No matter how completely far-fetched, how completely absurd they are, no matter how arbitrarily and/or weirdly pulled together, I am a complete and utter sucker for any list.
It pretty much doesn’t matter what of.
Ten Best Donut Shops. Best Places to Retire. Snobbiest Cities in the US. (Go, Naperville!) One Hundred Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time. Fifty Experiences Everyone Should Have by the Time They’re Fifty. The Books You Need to Have Read if You Want to Consider Yourself Literate. Most Important New Words of the Last Decade.
Naturally, I prefer those list that reinforce any positive opinions I may hold of myself and the place where I live.
So I glommed right on to the silly Thrillest list: The 10 most Beautiful Neighborhoods in America, Ranked.
Now, having grown up in a neighborhood that would never have made anyone’s listicle of most beautiful, I understand that some neighborhood faces are prettier than others.
But to pretend that there is actually a ranking of beautiful neighborhoods?
Even if, as it happens, my very neighborhood won the beauty contest.
Between the red brick sidewalks, the classic Georgian architecture, and the gaslights casting their amber glow down the narrow streets, this gorgeous colonial 'hood stands out from the rest of Beantown like a... well, like the most beautiful neighborhood in America. The row houses on Beacon Street overlook the fields of Boston Common (the oldest park in the country), and the whole neighborhood is equally beautiful in winter and summer. Hell, even the birdhouses are beautiful!
Beacon Hill's filled with little streets and avenues that lend the area a distinctly European atmosphere, and striding down the mossy cobblestones of Acorn Street feels like traveling back in time to the founding of the nation -- until you see someone taking as selfie with an iPad. And in that case, well, you can't totally hate; iPads are so convenient.
It is, of course, true that Beacon Hill is very pretty, very charming, very interesting in ways that, say, Main South Worcester just plain aren’t.
But is it the absolute most beautiful?
And “equally beautiful in winter and summer”????
Sure, if you’re gazing out at the Public Garden (winter or summer). But if you’re trying to walk down Charles Street when half the blocks are yellow-taped off to prevent you from getting hit in the head by a fifty-pound ice heave, and when the snow piles are black with exhaust and yellow with dog pee???
And I like that “striding down the mossy cobblestones of Acorn Street.”
Trust me: no one “strides” on Acorn Street.
Cobblestones just aren’t made for striding.
They’re made for creeping, mincing, crawling.
But never, ever striding. Unless you don’t mind cracking your skull on those cobblestones, and find yourself in the ER of Mass General Hospital (one of the the Best Hospitals in the World, by the way).
Anyway, however gratifying it is to live in the country’s most beautiful neighborhood, I do have the good sense to recognize that this designation is a total crock.
Beautiful? Without a doubt.
Most beautiful? Really…
By the way, the first runner up – if Beacon Hill is unable to fulfill its duties for whatever reason, New York City’s Central Park West Historic District is first runner-up.
See the full list for yourself here.