Marietta makes list in national magazine

Marietta is receiving national attention as a phenomenal place to visit, making it to the sixth spot in Smithsonian Magazine’s “The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014.”

“I think that it’s putting us in very high esteem to be chosen,” said Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews.

Terence Monmaney, deputy editor of Smithsonian Magazine, said for three years the magazine has been finding towns across the United States to highlight.

“We look at towns with under 15,000 residents and we’re interested in what we call ‘cultural assets,’ which include museums, theaters, concert venues and festivals,” he said, adding that there are around 15 to 20 total criteria.

Monmaney said they look for places that are geographically diverse.

“We don’t want 10 towns in California or Jersey,” he said.

Monmaney said a big plus for Marietta is that it is so historic.

“You have a beautiful intact historic downtown,” he said. “There are origins in history as the first settlement in the Northwest Territory.”

Monmaney said overall, Marietta is a great fit for the list.

“I think it’s a combination of location-there’s beauty on the rivers and the historic downtown-and there’s lively cultural life with history and different sites to visit with a nice natural setting,” he said. “There seems to be a fairly lively cultural life going on there.”

There’s hope the article could draw tourists to the area, said Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“Certainly anytime attention is paid to Marietta in such a positive way, we get excited about it and it is certainly exciting for tourism,” she said.

After putting a post on Facebook Thursday evening about the story, it went viral, Knowlton said.

“I’m just so stoked about it,” she said. “It’s good for business and our reputation. Someone can Google Marietta and it’ll come up in the search (results). It’s a great marketing tool for us as well.”

The Washington County Public Library does carry a copy of the Smithsonian Magazine for viewing, but current issues cannot be checked out. Peoples News, 224 Putnam St., is selling the April issue but copies are limited.

Knowlton said she is seeing a lot of pride being taken in Marietta making the top six.

“The dedicated Marietta community has something to brag about today,” she said. “It instills a sense of pride and quality of life. It confirms why we live here.”

In fact, Matthews referenced a recent report that had Ohio being in the top 10 for most miserable states in the United States, but said that an outsider’s perspective could help reform opinion.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees because you’re too close,” he said. “I think it says volumes to have people on the outside…say you are one of the 20 best (places to visit) in the country. I’ve been here all my life and think we have a great city. To see recognition like this, it’s fantastic that we were chosen.”