MIDDLETON, Wis. -- A small town in the shadow of Madison has its own reason to boast.
Money magazine on Monday declared that Middleton is the "Best Place to Live" in America for 2007.
The magazine picked Middleton because it's a tight-knit community and close to the cultural and economic benefits of Madison. The state capital is roughly 14 times larger than Middleton. It was named by Money as the best place to live in 1998.
With a population of just more than 17,000, Middleton was praised by Money for its small-town charm, booming economy and extensive parks and bike trails. Money said that many of its residents commute the seven miles to Madison for work but enjoy the amenities that a smaller town brings.
Middleton is home to Capital Brewery and its expansive beer garden where patrons are encouraged to pack a picnic and stay to watch movies or listen to a band.
The American Girl dollmaker is one of Middleton's largest employers.
Many residents said on Monday that the magazine ranking just confirms what they've known for a long time. The city finished seventh in the magazine's ranking in 2005.
The city's pedestrian-friendly and beautifully laid out downtown was just one of the city's assets that got the attention of the magazine.
Those in the business of drawing people to the community credit visionary city leadership.
"The leaders in the '60s and '70s saw fit to include a large commercial component in the city," said Val Steel, the city's tourism director.
"Some things that we have drawn probably because of the welcoming nature of Middleton and the hotels and the schools and the industry are some restaurants and some businesses you don't normally find in towns of 17,000-18,000," said Steel
The magazine did find a couple of drawbacks. The staff said that Middleton doesn't have much ethnic diversity and described the winters as "tough."
The magazine looked at 2,876 places with populations between 7,500 and 50,000. The magazine's focus was on smaller communities, with a population of less than 50,000. The magazine said that it looked for the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community. Ethnic diversity, home prices and property taxes were also a factor, WISC-TV reported.
According to the magazine, Wisconsin is home to four of the best small cities to live. In addition to Middleton, the other cities are all Milwaukee suburbs, including Germantown, ranking 30th; New Berlin, ranking 41st; and Franklin Rounds, ranking 90th, WISC-TV reported.