Travel Editor’s Blog Is San Francisco the snobbiest city in U.S.?
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Travel Editor’s Blog Is San Francisco the snobbiest city in U.S.?

July 11, 2013     Published Time : 03:50:04

By Jim Byers
Readers of Travel + Leisure says San Francisco has snobbiest folks in America.

I had to laugh when I saw a Travel + Leisure magazine story rating U.S. cities on how “snobby” they are. Mostly because it struck a chord.

Number one on the snobby scale, according to magazine readers, was San Francisco, arguably one of the most popular cities to visit on earth. Which is probably why the folks there are such snobs.

I mean, San Francisco almost always tops the list of favourite cities given its incredible geography, mostly nice weather, great food and ethnic neighourhoods. Having grown up in the East Bay area of San Francisco, I can tell you Toronto’s SOB’s (South of Bloor’s) have nothing on San Francisco folks, who look down their noses at anyone from across the bay or, God forbid, from San Jose.

Even folks in the East Bay are snobs, although about the Bay Area in general. I grew up in a semi-rural part of the East Bay, a town of about 35,000 (at the time) called Castro Valley. I loved it; there was a main street where we’d drive around on a Friday night with the top down like in American Graffiti. There were beautiful rolling hills around with shady canyons and small and large lakes to explore. But the charms of San Francisco were only a half hour away.

A lot of my parents friends lived in towns like Hayward or San Leandro, often in older subdivisions with shopping centres all around. Not exactly Queen and Ossington, if you get my drift. Yet when I graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), I was greeted with shocked looks.

“You’re going to go to school in LOS ANGELES? There’s nothing there.”Hmmm, I thought to myself, checking out my critics. You live on a cul-de-sac and drive ten minutes to Safeway and have a freeway a block from your yard and you’re going to dump on L.A.?

Anyway, I went and I loved it. And then, after graduating, returned back to the San Francisco area before heading to Toronto.There’s a reason San Francisco folks are snobby, but it’s not an endearing quality. Just as the hipsters who live on Queen West get on my nerves when they talk about my living in the sticks, way up here at Yonge and Lawrence. Mind you, friends who live in the far suburbs look at me like I’m crazy and say things like, “Wow, you live RIGHT DOWNTOWN!”

Toronto would almost certainly get rated the snobbiest city in Canada if you did a poll. The only possible competition, I’d think, would be Vancouver. But everyone else in this country of ours is so darn friendly that I just can’t see much competition.

Anyway, back to the Travel + Leisure U.S. survey. Finishing second, and again no surprise, was New York City, followed by Boston. And I can understand the Boston snobby bit, too, at least from a baseball standpoint. A buddy of mine who covered the Blue Jays back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s tells the story of being in the press box in Toronto in a game where they Jays were hosting the Boston Red Sox. The Jays made an interesting play of some kind, perhaps a squeeze play or a defensive shift of some kind, and the Star’s beat writer made an observation.“Hey,” said a voice from the visiting Boston media section. “You Toronto guys are learning something about the game.”It was all he could do to not turn around and slug the guy.

Anyway, following Boston was Minneapolis/St. Paul (huh?), then a tie between Santa Fe and Seattle, followed by Chicago, Providence Rhode Island (huh, part two), Washington D.C., Charleston South Carolina, Portland Oregon, Savannah Georgia and Nashville.The folks down in Nashville got their knickers in a knot over this the other day. They also pointed out that earlier this year they’d been named the friendliest city in the U.S.

The Travel + Leisure ratings were based on traditional “staples of snobbery” including a city’s reputation for aloof and smarty-pants residents, high-end shopping and highbrow cultural offerings like classical music and theatre. They also considered 21st century definitions of elitism such as tech-savviness, artisanal coffeehouses and eco-consciousness.

God, no, not artisanal coffeehouses!

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