I've been to Pittsburgh, Philadephia, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Jew York City, Baltimore, Nashville, Birmingham, Miami-Ft.Lauderdale-West Palm, Jacksonville, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Charlotte, Columbia, Indianapolis, Toledo, Akron, Canton, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Wheeling, Richmond, Charleston, Atlanta, Washington, Youngstown, Toronto, LA, San Francisco, Louisville, Denver, South Bend, Santa Fe and Windsor.<quoted text>
Used to be the Wolfs and Lazarus. Not so much anymore. Les would like to lay claim, but I don't think he's there either.
I don't care about "things to do". I'm talking about everyday life, livability, every-day amenities and curb appeal. From that standpoint, here is my list.
The only cities on that list that I think are clearly better than Columbus are Toronto (which is really just a big Columbus with an international flavor), San Francisco (for obvious reasons) and maybe Denver. I wasn't impressed with Denver overall, but I understand the attraction to the mountains and the lifestyle.
I would probably add Ft.Lauderdale-West Palm due to the sheer wealth and curb appeal down there. For me, all the annoying Jews from New York would make that area unbearable. Santa Fe, NM is a niche selection, but I also loved it.
The only cities on that list which I felt were on par with Columbus are Charlotte, Charleston and maybe Fort Wayne. Charlotte has big traffic issues, a worse freeway system and more rednecks, but also a USAir Hub. Fort Wayne is very much like Columbus in my opinion, just a smaller smaller version with lots of Amish and fewer people with graduate-level and doctoral degrees. Also not as many Muirfield style communities .. but the area around the University of Saint Francis rivals Bexley ... overall very nice and clean. Fort Wayne is a gem, believe it or not.
The following cities are in the same ballpark as Columbus, except maybe being just a notch below:
-the Cleveland-Akron-Canton Suburbs
-Indianapolis - Both Nashville and Indy cities are merged with the county which is why I believe they have an icky feel to them.
-Cincinnati minus most of Kentucky (some parts of KY are nice, though)
-Tampa-St. Petersburg - Much better curb appeal, but the old areas look awful. Its still not like being here.
The following cities are clearly inferior to Columbus. Some of these are large cities and are going to have more wealth and more amenities, both overall I wasn't very impressed.
-Cleveland-Akron-Canton city limits
-Pittsburgh - nice downtown, but the bad areas are just plain bad. There's a special kind of decline you see only in Pittsburgh and Eastern Ohio that you see nowhere else in America.
-Baltimore - It's very Cleveland-esque.
-Detroit-Wayne Co.- Just plain sucks.
-Buffalo - Ditto
-Philadephia - more wealth and high-end amenities than Columbus, also more blight. I put it on par with the Cleveland Area.
-Jacksonville - Take Dayton and lump in a few of the older suburbs and move it South. Another one of those merged city-counties.
-Miami and Dade Co.- it just plain sucks.
-Columbia - unimpressed with the sunbleached nature of buildings put up in the 1970's
Big cities where people would disagree, but I would take Columbus over any of these places:
-Jew York City - In a class of its own, but I wouldn't live there.
-Chicago - Ditto. Lots of wealth and amenities there. Lots of blight, too.
-Washington - Ditto. Wealthiest metro in the USA, especially in the burbs.
-Atlanta - Lots of upscale stuff, and the 10 lanes in each direction along I-75 is impressive. But at the end of the day most of it is just ugly sprawl.
-LA - just plain sucks
Not enough information to form an opinion on Louisville, South Bend (looked kind of grungy on the wrong side of Notre Dame) and Windsor.