Favorable statistics helped Galesburg get recognized as one of the top 20 best small cities in America. But why do people really enjoy living here?
In case you missed it, Galesburg ranks as the 18th Best Small City to Live in America, according to a Census Data Report carried out by consumer finance startup, Pheabs.com. The report analyzed numerous variables including household incomes, poverty levels, hours worked per week and average home values — all key priorities for families and those looking to enjoy a great quality of life in a small city.
This data was used to create a cumulative score which resulted in Galesburg, scoring 73, making it the 18th highest ranked best small city in America.
Reaction to the news was mixed. Chatter on The Register-Mail’s Facebook page was predictably all over the place. Many were proud, and wanted to promote the feat, while others — many others — literally laughed it off.
Here are the emoji reactions to the story on our Facebook page:
164 laughing faces
147 thumbs ups
8 surprised faces
The comments read:
“What a joke!”
“A little late for April fools!”
“This had got to be a lie!”
And those are the mild ones.
But like Facebook commenter Chris T. said, “Funny everyone wants to talk crap about living here but they are still here.”
“It is extremely positive for the community, and I hope we can exploit it,” said Adam Vitale, president of G&M Distributors. “Sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize the good we have in front of us.”
The Register-Mail sought the opinions of 11 community stakeholders and asked the following question:
What are your 3 favorite things about living in Galesburg?
- Everything is so close. Living in Galesburg saves me multiple days that I would otherwise lose to commuting.
- The diversity of people. Though a small city, Galesburg has people from so many different walks of life, traditions, languages, and cultures!
- Potential. The city has a rich history and the potential to become a leading community on so many fronts— renewable energy, urban agriculture, race relations, community policing, youth engagement, downtown revitalization, etc.
- The central location! I love that Galesburg is only a 1-3ish hour drive to MANY major cities in the midwest.
- It’s big enough to still have lots to do, but small enough that you can really make a positive impact and participate in the things that are important to you.
- The people! As a newbie everyone is so friendly and interested in connecting you with someone else in town. We’ve made some wonderful relationships here!
- The feeling of a small town with the advantages of a larger city: Galesburg is a place where you almost always see someone you know when out and about, and we also have terrific social organizations and cultural activities, including events at The Orpheum Theatre, the Galesburg Community Art Center, historical landmarks such as Old Main on the Knox Campus which was the site of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Carl Sandburg’s birthplace, Galesburg Railroad Days, National Stearman Fly-in, Great Balloon Race, First Fridays (we are sponsoring this week!), and much, much, more.
- The people here in Galesburg: We are hard working, caring, friendly, and welcoming, and a unique mix of families who have been here for generations and those of us who have moved here more recently to make Galesburg our home, and who share the same commitment to making Galesburg the best small city to live, work, and build a future.
- The entrepreneurial spirit: We have so many locally owned restaurants from La Cantanita to Craft, The Beanhive to Innkeepers, 156 East to Iron Spike Brewing Company and so many more, as well as boutique shops, retailers and service providers, and we work together with community partners who care deeply about our shared future, such as Carl Sandburg College, the Galesburg Community Foundation, the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development, local educational and business leaders, philanthropists, and government officials.
- I love that Galesburg still has a small-town feel. People are generally friendly and willing to take care of each other.
- I love the fact that I can get or do anything I need in Galesburg and still get from one side of town to the other in less than 10 minutes.
- I love our downtown. The downtown stores and shops are unique and wonderful. The small business owners downtown make the atmosphere a wonderful place to be.
Anthony Law III
- Galesburg has a diverse and lengthy history. From its founding in 1837 by abolitionists and the Underground Railroad to the Boxcar Families and now our Internationally born community members Galesburg IS Diversity.
- Galesburg is resilient. We have experienced things that have destroyed other communities and have found a way to reinvent and survive.
- Galesburg is fluid enough that when someone chooses to make it better they have to power to do so and if ALL of us chose to make it better … it would be for ALL of us.
- The region’s outdoor recreation opportunities are great: biking, hiking, kayaking, Snake Den Hollow, Lake Storey, Lake Bracken, etc.
- Home prices are affordable/attainable and the general cost of living here is much lower compared to larger urban centers.
- We have a very well-developed and diverse arts/cultural scene for a community our size.
- Variety of Businesses: While I have always admired entrepreneurs myself, the pandemic really brought a sense of “spend where you live” and, yes, we survived buying local right here in our own backyard very easily from a multitude of shops.
- Neighborly Vibe: Galesburg is big enough to have what you need and small enough where you see friendly faces as you wave at folks on Main Street.
- The People: I know there are “the people” elsewhere but there is something special about those people who give time, talent, and efforts to make a place they call home even better — Galesburg shines bright in this department as it’s absolutely the people who do the good making a positive impact.
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Bradley A. Nolden
- Opportunity for immediate impact — There are non-profits and community organizations that welcome new volunteers and leaders.
- Arts — Great live music, art shows and tons of theatre options available.
- Food/Drink — Craft, Landmark, the Vault and so many other great options.
- Galesburg has a true sense of community. After living other places on the east and west coasts, I finally understood and appreciated the sense of community Galesburg offers. It is different. Living in Galesburg, you get to know your neighbors and other community members. The barriers of demographics are less important, and it is more welcoming.
- One person can make an impact. This is evidenced throughout our community. Whether it is a little library in someone’s yard, a community column in the newspaper, or a non-profit a person may have started, Galesburg has taught me that one person can have a massive impact on another’s life. We have the right ingredients to make this happen. Not every town does.
- Galesburg punches above its weight class. We have more cultural activities to offer than most cities our size and many larger cities. Many years ago a family friend was visiting for the first time. Driving by the Orpheum, I mentioned, “This is where our symphony plays.” She said laughing, “That’s funny. There is no way.” When she discovered it wasn’t a joke, the friend was even more impressed with the community. We also have an incredible amount of great independent restaurants. This gives our community a uniqueness that most other communities do not offer. Our parks and public spaces are another thing that are a favorite thing of mine.
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Congolese-born, work at home mom
- Galesburg is safe for everyone: I have never faced racism since I lived here.
- Housing cost very affordable compared to other cities.
- Free program for family (ROE 33, family literacy).
(I arrived here from New York to follow my fiancé who left Boston because of high living cost. We got married in Galesburg and have two boys.)
Scott and Melany Baldwin
- Resilient,kind, giving people. Survivors who have become thrivers.
- Proximity to anything your heart desires, including two centers of higher education. We’re in the center of a diverse vortex of multicultural understanding.
- Arts, symphonic and live music, multiple live venue theaters.
What are your 3 favorite things about living in Galesburg? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may share more responses.