A few months ago, Business Insider rated Charleston as the saddest place to live. It displaced last year's "winner" of Huntington, which is now number 2.
Charleston and Huntington topping this list likely indicates some kind of cultural skewing. Objective judgments of "happiness" are nearly impossible because of the variation in culture from place to place. People making up these tests can't understand the places they study. They cannot account for variables. Using criteria made up hundreds or thousands of miles away proves nothing.
So let's talk about what makes Charleston one of the most awesome cities.
Park Land: How many cities can boast of having two massive parks within easy driving distance? Coonskin Park to the north and Kanawha State Forest to the south provide residents with easy access to wilderness style leisure.
Architecture: The State Capitol building is an architectural masterpiece. Soaring marble chambers, the tallest capitol dome in the United States, brightly colored legislative chambers, and complete access to any office.
Getting Around: Four major highways converge in Charleston, giving it excellent access by road to other parts of the state and metropolitan areas in other states. Within the city, parallel four lane roads along the river speed traffic around and through town. Kanawha Boulevard, a WPA project from the 1930s, runs past some of the more beautiful old neighborhoods in town. The trees lining the thoroughfare accentuate the beauty of the river. It's a beautiful urban drive
The River: The Kanawha River flows serenely through town, narrow enough to allow bridges of a beautiful structure, broad enough for recreation. It has carved out a valley of aesthetically pleasing proportions, particularly on the east side of town.
Education: Charleston's metro area is home to West Virginia State University (a historically black college), University of Charleston, and West Virginia University Institute of Technology, as well as Marshall University Graduate College. West Virginia University has also established a branch of their medical school in town.
Charleston is striving to transition from an industrial to a digital economy while retaining the Southern charm that it has carried since its 1790s birth. It has attracted a handful of Hollywood types because of its pace of life and dearth of celebrity seeking media.