Where do all the writers live, Manhattan or Missoula?

I was enjoying this NYT Opionater post from Catherine Chung until I got to this part:

It was rumored that Park Slope had the highest number of writers per capita of anywhere else in the country.

Now, I love Park Slope. But I could swear  I heard recently – maybe at last weekend’s Montana Festival of the Book? – that Montana, perhaps even Missoula, lays claim to that particular statistic. Given that I’m supposed to be line-editing my own book, a task about as enjoyable as tugging at my fingernails with pliers, I instead went in search of stats.

One reference popped up right away, in a post last month on the AdvantureTrek.com blog:

Missoula has nearly the highest number of writers per capita in the country, second only to Manhattan. Art, writing, and sculpture are visible everyone in this university town.

Only problem – no source. Besides, it gives the nod to Manhattan. (Take that, Brooklyn!) So, onward to, of all places, a Bozeman site that touts the literary draw of its windy neighbor to the east, Livingston:

Livingston and the surrounding area is home to more professional writers, per capita, than San Francisco, New York City, or any other literary Mecca you’d care to name. In this corner of Montana known for its high density of literary talent you will find novelists, science fiction writers, adventure writers, screenwriters, journalists and more.

That’s all well and good, but as Missoula Mayor John Engen recently noted in a terrific prose poem, Livingston (I’m pretty sure he called it “goddamn Livingston”) is no Missoula. Besides, once again, there’s no source.

Job-hunt.org, however, does cite a source, no less than the U.S. Labor Department. Here’s what their stats show:

The cities with the most writers per capita are Missoula (Montana), Rochester (Minnesota), and Washington (District of Columbia), while the worst cities are Allentown (Pennsylvania), El Paso (Texas), and Columbia (South Carolina).

That’s good enough for me. Far more to the point, I’ve wasted enough time that I can face the editing again. Just give me a minute to find the pliers.

Filed Under: Writers

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