Why Springfield is NOT a boring city, despite a recent ranking

Downtown Springfield. Ty Greenlees/Staff

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Downtown Springfield. Ty Greenlees/Staff

Editor's Note: This story first published on Jan. 5, 2018

Did you know Springfield is the most boring city in Ohio? It is, according to website Business Insider.

No, I’d never heard of the site either until the story/list was pointed out to me by Springfielder Jeff Hoppes, who caught it web surfing recently. It had the earmarks of a typical clickbait story with rankings and such — nothing new or really revealing, except it mentions Springfield.

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The list is called “The most exciting city in every state — and the most boring one you can probably skip,” pretty self-explanatory. The most exciting city, in almost every case, is the biggest, whereas most boring is the big gray area.

Here’s how the article explained it: “…Business Insider attempted to use data to definitively prove which are the most exciting and most boring cities in every state across America.

“To do that, we took counts of the number of establishments for 66 different types of businesses — like breweries, art dealers, and museums — that can make a city more ‘interesting.’ We sourced data from the Census Bureau’s 2015 County Business Patterns program and picked the metro areas with the highest and lowest count of these businesses for our interesting and boring cities.

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“For example, the New York City metro area has 62 breweries, 762 art dealers, and 305 museums, based on federal data. That ended up being the ‘most exciting’ city in New York. Elmira, the ‘most boring’ city in New York, has two breweries, zero art dealers, and four museums. Of course, this means that bigger cities tended to rank better as ‘exciting’ cities, but that is a trend for most lists of this nature.”

Wow, there’s a revelation — bigger cities have more to offer and that makes them more exciting. And is that really a trend? Also, how does this list “definitively prove” anything? That’s a pretty strong claim to make.

From there it goes by slides or a list, merely stating the most exciting and boring by only the city name and population, no real stats to back it up, just their word. Cleveland is considered the top Ohio city, by the way.

My big question is: Why use statistics based on 2015 data? Consider the things Springfield has gained since then – Mother Stewart’s Brewery, The Hatch Artist Studios, the John Legend Theater.

Sure, the really large cities have more quantity, but what about the quality? Their claims have no basis if you consider the types of places here as opposed to numbers.

How many cities have a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house? We have two performing arts organizations offering national tours and performers for a town this size. We have a symphony, when many large cities don’t have them anymore. There’s the country’s longest-running free summer arts festival. Hartman Rock Garden is always listed in the quirkiest attractions.

If there is a gallery next to a brewery on every other corner in NYC, doesn’t that just become redundant rather than exciting?

As a Springfield advocate, Rod Hatfield, who opened The Hub Gallery and moved it to The Hatch, where he also leads Hatch New Media from the facility, dismissed the claim.

“They are gravely mistaken. I’d put Springfield against any city its size with what we have,” he said.

Ann Fortescue, executive director of the Springfield Museum of Art, agreed.

“As arts leaders, we’re always challenged to find dates that don’t conflict with each other,” she said. “There’s something to do every weekend, and it’s a great problem to have.”

I reached out through email to the story’s co-authors asking to get more info about the story and why they would use data that’s nearly three years out of date. Not surprisingly I got no reply — probably too busy preparing another list.

So they can continue with their lists, and I’ll carry on writing about the many things that happen in Springfield and the surrounding area. And chances are pretty good I will never be bored.

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