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Tourism is a key industry for Charleston. File/Staff

OK, Charleston is not No. 1, at least on the latest study. But there are numerous other surveys that put the Holy City on the highest pedestal.

A new report by New York-based consulting firm Resonance places the city of horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets No. 4 on its list of Best Small Cities in the U.S. Up the coast, Myrtle Beach nabbed the No. 9 spot.

Small metro areas are those with populations between 200,000 and 1 million, according to the report. The Charleston region is home to about 776,000 residents as of July 1, 2017, according to the U.S. census. About 420,000 people call the Myrtle Beach area home, according to the report.

Honolulu gets the top nod, followed by Omaha, Neb., and Albuquerque, N.M. 

In the large city category — those with more than 1 million people — New York City topped the list, followed by Chicago and Los Angeles.

The study looked at 28 factors in six broad categories, including place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion. Crime, education, income and other criteria were included.

"The Holy City continues to draw pilgrims from all over the world, propelled by global travel media and the promise of legendary Southern hospitality from another time," the firm said of Charleston.

"Charleston is at once an easy, yet kinetic, seaside American treasure, punctuated by European elegance and macaroon-colored antebellum mansions by day and all kinds of revelry after sunset," Resonance said.

The report continued: "It’s the kind of place where a strong connection to the past lives in the hearts of locals — it graces the facades of homes, it is apparent in regional traditions, it punctuates the vernacular and seasons the food. Here is a city that remains defiantly indifferent to fashions, fads or trends — confident that the rest of the world will eventually catch up."

Charleston ranks No. 4 Best Small U.S. city, according to Resonance study (copy) (copy)

Carriage tours and pastel-colored historic buildings are among Charleston's many tourism draws. File

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"The city owes its reputation as an icon of Southern architecture and general intoxicating sense of place partly to the centuries-old virtue that buildings don’t have to be tall to make a bold statement," the report stated.

"They can be grandiose or candy-colored or oddly shaped and still add to the area’s charm — neatly beneath the church steeples. For the past 80 years, Charleston’s zoning rules and its Board of Architectural Review helped formalize and preserve the principle of holding new buildings to the standards set by their historic predecessors."

The report also points out the city ranks No. 2 in the "Place" category, which tracks a city’s crime rate, air quality, weather, neighborhoods and landmarks, and parks and outdoor activities.

"A beguiling fusion of the built environment and coastal transition landscapes — golden islands, channels and swamps — Charleston is one of North America’s most architecturally significant destinations," according to Resonance. "Wander the streets and you’ll catch glimpses of another time: flickering copper gas carriage lanterns, ornate hand-wrought ironwork and hitching posts used by horse-drawn carriages."

Of the Grand Strand, the report said: "Myrtle Beach is a fun house — in the water and out. ... If the weather is almost always pleasant, the business climate is even better.

Sixteen of the top 50 cities are in the South. Other areas in South Carolina to make the list include Greenville at No. 24 and Columbia at No. 37.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.