'What Is Special About My Town' Continues: Tupelo, Salida, Lincoln

A fresh installment in our series of reader suggestions

We continue to highlight the best responses to our question of where to travel for American Futures. Today, readers tell us about towns in Mississippi, Colorado, and Nebraska. 

The image above is a screenshot of the interactive map you will find on our Geoblog. Green dots represent the cities discussed today; blue dots are previously featured cities, and red dots illustrate the hundreds of other suggestions from readers. 

Tupelo, MS (2010 population: 34,546)
Tupelo is a Mississippi rarity—fairly progressive with a rich past that's surprisingly lacking in racial conflict. It's a pretty place in the northeastern part of the state. Its downtown is sort of gentrifying and is, if not thriving, at least hanging in there. At the same time, Tupelo is fighting the typical battle of white middle-class flight to the surrounding smaller towns. Despite that, there's a pace and style of life to the place that draws people in and holds them there.
Salida, CO (2010 population: 5,236)
Salida's an old railroad and mill town that is successfully transitioning into a center for arts and crafts. Its old Victorian-era downtown is being restored as many of the previously vacant and derelict buildings now house galleries, shops, bookstores, restaurants and bars, many of which have apartments on the upper floors. An old utility plant on the river has been turned into a performing arts facility. There's a local independent radio station (KHEN) with much local volunteer programming. The Cirrus can enjoy Harriet Alexander Field on the west side of town. 
Lincoln, NE (2010 population: 258,379)
The city surprises me with its increasing diversity, just drive down 27th street and marvel at the wide variety of ethnic foods available in this capital of corn. This is a booming, vibrant city. Plus if you've never been to the Nebraska state capital building, do so; its a gorgeous art deco masterpiece filled with mosaics and murals. Puts every other state capital building to shame.
Is Lincoln utopia? I've just moved back after attending college here 8 years ago and it's so much cooler than I remember: art, music, bicycles, organic veggies, other queer people. It's recently been named to a number of lists like "happiest and healthiest city in America." I'm normally skeptical of those kinds of ratings, but I believe it could actually be true in this case. I moved here and instantly had job offers with a $20,000 income increase. It's almost eerie how much better life is here.

It's also not as white as you'd think. I heard recently that 7% or 8% of the Lincoln population are immigrants/refugees. Now that's interesting.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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