This is the front of the city hall in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Money Magazine’s “Best Place to Live” in 2010.
Rather, this is the entrance to the massive parking lot that surrounds the city hall. There’s no town square, no park, and not a single business within walking distance of city hall. There’s only one sidewalk to access city hall by foot, on one side of the street (and in the picture, the sidewalk is blocked with a “sidewalk closed” sign further up the road at the corner). It sits next to a rentention pond that appears to have been created to collect the runoff for the huge parking lot. The building is a low-rise, two-story building that appears to be the length of about three football fields. The building has no true front door, but rather several entrances that keep its citizens from having to traverse an entire parking lot just to get in.
Money stated in its description of Eden Prairie that it “doesn’t have much of a downtown.” That’s a lie; it literally has no downtown at all. The entire town is made up of suburban sprawl, office parks, strip malls, and a big hulking indoor retail monstrosity known as Eden Prairie Plaza surrounded by acres of parking without a tree in sight. There is no sense of place in Eden Prairie. How, then, can it be one of the best places to live?
Obviously, there’s also no prairie in Eden Prairie. Isn’t this part of a joke? It’s like when someone says that developers of sprawl cut down trees and then name streets after them.
To be fair, much more walkable cities like Newton, MA and Fort Collins, CO also cracked the top ten. But if this anti-social, obesity-inducing, sprawl-choking town is what Money thinks is the best place to live in the United States, Money has a really warped sense of what makes a place great.