13. North Park, San Diego, CA
Culturally diverse North Park is home to Craftsman cottages,cafes and diners, coffee shops, several microbreweries, boutiques, and the North Park Farmers Market. The North Park Theater and the Ray Street Arts District are also bastions of creativity in the area
America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods
Want to roll out of bed and pick up a cup of single-origin java from a coffee shop on your corner? Or grab a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck parked down the street? Does a dream weekend include foraging for organic veggies at a farmers market and watching the latest hot indie band play on a small stage through the wee hours of the morning? Then, my hipster friend, Los Angeles’ Silver Lake is the neighborhood for you.
Silver Lake takes the top spot on Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods. Nestled between Echo Park and Los Feliz, the trendy community boasts some of the nation’s most lauded food trucks and farmers markets, a multicultural blend of residents with eclectic professions, and a booming arts scene. Even the buildings exude an avant garde aesthetic a hipster could love: Silver Lake is home to some of the most celebrated modernist architecture in the country, including Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House and John Lautner’s Silvertop.
“It is amazing how many artists, musicians and designers and more traditionally ‘hipster’ occupations live in Silver Lake,” says Dabney Lawless, a vice president of Nextdoor.com, a private social network for neighborhoods. “It just blows every other neighborhood away.” In other words, if you want to slurp Pabst Blue Ribbon in your skinny jeans, you won’t be alone.
Behind The Numbers
Merriam-Webster somewhat vaguely defines a “hipster” as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.” While what exactly qualifies someone as a hipster may be up for debate, to compile our list, we took a quantitative approach to determining the 20 places in which hipsterdom is most likely to flourish.
The San Francisco-based startup Nextdoor.com helped us dig through data on more than 250 neighborhoods in the biggest U.S. cities. We assessed each area’s walkability according to Walkscore.com; the number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita (with some help from NPD Group’s report); the assortment of local food trucks (and their ranking according to Zagat’s); the number and frequency of farmers markets; the selection of locally owned bars and restaurants; and the percentage of residents who work in artistic occupations. We also factored in Nextdoor’s Neighborhood “Hipness” Index, which is based on how often words associated with hipness (for example art, gallery, designer, musician) appeared on each Nextdoor neighborhood’s site pages, and Nextdoor conducted a survey in which members sounded off on their communities.
Silver Lake is followed closely in second place by another Golden State hotspot, San Francisco’s Mission District. The city’s oldest neighborhood boasts a bevy of mom-and-pop eateries and watering holes, thrift shops and galleries. And artists here like to leave their mark: the Mission has the highest concentration of street murals in the city, according to the San Francisco Travel Association. Lawless notes that rents are lower in the Mission than many other city neighborhoods, making it “a great neighborhood for young trendsetters.”
In third place is the unofficial East Coast birthplace of hipsterism, Williamsburg. The Brooklyn enclave has it all: coffee shops, food trucks, nightlife, farmers markets, restaurants, boutiques and a gaggle of artsy residents sporting Keds sneakers and idiosyncratic tattoos.
Williamsburg may have spawned the hipster craze, but the neighborhood is evolving in a direction that’s far less hospitable to the patchily employed, fedora-wearing crowd. “The more successful neighborhoods like Williamsburg become in attracting people, the real estate prices go up and a lot of the urban pioneers end up moving on,” says David Morley, a research associate with the American Planning Association, a nonprofit educational group for community developers.
Real estate prices in the north Brooklyn neighborhood have been steadily rising, says Justin Daly, a Williamsburg-based realtor with MNS. His firm reports that Williamsburg rents in July were 23% higher than a year ago. More interesting, as of June, the mean rent for a studio apartment in Williamsburg was $200 higher than for a comparable (albeit smaller) apartment in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, according to the firm’s research. It has led to a slight exodus of artists and a new influx of families.
Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District, which has been undergoing urban renewal since the 1990s, has a similar migration tale to tell. The neighborhood, currently hosting MTV’s latest edition of “The Real World,” is No. 5 on our list thanks to its intense caffeination (it has the second-highest concentration of coffee shops of any neighborhood on our list), a flourishing foodie culture that includes the Portland Farmers Market, and a colorful collection of art spaces. As gentrification progresses, some hipsters are fleeing the rising costs of new high-rise condos and warehouse-to-loft conversions for the less established (and less pricey) Mississippi Ave and the Alberta Arts District neighborhoods. (Probably the MTV reality show doesn’t help either.)
In fourth place on our list is Chicago’s Wicker Park. Morley, a Wicker Park resident himself, touts its easy transit access, range of housing types, variety of shopping and services, and lively streetscape that affords a high degree of social interaction. “I love being able to do my shopping in the neighborhood and being able to see lots of people in the streets.”
9/20/2012 @ 8:50AM via Morgan Brennan, Forbes Staff