NYC will not be defined, tamed or contained. Here’s why it outperformed all other cities in the Resonance Consultancy ranking for America’s Best Cities in 2017.

By Chris Fair

The designation as “The City That Never Sleeps” has long referred to this kingdom of human ingenuity’s nocturnal pursuits. Today, it encapsulates the unshackled ambition of pushing the limits of what’s possible in an urban context while stewarding a place for future generations.

It’s in this openness, human friction, density and contrast that the potential of urbanism—and the human spirit—is unleashed.

Not surprisingly, then, New York finished first in our Prosperity category, ahead of the tech titans in San Jose, led by its #1 ranking for Fortune 500 Companies.America's Best Cities video

1) WEALTH FUELS CREATIVITY

But as befits this city’s century-old friction between capitalism and creativity, New York the financial wealth magnet also swept the top spots in our Programming category. Chalk one up for Fearless Girl.

This year, 40 new Broadway shows are launching—the most in three decades. New York storytellers Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld are doing residencies all year, the former at Madison Square Garden, the latter at the Beacon Theater, just because they can.

While the city trailed Chicago in our Product category, it topped the Museum sub-category. Helping its cause this year is the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first Biennial in its dramatic new location. The iconic venue doubled its exhibition space two years ago when it relocated to Chelsea, ballooning its visitation numbers as well.

2) FOOD TOWN, USA

New York’s #1 Culinary ranking speaks to how the city has always been a food town, as indicated by the fact that 77 of its restaurants boast one, two or three Michelin stars. Earlier this year, Eleven Madison Park was named best restaurant in the world by the global authority on such matters, becoming the first U.S. room to grab the honor since 2004. The difference between culinary lineage of old and today? Starred restaurants are tucked relatively off the map, in Bushwick (Faro), Harlem (Sushi Inoue) and Williamsburg (Aska).

3) LOVED BY TENS OF MILLIONS—EVERY YEAR

This sprawling, crammed theater of big money and big dreams is why this place keeps smashing visitor numbers—a record 60.3 million arrived in 2016, including 12.7 million from outside the U.S.—and why smitten visitors keep feeding the legend of New York in their own words. As such, the city also swept our Promotions category, powered by the most TripAdvisor Reviews, Google Searches and Facebook Check-ins of anywhere in the country. Not surprisingly, the city also surfaced the most Google results in the nation.

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4) OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE 

Despite a political environment that seems to challenge its open-for-business pitch and adherence to a heritage as a place of sanctuary, New York is going all in on welcoming the world, reciprocating the love it has received globally since that dark September day in 2001.

“New York City has ducked out from under the American flag before and we may have to do it again,” Fred Dixon, CEO of tourism and marketing organization NYC & Company, told Resonance recently. “But this isn’t entirely tied to the recent U.S. election. With the rise of cities, we are reverting to ancient times with the organization of the city-state.”

The city certainly offers more to do than most countries, mostly reachable by its expanding public transit system—an attraction unto itself. This summer, the cost of a subway ride also gets you above ground and on the East River courtesy of the new 18-ferry NYC fleet, complete with bike racks and free Wi-Fi, with service to Red Hook and the emerging Rockaways.

5) IT. JUST. KEEPS. BUILDING

If you haven’t heard of Hudson Yards, you soon will. The mini-city on the West Side along the Hudson River is Manhattan’s largest development since the 1930s construction of the Rockefeller Center. Built on a 28-acre platform over 30 active train tracks, it is by far the largest private real estate development in the country’s history, at $25 billion upon build-out in 2025. More important, it will yield 4,000 residences, 100 shops, parks, a playground and new gallery space—much-needed breathing room in a city that has visitors and residents taking deep breaths just to keep up.

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