by Whet Moser
Forbes seems to have taken an interesting question--what makes a city stressful?--and punted. High population density is a stresser? Jane Jacobs must be rolling in her grave. The good people at Forbes should really move out to McHenry County and try driving over two hours to work every day and see how that works the nerves.
All rankings have their biases, obviously, but this one is more insidious than most, especially when it says shit that isn't actually true: "in city [sic] where everybody drives to get around...." It's heavily weighted towards sprawl, home ownership, and cheap gas as positive quality of life indicators--which, if you like that sort of thing, fine, but it wouldn't come as any surprise to people who live here, much less people who chose to move here, that given the "study" inputs the output would be the two most urban cities in America.
For what it's worth, in my experience the relationship between stress and environment is highly specific--I'd find living in Wicker Park or Bucktown stressful, but just a little bit south in West Town/East Village I find extremely pleasant. I also find it more peaceful than the comparably low-density area of Woodlawn I used to live in, because the higher density (especially commercial density) and well-maintained public spaces, like the exemplary Eckart Park, make me feel safer.
Update: "We come to the farmlands / and the undeveloped areas / and I have learned how these things work together / I see the parkway that passes through them all / and I have learned how to look at these things"
Update II: Brendan at Where had the same reaction.