and might have sent the school southwesterly to Charlotte, where Duke owned 1,000 acres that could've become the home to the school.

Of course, Chapel Hill's intellectual bedrock was cemented in the 18th century with the selection of the town for what would grow into one of the nation's elite public universities.

But in many ways, the fate of the modern Durham boomlet around the knowledge economy that's thrived here rests in the availability of some undeveloped farmland that was ripe for West Campus.


Tanner Lovelace

Looks like they have confused UNC with NC State. I guess they must not be from one of the "brainy" places.

"Durham or Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home to Duke University and North Carolina State, takes second place, with neighboring Raleigh-Cary (home to the University of North Carolina) in 12th."

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