The Rushmore Report – The Ten Most Liberal and Conservative Cities in America

New York City may be less liberal than you thought. At least according to The Economist, which pulled data from an MIT study on how city governments reflect their constituents’ politics to produce a ranking of cities with populations of over 250,000. As The Economist asked, “Would people expect Washington, DC, Seattle, or Boston to finish first?” The answer is none of the above. Here’s the complete list . . .

As several articles have pointed out, the real takeaway was first called out by the PEW Research Center and then elaborated on by Vox: the most conservative cities are skewed toward being more liberal than one might expect. The how-much-wood-could-a-woodchuck-chuck way to say this is: the most conservative cities are not as conservative as the most liberal cites are liberal.

So here’s the list of the ten most liberal and the ten most conservative cities in America.

The Ten Most Conservative Cities

1. Mesa, Arizona

2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

5. Jacksonville, Florida

6. Arlington, Texas

7. Anaheim, California

8. Omaha, Nebraska

9. Tulsa, Oklahoma

10. Aurora, Colorado

The Ten Most Liberal Cities

1. San Francisco, California

2. Washington, D.C.

3. Seattle, Washington

4. Oakland, California

5. Boston, Massachusetts

6. Minneapolis, Minnesota

7. Detroit, Michigan

8. New York, New York

9. Buffalo, New York

10. Baltimore, Maryland

About the Author

Naomi Shavin is a reporter and researcher for The New Republic. Before this assignment, Naomi was a Forbes editorial intern and writer for various periodicals for Penn University.

America’s Top Ten Beaches

I love beaches. We used to live near Galveston, Texas, which boasts amazing restaurants, waves, Victorian mansions, historical sites, and the incredible seawall, built after the Great Storm of 1900. On Galveston Island you will find the most spectacular ice cream parlor ever – LaKing’s. There is no place like Galveston. But I’m biased. For a more objective view of the best beaches in America, we turn to the Travel Channel. And they have answers. Other than their oversight of Galveston, their list is hard to beat. So here you go, beach lovers. Enjoy the top ten beaches in America.

1. Manele Bay, Hawaii

Located on the island of Lana’i, this is considered one of the world’s most perfect stretches of sand. This is a mecca for snorkeling and colorful fish. You can see the rare spinner dolphin as you swim in water that hovers near 70 degrees year-round.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

This is the East Coast’s ultimate vacation hub. The town of Myrtle Beach is filled with summertime action. You will enjoy an extensive stretch of silky white sand, with abundant opportunities for fishing, swimming, sailing, and surfing. Some of America’s best golf courses are just minutes away.

3. Nantucket, Massachusetts

You will find a fairytale land in Nantucket. The blue backdrop of ocean and bay in a community full of white cottages and wild roses combine for a heavenly scene. The water is calm and you will not find a place better suited for making sandcastles.

4. Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii

Located on the Kohala Coast of the Aloha State’s Big Island, Kauna’oa Bay provides the most common pictures for postcard Hawaii. The abundant white sand, palm trees, and clear, calm blue water provide a natural draw for sun worshipers and water sports enthusiasts.

5. Clearwater Beach, Florida

Providing broad, sandy shores and beachfront hotels, Clearwater Beach showcases a narrow three-mile stretch of the Pinellas Peninsula on the Gulf Coast. The blue waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico are breathtaking. You will find dolphin-watch cruises, parasailing, and nearby aquariums and museums.

6. Coronado, California

On Central Beach, this 1.5-mile stretch is hidden behind amazing houses along Ocean Boulevard in front of the glamorous Hotel Del Coronado. This is the place for bodysurfing, boogie boards, sand sculpting, and whale watching. Dogs are welcome!

7. Cape May, New Jersey

As the farthest point south on the Shore, Cape May is the crown jewel of the region, with gorgeous beaches and a quaint town center filled with gingerbread Victorian houses and colorful bed and breakfast inns. Bring your binoculars for a view of the playful dolphins jumping in the water.

8. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

As summer approaches, crowds fill this area, but the eastern areas provide some relief. This is one of America’s true paradise locales, with soft, white sand framed by red, brown, and tan cliffs rising high above the shore.

9. East Hampton, New York

Listen to the roaring waves and pass the glorious mansions of Lily Pond as you take in one of New York’s prime destination spots. The picturesque town is a favorite with the rich and famous. Nearby is Main Beach, with more incredible mansions and great restaurants. Enjoy the locals’ favorite food – lobster rolls.

10. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Stretching for 27 miles along the Outer Banks, you will find this skinny strip of barrier islands from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island. The beach’s hallmark is the sandy dunes and nation’s tallest lighthouse, towering 196 feet and accessible by a 248-step climb. But make it to the top and a breathtaking view awaits.

America’s Top Ten Most Important People – Ever

Nothing starts a good argument like a debate over the best presidents, actors, or athletes. So let’s go all in, with a top ten list to beat all top ten lists – the top ten most important, most influential Americans – ever. I’ll begin with the ones who don’t make my totally unscientific list: Harry Truman, the Wright Brothers, Eli Whitney, Jonas Salk, Jackie Robinson, Susan B. Anthony, Thurgood Marshall, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Spock, Franklin Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Paine, Andrew Carnegie, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, John Rockefeller, James Madison, Alexander Graham Bell, Sam Walton, Noah Webster, Ben Franklin, Billy Graham, and Walt Disney. So here’s my list. May the arguments around the water coolers begin . . .

1. George Washington. He made the United States possible. He defeated a king while refusing to be one himself. He is the father of our country. Case closed.

2. Abraham Lincoln. The man saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding. We will resist the temptation to fill this list with presidents, but we had to start with Washington and Lincoln. That was easy. Now it gets tough.

3. Thomas Edison. It wasn’t just the light bulb. The Wizard of Menlo Park was the most prolific inventor in American history, credited with the phonograph, motion picture camera, and 1,093 U.S. patents.

4. Martin Luther King, Jr. His dream of racial equality is driving the national debate to this day. But no one did more to make it real. He was a Baptist minister, social activist, and preacher of the iconic speech, “I have a dream.”

5. Bill Gates. He is the Rockefeller of the Information Age, in both business and philanthropy. Worth $78.9 billion, Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975. The wealthiest man in the world is the best-known entrepreneur of the personal computer revolution.

6. Henry Ford. He gave us the assembly line in 1913, and the Model T, sparking America’s love affair with the automobile. Ford gave us large production plants and became one of the most influential men in the industrial world.

7. Mark Twain. The author of our national epic, he was the most unsentimental observer of our national life. Author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Samuel Clemens is known for his classic wit and wisdom.

8. Jonathan Edwards. Forget the fire and brimstone; his subtle eloquence made him the country’s most influential theologian. He preached the famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and played a major role in the First Great Awakening, making Edwards arguably the most influential religious leader in our history.

9. Elvis Presley. He was the king of rock and roll and the most influential musician of the 20th century, receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the old age of 36. The “king” still rules, 38 years after his death.

10. Babe Ruth. He saved America’s pastime in the wake of the Black Sox scandal – and permanently linked sports to celebrity. The “sultan of swat” may not even be the best baseball player ever (that would be Willie Mays), but he is the most iconic. To this day, Yankee Stadium is known as “The House that Ruth Built,” 80 years after he hit his last home run.

 

 

Top Ten Dangerous American Destinations

If you like to see incredible outdoor views, you picked the right country. America has hundreds of remarkable mountains, canyons, rivers, rapids, deserts, and destinations. Many are easy to take in. Others are not for the faint of heart. If you are a hiker, climber, and in great outdoor condition, you might check out our list of the ten most dangerous destinations in America. I’ve been to some of these; others, I will only read about. America the Beautiful has so much to see. This list will get you off to a good start.

1. Canyonlands National Park, Utah. If you saw the movie 127 Hours, you’ve seen Canyonlands National Park. That was the film that told the story of Aron Ralston, who famously amputated his own arm to escape a boulder. The park has ridiculously fabulous views. Beware of heat and dehydration.

2. Maroon Bells, Colorado. Set in the gorgeous Elk Mountains, this spot has earned the nickname “deadly bells” because the deceptively easy climbing can lead to tight spots and weak rocks that break away unexpectedly.

3. Denali National Park, Alaska. The views are enormous, but so are the grizzly bears. These aren’t your run of the mill bears; they mean business. The park is best seen on foot. Enjoy the camping, but keep your food sealed.

4. Yosemite National Park, California. I remember the first time I went to Yosemite, at the age of 13. The place is amazing. You can enjoy casual hikes and safe views. Beware of iconic Half Dome. It offers stunning views, but many have fallen to their deaths here.

5. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. I had the pleasure of viewing this area by car and on foot last year. Located on the Big Island, this is home to Kilauea, which still spews hot ash and lava into the sea. Follow the signs and you will get a scary, but safe peek at this still developing site.

6. Volusia County, Florida. Here, you will see great marine life. But avoid the sharks. More shark attacks have been recorded here than anywhere else in the world. But the east Florida coast and its views are awesome – just stay out of the water.

7. Grand Canyon, Arizona. This is one of America’s favorite destinations. I’ve never seen anything more impressive or expansive. Pictures don’t do it justice. But before taking the trail to the bottom, count the cost. Bring lots of water, and make sure you’re in shape for a very difficult climb back up.

8. Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Beware of wind! The highest wind gust ever recorded on Earth was recorded here – 231 mph. The hiking and views are remarkable, unlike anywhere else. The temperature at the summit has never exceeded 72 degrees, and there are risks of slipping off ridges, hypothermia, and even avalanches.

9. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. This, like Yosemite, is a safe destination. But for the best views, you will have to take the risky climb up Long’s Peak, with narrow paths, rock slides, and frequent lightning strikes.

10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho. This remains on the top of Americans’ outdoor destinations. The hiking trails, wildlife, and side roads make this an amazing place to visit. Go back a hundred times and you’ll see something new every time.

America’s Top Ten Patriotic Events in July

July 4 marks the 239th birthday of America. You will find the top ten July 4 fireworks events in the country on this site. But America is to be celebrated all month. So let’s look at some of the hidden jewels across our great land. As you travel the country, check out some of these unique and amazing events.

1. Franklin County, Virginia. Get a jump on your July 4 celebration on July 2. At the Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Virginia, the fun starts at 6:00 p.m. The night is filled with patriotic music, fireworks, and kids activities, sponsored by the local Rotary Club.

2. Key West, Florida. The most southern point of our country makes July a month to remember. Every day in July, you will find street festivals by day and an incredible light display by night. Of special note is the Hemmingway Days Festival, running throughout mid-July.

3. Cut Bank, Montana. This is the place for the annual Lewis and Clark Festival. The fun kicks off the morning of July 23 and runs for four days. As a part of the festival, you will enjoy free hot dogs, a great antique car show, and lots of patriotic music.

4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It doesn’t get any more patriot than this. Go to Gettysburg for the annual Pickett’s Charge observance. On July 24, you can follow the footsteps of the men who took part in the most famous infantry assault in American military history.

5. Boston, Massachusetts. The Civil War re-enactment takes place on July 17. Go to the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial on the Commons. The whole day is filled with an educational look at the Civil War from the perspective of multiple battles.

6. Morristown, New Jersey. July 3 marks the celebration of the place where Gen. George Washington and his troops spent two brutal winters in the fight for American independence. All events, sponsored by the Morris County Tourism Bureau, are free  to the public.

7. Hutchinson, Kansas. On July 4, celebrate in the nation’s heartland. In downtown Hutchinson, the annual Patriot’s Parade starts at 1:00 p.m. Sponsored by Eagle Radio, this event is a perfect example of small town America at its best.

8. Lemont, Illinois. The 25th Annual Heritage Fest is upon us! In downtown Lemont, the outdoor street festival provides free food, music, and tons of family fun. Historic downtown Lemont is transformed into a step back in time. The year is 1776, and the celebration is one of a kind.

9. Washington, D.C. The annual Korean War observance takes place at the Korean War Memorial. Enjoy a tour of the memorial along with the National Mall tour. Events commemorate the Korean War  and honor her veterans, from July 23-27.

America’s Top Ten Bridges

There is more to see in America than a person could possibly see in ten lifetimes. We love our mountains, monuments, and malls. We are drawn to beaches, ballparks, and bridges. Yes, I said bridges. There are thousands of them all across our nation. Many have interesting stories behind them. Many are fascinating in their beauty, construction, and length. In our continuing series on America’s Top Ten, let’s take a look at America’s top ten bridges. How many have you seen?

1. Sunshine Skyway Bridge – Tampa Bay, Florida. I’m biased, in that I cross this bridge about once a week and see it from a distance every day. I’ve never seen anything else like it. With a cable-stayed main span, it has an amazing length of 21,877 feet, or 4.1 miles. It connects St. Petersburg and Terra Ceia, passing over Hillsborough County waters. Construction began in 1982 and concluded in 1987. The bridge cost $244 million.

2. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California. Spanning the Golden Gate, this massive suspension bridge is probably the most well-known bridge in America. The structure links the city of San Francisco to Marin County. It is the recognized symbol of San Francisco, and has  been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

3. Royal Gorge Bridge – Canon City, Colorado. This is a major tourist attraction in Colorado, set within a 360-acre theme park. The bridge deck hangs 955 feet above the Arkansas River and held the record of highest bridge in the world from 1929 until 2001, when China completed the Liuguanghe Bridge. The Royal Gorge Bridge spans 1,260 feet and is 18 feet wide, with a wooden walkway that has 1292 planks. The bridge is supported by towers that are 150 feet high.

4. Contoocook Covered Railroad Bridge – New Hampshire. This is America’s greatest covered bridge, set on a former railroad line spanning the Contoocook River. It is referred to, in the National Register of Historic Places, as the Hopkinton Railroad Covered Bridge. It is the oldest extant covered railroad bridge in the United States.

5. Frankford Avenue Bridge – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as the Pennypack Creek Bridge, it was erected in 1697 in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia, and is the oldest surviving roadway bridge in the country. The three-span, 73-foot-long twin stone arch bridge carries Frankford Avenue just north of Solly Avenue, over Pennypack Creek in Pennypack Park.

6. Brooklyn Bridge – New York City. Completed in 1883, this is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a span of 1,595 feet, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903. Since its opening, it has been an icon of New York City, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

7. Devil’s Elbow Bridge – Pulaski County, Missouri. Devil’s Elbow, Missouri is one of the prettiest places on Route 66. There is great history in this part of the Ozarks. Lumberjacks would float logs down the Big Piney River, which often became overcrowded. So they built this bridge in 1923. It was rendered obsolete by the more modern US 66 bridge in 1942, but the two-span truss bridge remains an amazing attraction.

8. Mackinac Bridge – Michigan. This is the third longest suspension bridge in the world and longest in the Western Hemisphere. It’s length is an amazing 26,372 feet, or about five miles. All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. The Mackinac Bridge is built such that the deck at the center span can move  by as much as 35 feet.

9. Francis Scott Key Bridge – Washington, D.C. More commonly known as the Key Bridge, this is a six-lane reinforced concrete arch bridge taking U.S. Route 29 traffic across the Potomac River between the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia and the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Completed in 1923, it is Washington’s oldest surviving bridge across the Potomac River, with a length of 1,791 feet.

10. Claiborne Pell Bridge – Newport, Rhode Island. Commonly known as the Newport Bridge, this suspension bridge is operated by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority. It spans the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Part of RI 138, it connects the City of Newport on Aquidneck Island and the Town of Jamestown on Conanicut Island, which in turn is connected to the mainland by the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge.

America’s Top Ten Monuments

America has 112 national monuments. Each one is maintained and protected by the National Park Service. Many of these have become national symbols. These monuments vary greatly, but all have an amazing story, and are well worth your time. President Theodore Roosevelt designated the first official American monuments in 1906. As you get to know your America, these monuments are a great place to start. How many of these have you seen?

1. Lincoln Memorial – Washington, D.C. Built to honor our 16th president, it is located on the National Mall, across from the Washington Monument. President Lincoln, who led America during the Civil War, sits immortalized in marble. As an enduring symbol of freedom, the Lincoln Memorial attracts millions from around the world every year.

2. Mount Rushmore – South Dakota. A sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore is this incredible monument. Located near Keystone, South Dakota, it is visited by three million people each year. With the backdrop of the Black Hills, the monument honors four transformative presidents from our past: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

3. The Statute of Liberty – New York City. A gift from France, the statue stands as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated a National Monument in 1924, the amazing structure was restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986. Any visit to Mother Liberty should include a tour of Ellis Island.

4. Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Washington, D.C. This is one of our newer monuments, honoring U.S. service members who fought and died in the Vietnam War. It also recognizes the thousands who are still unaccounted for, and presumed dead. The monument consists of three parts: the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

5. Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine, Florida. The Spanish fort in northeast Florida served for 205 years, under four different flags. Built in 1672, it was involved in sieges with the British while under Spanish command, the American Revolution under Britain, the Civil War under the Confederacy, and the Spanish American War under the United States.

6. Mount St. Helens – Washington. This remains an active stratovolcano, located in Skamania County, 90 miles south of Seattle and 50 miles northeast of Portland. The volcano is in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanos.

7. World War II Valor in the Pacific – Hawaii, Alaska, California. This memorial honors several aspects of American engagement in World War II. It encompasses nine sites in three states, totaling 6,310 acres. It is the only great monument that is spread across an entire ocean.

8. Navajo National Monument – Arizona. Located within the northwest part of the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, this monument preserves three amazing cliff dwellings of the ancestral puebloan people. The monument sits high atop the Shonto plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation, west of Kayenta, Arizona.

9. Little Bighorn Battlefield – Montana. This monument includes the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, fought between George Custer’s 7th Calvary and the combined Lakota-Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho force. Custer National Cemetery sits nearby. The monument recognizes the bloody battle that occurred on June 25 and 26, 1876. Markers honor the Indians who fought at Little Big Horn, including Crazy Horse, in addition to markers recognizing fallen U.S. troops.

10. George Washington’s Birthplace – Virginia. Located in Westmoreland County, the area was fist settled by John Washington, George’s great-grandfather. George was born here on February 22, 1732, and lived here until age three. He returned later as a teenager. For anyone interested in how it all began, this home is a must visit.