Top 10 most walkable U.S. cities

With a few exceptions, walkability in the United States isn't great. That might be changing.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

There isn't a company that has done more to promote walking as a legitimate form of transportation in the United States than Walk Score, since it first launched in 2007. That's especially true in the real estate world where the words "walk score" in home and apartment listings are as ubiquitous as caps lock on Craigslist.

If you're not familiar with Walk Score, the company uses a unique algorithm to analyze the proximity of 10 million addresses, via walking routes, to neighborhood amenities in 2,500 cities and 10,000 neighborhoods. Based on how close an address is to a variety of amenities -- grocery stores, restaurants, shops, etc. -- it is given a score out of 100.

Walk Score also ranks cities on their overall walkability. Here's the latest top 10:

  1. New York (87.6)
  2. San Francisco (83.9)
  3. Boston (79.5)
  4. Philadelphia (76.5)
  5. Miami (75.6)
  6. Chicago (74.8)
  7. Washington, D.C. (74.1)
  8. Seattle (70.8)
  9. Oakland (68.5)
  10. Baltimore (66.2)

The most striking aspect of this list is how much disparity there is between the top cities, which are considered a "walker's paradise," and the cities at the bottom, considered only "somewhat walkable." Many cities in the U.S. highly lack walkable neighborhoods.

What does it matter that U.S. cities generally aren't very walkable? It's not just about being healthy (though that is a very important part). According to research from Urban Land Institute, homes located in neighborhoods that are considered walkable are worth $34,000 more, on average. And when the economy goes sour these neighborhoods tend to hold their value more than homes in car-dependent neighborhoods.

The trend is moving away from car-dominated cities, at least if you look at preferences of the younger generation. Among Millennials, Walk Score says, 70 percent consider walkability as an "important or vital" aspect to consider when deciding where to live. One-third said they would pay more to live in a walkable neighborhood.

With that in mind, expect to see more cities looking to climb the Walk Score rankings. If you're one of those cities, here are some good things to keep in mind when making that transition.

Photo: Flickr/Brandon Watts

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