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A Search for America's Merriest Cities (Inspired By Dr. Seuss)

Introducing the Grinch Conversion Index. Where in the United States is Whoville?

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

It's not every day that we here at Cities turn to fiction to guide data analysis. But in light of the holidays, we turn to our guest expert, Dr. Seuss, for inspiration, and look at the top American places where Whoville and its Grinch just might play the beloved tale out in real life.

In a recent report [PDF], my colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute rated and ranked the metros primed for "converting the Grinch," or, in other words, real-life Whovilles with demographic characteristics that could turn even the strongest-willed holiday-merriment-haters into jolly good fellows.

To create the "Grinch Conversion Index," my MPI colleagues considered seven key community characteristics, based of course on elements of the story:

  • Population density: "greater amount of merry people within an area"
  • Costume rental stores per capita: "the Grinch can get his Santa disguise"
  • Selected retail outlets per capita: "more presents for the Grinch to steal and eventually return"
  • Meat markets per capita: "for the roast beast"
  • Musicians, singers, music directors, and composers per capita: "to first annoy, then touch the Grinch's heart with singing"
  • Night-time light: "to draw the Grinch's attention"
  • Hospitals per capita: "for the Grinch when his heart grows 'three sizes that day' "

Taking these factors into account, the MPI researchers mapped the data, below. The darker the green, the higher the metro ranks on the Index and the more likely that a "Grinch" living in that metro would be converted to love Christmas.

Map by MPI's Zara Matheson

The top 10 metros are indicated with red hearts, and Trenton, New Jersey, takes top spot for the most likely to convert a Grinch. Most of the top 10 are clustered in the northeastern part of the United States.

Top 10 Metros on the Grinch Conversion Index
Rank Metro Grinch Index
1 Trenton, NJ 0.79
2 Buffalo, NY 0.78
3 Poughkeepsie, NY 0.76
3 Pittsburgh, PA 0.76
5 New York, NY 0.75
5 Cleveland, OH 0.75
7 New Orleans, LA 0.74
7 Detroit, MI 0.74
7 Sandusky, OH 0.74
7 Appleton, WI 0.74


In addition to determining places where Cindy Lou Who would most want to live, we also looked at places most dissimilar to Whoville. Below, the bottom 10 places on the Index.

Bottom 10 Metros on the Grinch Conversion Index
Rank Metro Grinch Index
1 Yuma, AZ 0.06
2 Greeley, CO 0.12
3 Fairbanks, AK 0.15
3 Las Cruces, NM 0.15
5 Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA 0.18
6 Anchorage, AK 0.20
7 Boise City-Nampa, ID 0.21
7 Albuquerque, NM 0.21
7 Pine Bluff, AR 0.21
7 Hanford-Corcoran, CA 0.21


Of the 361 metros, Yuma, Arizona, is the least likely to convert a Grinch. So any Christmas-haters living in that metro probably will stay that way. To that, we say: bah, humbug.

Top image: Actor Patrick Page performs as The Grinch with cast members from the Broadway production during the "Broadway's Back" event in New York on Nov. 30, 2007. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

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