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Chicago Among Smartest Cities in Nation

By Paul Tooher

Carl Sandburg called Chicago “The city of broad shoulders.” But today, Chicagoland can also be called the city of big brains.

According to Credit Donkey, the online site that covers credit card and lifestyle issues, Chicago ranks as the seventh-smartest city in the United States.

To create its ranking, the site looked at the percentage of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher, the number of Mensa chapters in the state, the number of library card holders per capita and the number of property crimes per capita. Mensa is an international organization for people who score in the top 2 percent of the general population on IQ tests.

According to Credit Donkey, 34.4 percent of Chicago’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 26 percent of people in the average metropolitan statistical area.

By that measure, Crystal Lake is even smarter, with 40 percent of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 92 percent of Crystal Lake residents have a high school diploma.

The site also noted that there are five Mensa chapters in Illinois, and that the Windy City boasts one of the largest municipal libraries in the nation.

Credit Donkey ranks San Jose, Calif., as the smartest city in the nation, with 45.7 percent of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The site notes that, “With some of the world's most revolutionary technical change emanating from this town, San Jose attracts and retains some of this country’s greatest brains.”

With Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next door in Cambridge, Mass., Boston ranks as the second-smartest city in the country, followed by San Diego, Calif.

Raleigh, N.C., in the heart of the Research Triangle, ranked fourth, just ahead of Los Angeles and Denver.

Rochester, N.Y., Philadelphia, and Richmond, Va., round out the site’s top-10 list.

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