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Suburbs with a difference: Yes, some are 'enlightened'

Critics of suburbs have called them bland, monocultural, and insular. Though some may fit the "selfish and soulless" stereotype, the Utne Reader, a digest of independent ideas and alternative culture, has identified what it calls "enlightened" suburbs – ones that are rich in "civic spirit and livability." These communities range from affluent Montgomery County, Md., a leader in antisprawl development, and Shaker Heights, a 1920s garden suburb of Cleveland that has adopted pro-integration policies, to Suisun City, Calif., a once rough-and-tumble San Francisco Bay Area suburb that has transformed its downtown with two new plazas, a town hall, and a revitalized waterfront. Utne's picks for the 10 most enlightened North American suburbs, with the cities or metropolitan areas they're geographically linked to:

  • 1. Montgomery County, Md. (Washington, D.C.)
  • 2. Tempe, Ariz. (Phoenix)
  • 3. Suisun City, Calif. (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • 4. Shaker Heights, Ohio (Cleveland)
  • 5. Royal Oak, Mich. (Detroit)
  • 6. Hammond/Whiting/Gary, Ind. (Chicago)
  • 7. Burlingame/San Mateo, Calif. (Bay Area)
  • 8. Delray Beach, Fla. (Palm Beach/West Palm Beach)
  • 9. Markham, Ontario (Toronto)
  • 10. Naperville, Ill. (Chicago)
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