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Around the Columns

In the top 10, again


Just north of the Columns and Jesse Hall, Buddy Guy performs at the second annual Roots ’N Blues ’N BBQ Festival, Oct. 3–4, 2008. The festival brought 100,000 visitors and more than 30 blues, jazz, gospel, folk, bluegrass, soul and reggae musicians to Columbia. Photo by Clay McGlaughlin

Columbia recently made the cut for two magazines' "top town" lists. You'll find it at No. 10 on Outside magazine's list, which credits towns for their fresh ideas and civic reinvention, and at No. 8 on Forbes' list, which names the nation's top college sports towns.

Get out on the town

Columbia “became a hub for higher education (downtown boasts three colleges) and insurance firms, but gained a rep as a staid, boring and straitlaced community in need of a makeover,” says writer Katie Arnold in the Outside magazine article.

Well, you can consider that makeover under way. Columbia’s updated downtown features the Warehouse Studios and Fay Street Lofts, renovated from a former meatpacking plant; a renovation to the Tiger Hotel; the continued growth of the Orr Street studio area; and burgeoning cultural activities such as the internationally acclaimed True/False documentary film festival and the relatively new Roots ’N Blues ’N BBQ Festival.

In addition, Columbia’s great outdoors will soon be more accessible than ever. In 2005, the city of Columbia received a $22 million federal grant to encourage nonmotorized forms of transportation. In January 2009, the first grant-related construction project started with bike-friendly improvements to the Stewart and Providence roads intersection.

The top 10 towns on Outside magazine’s list are:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  3. Ogden, Utah
  4. Portsmouth, N.H.
  5. Tacoma, Wash.
  6. Ithaca, N.Y.
  7. Louisville, Ky.
  8. Eureka, Calif.
  9. Crested Butte, Colo.
  10. Columbia

Cheer on the Tigers

With nationally-ranked programs in baseball, football, men's basketball, women's soccer, wrestling and gymnastics, to name a few, Missouri has become known for its intercollegiate-athletic success. The Tigers' facilities rate among the nation's best as well, thanks to a $16 million upgrade to the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex, improvements to Memorial Stadium, and the construction of Mizzou Arena and Taylor Stadium in the past decade. Plus, as the institution that invented homecoming, Mizzou knows how to host a party. An estimated 30,000 invaded Columbia for the parade in 2008.

In citing reasons for the ranking, also notes Columbia's school quality and crime rates, and low cost of living.

The top 10 towns on Forbes' list are:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Palo Alto, Calif.
  3. Madison, Wis.
  4. State College, Pa.
  5. Lexington, Ky.
  6. Fayetteville, Ark.
  7. Chapel Hill, N.C.
  8. Columbia
  9. Charlottesville, Va.
  10. Bloomington, Ind.