Is D.C. Snobby?
July 13, 2013

Is D.C. Snobby?

There seems to be some controversy around the answer to this question.

Travel and Leisure magazine recently published a list of the snobbiest cities in the US, and Washington, D.C. ranked #9, according to their readers. The most snobby thing about the city seems to be the locals who “ranked as some of the unfriendliest in the nation.”

Now, I’ll be honest with you, this list confuses me. The cities listed have maybe one thing each it is being called snobby for, and then the magazine gives you a plethora of good things about the city. For example, for D.C. they say it is #1 city for “free things to do.” So, why insult them with the “snobby” title?

Who else is on this insulting list?  Gosh, I’m glad you asked. Here is the “top” ten snobbiest cities, according to Travel and Leisure readers.

10. Charleston, SC

9. Washington, D.C.

8. Providence, RI

7. Chicago, IL

6. (they skipped this number in favor of a #5 tie)

5. Seattle, WA

5. Santa Fe, NM

4. Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN

3. Boston, MA

2. New York City, NY

1. San Francisco, CA

Now, I have visited many of these cities, most notably Charleston, D.C., Providence, Santa Fe, Boston, and NYC. I have friends who live in Seattle and San Francisco. I totally disagree with this list. Of course, there are snobby locals anywhere, but when I visited these cities I was welcomed with open arms. I’ve never heard one snotty “tourist” comment in them, or been treated badly because I was there. I have had those experiences in other places, usually small towns though.

I’m not the only one who thinks this list is bogus. Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post had a few things to say about her city’s listing. First, she concedes there might be a little truth to it, but not much.

“So, okay, they have a point — anyone who has stumbled into a Georgetown boutique or browsed a local listserv can testify that the area has more than its fair share of the moneyed and pretentious.”

Dewey cites the article as mentioning the “power broker meals” in the Rasika West End; then she knocks down their reasoning. “This is, for the record, the same Rasika West End where at least half a dozen entrees run under $14. The Post’s Tom Sietsema told readers in January that you can waltz in for dinner in business casual clothes. Hardly the height of pretension, right?”

Anyone else feel a Marc Antony speech coming on?  “But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honorable man.”

Ms. Dewey continues her deconstruction of the ranking by attacking the “unscientific” methods of data collection – namely reader responses to questions such as “the best time to visit and whether residents have ‘charming local accents.’” Yes, because I decide if a city is snobby by accents that the locals can neither help nor hear. NOT.

Then, she has a little to say about the idea that the locals are unfriendly.

“Visitors consistently ranked D.C. as one of the less friendly cities on the list — an impression they formed, undoubtedly, while touring our free museums, watching our free concerts and movie screenings, drinking at our competitively priced happy hours, and clogging our mass transit. (Okay, NOW we may get unfriendly.)” You tell ‘em, Caitlin!

I spent four years living relatively close to D.C. Close enough that my husband at the time worked there, and we went into the city many, many times to take part in the National Book Festival, go to the National Zoo, visit Arlington National Cemetery and tour all those wonderful free museums. There is something for everyone in D.C., so if that makes them snobby, so be it. Snob on, Washington.

Image Credit: Orhan Cam / Shutterstock

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