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Vancouver Named #1 Hipster City in America

nick-miller-579Being in the “middle of nowhere” hasn’t stopped avocado toast from greening the menu at Mighty Bowl, or the people-powered party called Couve Cycle from pedaling our sloppy downtown streets from pub to brewery to tap room.

And it didn’t stop Vancouver from topping a new list of the “most hipster” cities in America.

MoveHub, a relocation-information service, analyzed the density of vital hipster services, hangouts and other relevant data for the 150 most populous American cities, and awarded the cup — make that the artisan beer mug — to our striving-yet-relaxed, awesome-yet-humble little town.

Vital hipster services like what? Microbreweries, vegan restaurants, thrift stores and tattoo studios. Vancouver ranked second in the nation in microbreweries per capita (we have 8.6 per 100,000) and fifth in tattoo parlors (5.2 per 100,000).

We also scored tops — yes, No. 1 in the whole nation — in the less-than-desirable category of annually rising rent, an unfortunate but undeniable hipster marker.

Meanwhile, our big sister to the south — you know, that city with the major hipster reputation — did pretty OK in MoveHub’s U.S. Hipster Index too, but ranked behind the Couv when it comes to breweries. Portland did rank No. 1 in vegan eateries. But it didn’t even approach the top for hipsters designing themselves via thrift stores and tattoo parlors.

Portland’s overall ranking in the U.S. Hipster Index was No. 12. Ours was numero uno. “Not that Portland’s performance is anything to sniff at,” MoveHub says, noting that the Vancouver-and-Portland zone comprises “the current U.S. hipster Mecca.”

These rankings didn’t even take pot shops, juice bars and hot yoga studios into account. Nor did they consider the possible oil-by-rail terminal that received a big thumbs-down from a state siting council Tuesday — just hours after this hipster index came out. But we’re pretty sure hipsters don’t dig oil terminals; they tend to drive hybrids, recumbent bikes and unicycles.

What’s a hipster, anyway? According to MoveHub: “A subculture of 20- to 30-somethings who position themselves as non-mainstream pioneers; free-thinkers and non-conformist conformists.”


When The Columbian posted this news on our Facebook page Tuesday, the reaction was swift and mostly sarcastic.

“They clearly didn’t go to the east side of town,” said Edee Lemonier.

“I see them occasionally, walking in threes,” said Lisa Richardson.

“Vancouver? Really? Where do they hang?” Tara Graham double-checked.

“Where are they,” wondered Stephanie Wagner, “under one of Vancouver Rocks?”

Bob Week felt differently, and we think he means it: “Portland’s too mainstream. True hipsters live in The Couve.”

Washington hip

Washington is the “most hipster” state overall, MoveHub adds, with three cities in the top 10: Vancouver, Tacoma and Spokane. No other state placed more than one city on the list.

Big cities fell conspicuously short in this exercise, MoveHub notes. Los Angeles came out 133rd, while New York City only rose to 143rd. Even San Francisco is just 61st. Conclusion: Small cities in need of creative people power are just right for hipsters.

“It seems that larger cities have their hipsterness diluted by their size” and by exorbitant rents, MoveHub says. “Big cities literally aren’t niche enough to be true hipster havens. Rightly renowned for hipster neighborhoods, they certainly don’t fit the bill as a whole.”

When this hipster index came out, The New York Post characterized our location as being in the “middle of nowhere.” We’ll happily redirect that label toward MoveHub’s officially least-hipster city in the nation: Brownsville, Texas.


Author: Scott Hewitt Columbian Arts & Features Reporter