San Francisco 3rd Most Creative City in the World


Business magazine Fast Company just posted their “Fast Cities 2009: The 13 Most Creative Cities in the World” feature, and our very own San Francisco made the list at 3rd place. Again with the 3rd place? I’ll take it, that’s twice we’ve made the top 3 in two different lists, the only city to do so! Slightly different from the “Top 29: Best Cities to Live In” feature that did recently, the Fast Company list ranked cities based on their creativeness to “bring our communities–and country–back to prosperity.” This includes smarts, foresight, social consciousness, and creative ferment. Hit the jump to see how San Francisco stacked against other notable cities around the world. 

The singular initiative that vaulted San Francisco into the top 3 was the Bank on San Francisco public-private partnership formed by the city and several financial organizations. It gives citizens access to bank accounts and financial education, when they normally wouldn’t be able to open an account elsewhere.

When the pilot launched in September 2006, there were 50,000 unbanked households in the city. After two years, 25,000 of them had signed up for accounts. One reason many people hadn’t had checking accounts is they lacked U.S. ID cards. Now, 17 participating banks accept Mexican and Guatemalan IDs. 

This is a great initiative that provides a safe place for the many immigrants we have to keep their money. In December, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to expand this program statewide, which would definitely help out the large Mexican immigrant population in Southern California.

Seattle was the city that came out on top, and deservedly so. Over the past 5 years, Seattle has been ranked the as America’s most literate city. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a creative hub, though. What does set it apart from the pack is it’s lead in medical research, which is home to some of the world’s top medical brain trusts. These include the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, the University of Washington Medical Center, and the Bastyr University Research Institute. See, Grey’s Anatomy is real!

Coming in 2nd place was Cleveland. What? Have you seen the Cleveland Tourism videos? Check these out first, then decide for yourself.

Doesn’t that just scream creativity? All jokes aside, it does sort of make sense. If your city is in that much of a wreck, any sort of creative foresight to improve it would look like a Godsend. Such is the case with the Reimagining a More Sustainable Cleveland Initiative, which is funded by the city and the Surdna Foundation.

…a plan to create acres of tree nurseries, oases of native plants, and community gardens with bees and chickens..It’s meant to boost property values and community spirit in neighborhoods plagued by vacant lots and condemned buildings.

Other notable world cities that made the list include:

  • 5th place: Taipei for their “zero landfill, total recycling” plan
  • 6th place: New Orleans for their post-Katrina recovery plans that have unleashed a new generation of social entrepreneurs
  • 9th place: Chicago (which placed 1st in the list) for its Smart Card program that expands public transportation to use of public cars
  • 13th place: New York for creating the most successful local counterterrorism unit in the U.S. and perhaps the world.

During a time when the economy is in the toilet and pigs are wiping humans off the face of the planet, it’s nice to see that there are people out there really trying to make a difference in this world. The saying “Think global, act local” applies perfectly to these cities for leading the way in creating a better place to live for generations to come.

To see the full Top 13 list, see the slideshow at


One Response to “San Francisco 3rd Most Creative City in the World”

  1. LMFAO at those Cleveland videos!

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