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Livability.com has named Evanston a Top 10 Best Downtown, 2016. “Evanston is growing and thriving, offering expanded housing options, rising population, affordability, diversity and around-the-clock entertainment,” says Livability.

To pick the best downtowns, Livability started with the data on more than 2,000 small to mid-sized cities. Using figures provided by Esri, the Census Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture and other sources, it looked for places with low vacancy rates, new development and an influx of people into those spaces. Livability says it looked for cultural attractions and nightlife that draw people into the heart of their cities. Finally, it added in factors that it typically includes in all of its lists, including the city’s Walk Score and measures of affordability and diversity. It also included population parameters to ensure it identified places with more than just a quaint Main Street.

After crunching the numbers to create a list of more than 200 downtown areas, Livability’s editors whittled it down to the top 10 based on its research, experiences and the desire to create a list that’s diverse in terms of geography and size of the cities. The resulting list therefore is a combination of art and science.

“Having a great downtown is about more than just great stores, and great restaurants. A great downtown needs people,” said Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability.com. “Great cities need great spaces to gather. These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents.”

Livability says about Evanston, “Downtown Evanston is thriving, taking full advantage of demographic, cultural and planning trends. As today’s 20-somethings have rediscovered the joys of walkable urban living, Evanston has added mixed-use and residential buildings in the heart of the Sherman Avenue commercial district, creating a place for Northwestern’s students and other young singles and couples to live beyond graduation – taking full advantage of the public transit lines connecting this northern suburb to downtown Chicago. The added density has allowed a nightlife culture to flourish with a new mix of chain and independent bars and restaurants.”

The other downtowns on the list are: Aexandria, VA; Santa Monica, CA; Greenville, SC; Bellevue, WA; Pittsburgh, PA; Boise, ID;Tempe, AZ;Plano, TX; and Colorado Springs, CO.