Despite laying claim to the best pizza, burgers and donuts on the East Coast, the Elm City ranked seventh in a poll of Connecticut’s most miserable cities.
RoadSnacks, an “infotainment” website that critiques cities across the country using data analytics, ranked 100 Connecticut cities based on their level of unhappiness in a report released Nov. 29. Nick James, the RoadSnacks analyst who compiled the report, said his calculations were based on eight criteria: average commute times, employment rates, cost of living, crime rates, number of sunny days per year, percentage of married couples, percentage of homeowners and percentage of residents with a college degree. Although Bridgeport stole the show with its first-place ranking, the data — collected from sources as wide-ranging as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Twitter — placed New Haven within the top 10, alongside Hartford and Waterbury, which were ranked second and fifth, respectively. Unsurprisingly, members of the New Haven community contest the city’s inclusion in the ranking.
“[The ranking] is really tongue-in-cheek, [with] some facts and some fiction,” said Barbara Malmberg, marketing director for the Greater New Haven Convention and Visitor Bureau. “It’s more like what you would say to someone in a bar on a Friday night.”
Malmberg said she doubts RoadSnacks’ ranking will dim touristic interest in New Haven. She added that the criteria used to rank cities are misleading and unscientific because it does not consider New Haven’s demographics. As a college town with a large transient population, there will inevitably be a low percentage of married couples and homeowners, she said.
But New Haven’s performance in other areas is harder to defend. Despite having a population of just 129,895 people, New Haven had more than 6,000 property crimes and 16 homicides in 2013, the year with the most up-to-date FBI crime data.
Chaihyun Kim ’19, who grew up in nearby Westport, said she has always been aware of the high crime rates in New Haven and the stigma associated with living in the city.
“There is such a big socioeconomic difference between neighboring towns in Connecticut,” she said.
Kim expressed reservations about how much RoadSnacks’ ranking reflects the actual living experience of New Haven residents.
Though measures like unemployment and crime rates are likely to make life more difficult for people, Kim said, criteria such as marriage rates and the number of sunny days are unlikely to have a strong effect on happiness.
But Malmberg said Yale’s presence in the city has softened the impact of the fluctuating tourism industry across Connecticut.
“I think the fact that it looks like Hogwarts has some appeal,” she said.
James, who is no stranger to scrutiny from residents of the cities he ranks on his website, said his article has not received much of a response from readers. He did acknowledge that the bulk of the complaints he gets about his rankings stem from the fact that he does not and has never lived in many of these cities he ranks.
Weston was named the happiest city in Connecticut.