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Newton "Best Places to Live" ranking not exactly on the (CNN)Money

Posted by Ralph Ranalli July 16, 2008 12:29 PM

Newtonites can be justifiably proud of their city's recent lofty rankings in CNNMoney.com's 2008 "Best Places to Live" survey, but they may need to take the honors with a grain of salt.

According to the annual survey, Newton is the most desirable place to live in Massachusetts and the 49th best place to live in the entire US. But how much could CNNMoney know about Newton if the editors think that the Newton Police Department is headquartered in a church in Newton Corner?

In the Newton page for the online version of the survey, CNNMoney ran this photo with the caption "The Police Station of Newton." The photo credit reads: "Courtesy: City of Newton"

(CNNMoney online image)

Whoops. Actually, that's an old picture of the Newton Corner Worship Center, an innovative religious space that offers worship and office space to fledgling religious communities until they can afford a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque of their own. (For more information, see Globe West Bureau Chief Erica Noonan's excellent story on the worship center.)

This is a picture of the building taken yesterday.

(Globe staff photo by Ralph Ranalli)

This is Newton Police Headquarters in West Newton.

(Globe staff photo by Ralph Ranalli)

The rest of CNN/Money's Garden City sales pitch wasn't all that convincing either. While the editors included a cautionary note about high housing prices, there was no mention of the fact that Newton consistently ranks as one of the safest cities of its size in the US. As amenities, the piece mentioned a couple of city-run seasonal concert series, but omitted the fact that Newton is home to not one but two (count 'em) critically acclaimed symphony orchestras.

In fairness, they did get the city's village character right, however, noting that: "Instead of one main downtown, Newton has six to seven downtown areas, making shopping and eating out easy for everyone."

Jeremy Solomon, the spokesman for Mayor David B. Cohen and the person who usually handles such things, said today that he didn't know where CNNMoney got the photo. But, he added, it's the thought that counts.

"We appreciate the appropriate recognition of the city as one of the best places to live in the country," he said.

-- Ralph Ranalli

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