What makes an area, a region, a city great? It’s a question that, in order to answer honestly, requires a lens of relativity. One has to look at what our modern culture values, then compare and contrast. What does one city offer that another lacks? What does one region have that isn’t found anywhere else?

Our #1 in the 904 Issue, which features the results of our readers poll, provides a nice annual portrait of Northeast Florida’s best assets. If a region needs great creators, we’ve got ‘em. From hip-hop artist and DJ, Mr. Al Pete (#1 Full-Length Album, Mr. Peterson’s Neighborhood) to tattoo artist Myra Oh (#1 Tattoo Artist), Northeast Florida is home to artists whose output reflects the influences of their hometown and resonates outside of the region. We boast a distinctive and diverse food and restaurant scene, with spots like Safe Harbor Seafood (#1 Waterfront Restaurant, #1 Seafood Restaurant) promoting local ingredients and strengthening the region’s culinary identity. 

Northeast Florida’s also up to date on prevailing trends: from shopping and services like health and beauty to the bar and cocktail scene. Our great coffee shops, like Bold Bean (winner of #1 Coffee House and #1 Study Spot), can roast with the best third-wavers anywhere in North America. We’ve even got dog parks that double as bars, like BrewHound (#1 Dog Park, #1 Outdoor Hangout Spot, #1 Place to Find Love), and ultra-hip accomodations like Hotel Palms (#1 Boutique Motel and #1 Motel).

Personally, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t think that a great region needed competent local media outlets to tell previously untold stories and provide a platform for marginalized voices. While I was encouraged (relieved) to see Void bagged #1 Publication in its own poll, I was even more thankful that readers selected journalist Shelton Hull as their favorite writer. Hull’s been a contributor to this publication for just a short time, but long ago distinguished himself as an important voice in local media. And as diversity is an undeniable strength in any great region, most of all, I was heartened to see Void’s 35 Under 35 Issue–which featured a diverse group of culture shifters–was our readers favorite of the year.   

While some of the categories in our poll may seem superfluous, taken as a whole, the results of our #1 in the 904 Reader’s Poll paints a picture of a region that’s at least comparable to others. Mix in the abundance of outdoor activities, dining options, and personalities that thrive off the water that weaves its way through Northeast Florida’s roughly 1,000 sq. miles, and, I’d argue you’ve got a case for a great region. At the very least we’re a region on the rise; one with a high ceiling.

That’s my take, anyway. And in this issue you’ll opportunity to hear several others, as we asked the folks that you deemed #1 in the 904 to rap with us and tell us what they think makes the 904 so great. 

This one’s for the 904. By the 904.

Cheers,

Matt

Pick up a copy of the Vol. 10, Issue 4 at any of these locations to see all the results.