NEW YORK (MainStreet) Portland, you are so yesterday. Williamsburg, can you say 2005?
The folks at RealtyTrac, a real estate analysis outfit, have now given us their list of the top 25 hipster havens, and, first, the surprises. Neither Portland, Oreg. nor Brooklyn's Williamsburg makes the cut, and, indeed, the only Brooklyn zip on the list is 11232, Greenwood Heights (mainly known for its Green-Wood Cemetery). The big winner: St. Paul Minnesota (55101) in first place and, indeed, Minnesota may count as the hippest state, because Minneapolis (55401) came in at #4, along with representation at #11 (55408) and #20 (55405).
No other metroplex had that kind of crushing dominance in this tally, which purports to have sorted through key metrics such as heavy concentration of a hipster age demographic (25-34) and where 20% of the population used public transit to get to work, "given that easily walkable, densely populated neighborhoods are another hallmark of hipster culture," said RealtyTrac.
Another factor: to make the cut, renters have to occupy at least half the units in a particular zipcode, because, said RealtyTrac, it did this data sifting to help would-be investors better target zipcodes with high populations of hipsters which may augur a neighborhood that is on the cusp of appreciation.
Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac spokesman, underlined that in an interview. "We are looking to identify good places for investors to invest."
"This is not a list of where the hip live," he stressed, though you probably already guessed that.
As for why no Williamsburg, it's just that the sky high prices of north Brooklyn real estate makes it very difficult to get a decent return on investment, said Blomquist, and to qualify for inclusion a town had to throw off a gross rent yield north of 4%. That would be a return most landlords in hip Brooklyn could only dream about.
As for New York City, its hippest borough, per RealtyTrac, is Queens, which is represented by Sunnyside (11104), Astoria (11102) and Woodside (11377). No Manhattan, no Bronx and of course no Staten Island on the list.
Incidentally, on the list there also is no Boston (no Cambridge, no Dorchester) and also no Los Angeles (no Venice, no Silver Lake).
There is Iowa City (52246), though, at #8.
The list is characterized by more oddities. For instance, the hippest town in New Jersey - indeed the sixth hippest nationally - is East Rutherford, which is mainly known for MetLIfe Stadium, where the NFL Giants and Jets play. NJ.com, website of New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Star Ledger, took note of East Rutherford's accolades with this observation: "East Rutherford doesn't look like a hipster town. There's no trendy café serving artisan doughnuts and witty reparte, no bicycle repair shop."
Indeed, there is not much that is obviously hip in East Rutherford.
Other journalists dispensed similar snark.
Asked if he were surprised by the high placement of Alexandria, Va. (22304 - #5 on the list), Jonathan Fischer, Washington City Paper managing editor, snarled: "No. Nothing surprises about the overuse of the word 'hipster' to the point of meaninglessness, nor does anything surprise me about these realtor rankings, each of which is somehow even less meaningful than the last."
At the Pittsburgh City Paper, editor Chris Potter gloated about his town's placement at #2 on the hip list - for zip code 15203: "Does it surprise me? No, for several reasons. In the past few years, Pittsburgh has gotten a ton of coverage of this sort ... some days you can barely walk down the street without running into a New York Times reporter looking for a new angle on Pittsburgh's comeback. And these prophecies tend to be self-reinforcing, if not self-fulfilling."
Potter elaborated that the RealtyTrac survey highlights a Pittsburgh neighborhood known as South Side - lots of college kids from Duquesne and elsewhere. It's definitely an interesting part of town - Potter personally allows to having lived there - but then Potter throws in this zinger: "I think the South Side is more like the hipster choice of several years ago. These days the real hipsters are much more likely to move to Lawrenceville."
Lawrenceville, a neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh, did not make the RealtyTrac list.
--Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet