Scenery, weather, the downtown area and its location placed Windsor into a select category as one of the best places to live in the United States.
So says a retired geography and civics teacher from Winter Haven, Fla.
Chuck Anderson, 73, has spend the past 50 years researching and traveling to towns and cities across the country, and he recently compiled “In Search of Eden — America’s Best Small Cities.”
Anderson, who taught in Longmont and Loveland and lived in Berthoud for four years in the 1970s, put together a list of the top 100 towns/cities in America with populations of less than 45,000.
Anderson made Windsor No. 11 on his list.
“Windsor’s a lovely town. You have a very attractive downtown, and of course a lot of reasons I picked Windsor is its location,” said Anderson in a telephone interview. “The fact that Windsor is climatically in a very good spot, and the winters are mild ... you get as much sunshine as we do here in Winter Haven in the wintertime. The summers are nice, and if they get a little too hot, you can go up in the mountains and throw a snowball.”
Anderson said driving west out of Windsor on Colo. 392 and seeing the views of the mountains is beautiful.
“Those mountains look amazing. There are so many layers of foothills you can see,” he said. “It’s a very beautiful spot. Being 11 out of thousands of towns is quite amazing. It’s just an amazing place to be.”
Windsor Mayor John Vázquez was pleased to hear the news.
“We don’t have any control over the 300 days of sunshine and the scenery that we’re blessed with as far as our location, but I think everybody would agree that we have some of the finest schools,” Vázquez said. “I think it’s a testament to the community that we have a quality of life that’s being recognized. We have a safe community that’s being recognized. I think it’s an honor, and it’s awesome that Windsor gets put on the list that prestigious and that high.”
Thirty-seven years ago, Anderson said the Saturday Evening Post and three other major magazines offered to publish the top-60 list he compiled, but he decided that he needed more time to travel and research his choices. Anderson originally planned to put the list in a book. Instead, he’s going to put his findings on the Internet in the future.
“The joke in our family and among my friends is that anytime I go from Point A to Point B, it takes me four days to get there instead of two because I’m always doing a dogleg or weaving in and out to try and see as many cities as I can,” Anderson said. “I do as much research as I can ahead of time.”
Anderson said he believes the top 100 list he put together is the best ever compiled. An undergraduate degree in geography from Michigan State University, and graduate study work at Kansas State University have given Anderson an advantage in compiling the list, he said.
“In 50 years, it’s been my hobby and the thing I’ve been most interested in for all of that time period,” said Anderson, who worked on the project by himself. “If I got repaid $1 million for the time, hours and expertise I put into it, I don’t think it would pay me back, and I don’t expect to ever get a penny back from it. Right now, it makes me happy that I’m able to get that information to the people in these towns.”
Windsor, with a population of about 20,000, and the other towns and cities on the list had to meet Anderson’s criteria that included: downtown area, setting, weather, identity and population patterns, accessibility, medical care, schools, cost of living, employment, entertainment, the state it’s located in and personal safety.
Four towns in Colorado made Anderson’s top-60 list including Montrose (No. 2), Windsor (No. 11), Palisade (No. 22) and Cañon City (No. 54), while Cedaredge and Cortez were selected in the list of 61-100 in no specific order. Anderson said if Windsor’s cost of housing wasn’t so high, it would have been close to the top of the list. Being close to two universities also helped.
“The fact that Windsor is located exactly where it is, you’re in between the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University,” Anderson said. “Windsor is still the right size of town, and the best city in that size group in that area. I think it’s a wonderful area, pretty hard to beat for a lot of reasons.”