Malden takes top honors from people who don’t seem to have ever been there

My hometown of Malden has been named the "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in Massachusetts by BusinessWeek magazine, which calls the city "racially diverse, relatively affordable, and well-connected." The "relatively affordable" requirement probably knocked most of the other cities and towns within 100 miles of Boston out of contention.

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"Gritty" is the adjective that first comes to my mind when I think of Malden — because it’s an old, crowded city and also because it has a stubborn pride tinged with resentment toward more affluent and hipper suburbs like Newton and Somerville. (I wrote about Malden’s identity crisis in CommonWealth last year.) I’m not surprised by the incredulous reaction reported by the Boston Globe today, and reflected in the online comments on both the Globe and the BusinessWeek sites. But Malden does have a lot of potential, especially if people want close-knit neighborhoods and a less car-dependent existence, and I generally liked growing up there. Then again, I was allowed to take the subway into Boston when I was 12…

(With its typical lack of class regarding the online world, the Globe does not link to the BusinessWeek story, and the Globe quotes extensively from the BusinessWeek comments page without linking to that either. But it does get a good photo of downtown Malden that’s not dominated by a FOR LEASE sign, while the BusinessWeek photo looks like it came from an advertisement for an allergy medication.)