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D.C., when measured by some distinctly uncool barometers, had a banner year for cool in 2014. Just look at the New Yorker for proof. Destination DC—the nonprofit that markets the city for tourism and big conventions—tried to capitalize on hip attractions to lure in young, wealthy tourists with a campaign called DC Cool. Throughout the year, the nonprofit ran advertisements in glossy national magazines to convey that D.C. is more than just boring monuments. The full-page ads, under the official DC Cool banner, featured a diverse group of trendy people dancing and laughing in establishments like Le Diplomate and Eighteenth Street Lounge. The holiday version of the ad campaign featured a good-looking family walking with shopping bags on a Georgetown sidewalk with the tagline “City sidewalks. Unexpected treasures. Georgetown charm.” Sidewalks are cool, right?
Forbes magazine, at least, thinks so. In August, the business publication anointed D.C. the coolest city in America in 2014, to the joy of municipal boosters. “Flooded with politicos and political junkies, Washington D.C., often comes off as a city steeped in raw ambition,” Forbes’ explanation read. “But the nation’s capital deserves to be known for something else: coolness.” Maybe in 2015, we won’t need the ad campaign anymore.