It's so nice to see Columbia finally get some national recognition and long-overdue accolades.
After years of watching Charleston rack up all those awards — Most Mannerly City, Greatest Tourist Destination in the Universe, Best City in the South (Especially in South Carolina) — a lot of folks in the Lowcountry have been worried that our sister city to the north might develop a case of list envy.
But now Kiplinger's, the personal finance magazine, has ranked Columbia No. 5 on its 2013 list of “10 Great Places to Live.”
Frankly, folks around here are probably surprised Columbia lost the No. 1 spot to Little Rock.
But at least it finished ahead of Ithaca, N.Y., and Morgantown, W.Va.
The judges were most kind to Columbia, noting that it benefited from having lots of hospitals, manufacturing plants and insurance companies.
Best of all, Kiplinger's judges said Columbia's location was a “big draw,” as it is “within two hours of Charlotte and Charleston.”
But folks here already knew that. Why, it's part of the motto Charleston folks long ago gave to Columbia:
“Two hours to the mountains, two hours to the beach, minutes to nowhere.”
Something to crow about
It would be petty to begrudge Columbia its moment in the sun.
Instead we should look on in pride as Kiplinger's applauds Columbia for being home to six colleges or universities.
Yes, we have that many here (well, until the School of Law goes for-profit), but it's not polite to point that out.
Instead, we should just lament that Kiplinger's failed to mention the stirring sound of a rooster crowing, which is broadcast throughout downtown on Fridays during football season.
Now that's culture.
The judges also lauded Columbia's low unemployment rate, in part because it's home to Fort Jackson and is the state capital. (Yes, it's the capital because we didn't want to be the capital anymore, but shhh!)
Now, don't get cantankerous about all those government jobs Kiplinger's raved about. Some of Columbia's economy has nothing to do with your taxes.
A lot of it is all those political consultants, think tanks and lobbying groups who put their headquarters there.
You know, the South Carolina Association of South Carolina Associations.
Better there than here.
Enjoy your moment
Next time you see friends from Columbia standing in line at Hyman's, be sure to congratulate them on this momentous occasion.
For gosh sakes, don't mention Little Rock. Simply remind them of all the lovely things Kiplinger's said about Columbia's three rivers (yes, that stream with all the rocks in it is technically a river).
The city really does have a stellar zoo and, as the magazine points out, “an art museum” and a really good place to boat.
Zip it, folks. Not everyone can live in the place where two rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean.
Of course, it's natural to be competitive with our neighbors — that's how we're raised in the South.
But let Columbia enjoy this. It so seldom gets any attention, what with being so close to the Lowcountry and Greenville.
Besides, it's not like it takes anything away from Charleston.
After all, this is a list of “10 Great Places to Live,” not “The 10 Greatest Places to Live.”
If it had been, well, we know who would have been on the list — and who wouldn't have been. But no one in the most mannerly city in America would say anything so obvious.
It wouldn't be neighborly.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to his live chat today at noon on www. postandcourier.com