What was once considered the murder capital of the country is now the best city to raise a family.
Parenting magazine just ranked Washington, D.C. as the ideal city for child rearing, citing the metropolitan area’s “history…government…breathtaking architecture and inspiring monuments.”
The nation’s capital, known for its broad range of museums, also has an exciting airport.
“If your kid enjoys visiting the National Air and Space Museum, imagine fostering his love of airplanes with trips to nearby Gravelly Point Park for front-seat views of the takeoffs and landings at Reagan National Airport,” writes Sara Vigneri.
Washington offers more than just chains like the Cheesecake Factory and Maggiano’s, too. Though more sanitized than California and New York City, D.C. has its fair share of eclectic mom and pop eateries.
“Family dinner nights are easy at quirky local favorites like Matchbox restaurants or Busboys & Poets—both provide a place adults and kids can enjoy,” Vigneri writes.
Catherine Connors, an award-winning parenting blogger, told The Daily Caller that D.C.’s stimulating environment is a big draw for raising kids. Connors, who is in the process of relocating with her family to New York City, said she’d move to D.C. if the opportunity presented itself.
“Yeah, I’d have gone there, too, and raised my kids there happily, for the same reasons that I’ll be happy to do it in NYC – it’s a rich cultural environment, it’s stimulating, there are great resources for kids and families, etc.,” Connors told TheDC.
Patrick Fagan of the Family Research Center told TheDC that Washington is wonderful for wealthy and middle class households, but detrimental for less fortunate families.
“I’m sure [Parenting magazine] has good reasons for putting D.C. at the top of the list, but for poor kids, the city is probably one of the worst places to grow up,” Fagan told TheDC. “Marriage among the poor and the lower socioeconomic is really extraordinarily low.”
Fagan explained to TheDC that most D.C. children don’t reside with both parents.
“Only sixteen percent of kids are living with both parents intact, which means 84 percent are not,” Fagan said.
According to a 2010 Washington Times article, nearly half of the district’s children are obese or overweight. Washington schools tried to combat the issue by adding 60 extra minutes of exercise at school every day, and first lady Michelle Obama attempted to alleviate the problem with her “Let’s Move!” anti-obesity program. Last month, Obama visited D.C.’s Alice Deal Middle School, where she participated in a dance-off in an effort to promote healthy eating and exercising habits.
D.C. police officials have worked to lose the tourist hot spot’s reputation as a dangerous place. In 2006, the New York Times reported that killings had decreased since the 1990s.
“In 1990, when Washington, D.C., was called the murder capitol of the country, the city had 472 homicides, while last year there were around 200,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Times. “Expectations from the public and police departments are much higher now, so reactions are stronger to sudden increases, but I think this has to be kept in perspective.”
D.C. public education has always struggled as well. According to the Washington Post, the “system is among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation.” The same report found that 62 percent of poor fourth-graders in the district lacked basic mathematics skills, much higher than the national average of thirty-three percent.