The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012
From the Berkshires to the Cascades, we've crunched the numbers and pulled a list some of the most interesting spots around the country
- By Susan Spano and Aviva Shen
- Smithsonian magazine, May 2012
East Side neighborhood near downtown Butler. (Scott Goldsmith)
An old-time rural hub as down-to-earth as its most famous product—the Jeep.
Mines and factories come to mind when people think about western Pennsylvania, but forests and farms stretch across the state, punctuated by small towns like the seat of Butler County north of Pittsburgh in the Allegheny River watershed. Butler (pop. 13,800) is an American classic that grew up along a trail blazed by George Washington, sent in 1753 to discourage French settlement along the frontier. Farmers followed, giving the region its country character and prized hand-built barns. The town serves as a business and cultural hub, with its own baseball team, thriving downtown, community symphony, theater and barbershop chorus. The Maridon Museum, founded by local philanthropist Mary Hulton Phillips, houses an excellent collection of Asian art, and the Butler County Historical Society maintains an old settler’s cabin, schoolhouse and the landmark 1828 Lowrie Shaw House. Butler owes its star on the map to the Jeep, invented just before World War II at the town’s American Bantam Car Company and still celebrated in August at the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. -- SS
Read how these towns were selected.