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NORTHEAST CITIES SINK TO BOTTOM OF `LIVABLE' LIST

How livable is Buffalo? Not very, according to a new book that ranks New York state's second-largest city dead last among the nation's 100 most livable cities.

Topping the list of Marlin's most livable cities is Honolulu, Hawaii, followed by Anchorage, Alaska. Rounding out the top 10: Denver; Charlotte, N.C.; Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.; Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake City; Seattle; Miami; and Sacramento, Calif.Using death rates as his leading indicator, John Tepper Marlin, author of "The Livable Cities Almanac," ranks a number of Northeastern cities at the bottom of his list of healthy places to live. According to Marlin, none is more unlivable than Buffalo, No. 100 with a bullet.

"The Northeast tends to have more people who are dying faster," Marlin said in a phone interview from New York City, which ranks 89th on his list.

The bottom 10 are Pittsburgh, Shreveport, La.; Portland, Maine; Springfield, Mass.; Jersey City, N.J.; Flint, Mich.; Newark, N.J.; Worcester, Mass.; Toledo, Ohio; and Buffalo.

Marlin used an adjusted death rate that calculated the difference between a metropolitan area's actual mortality rate and the rate expected based on its median age. The adjusted rate told Marlin where people lived longer or shorter than normally expected.

"The length of life is related to quality of life. If you have a good life, you're likely to live longer," he said.

Diet is the key factor that puts such geographical opposites as Honolulu and Anchorage at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, Marlin said. People in Honolulu and Anchorage eat more fish and maintain seafood diets, he said.

"They eat fish in Boston, but they fry the hell out of it and eat it with french fries and other bad stuff," Marlin said.

Cities in the Northeast tend to be old industrial centers that "leave a legacy of pollution, which I believe affects their longevity," Marlin said. Of the top 20 cities on the list, only one - the Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn., area - is located in the Northeast.

Of the bottom 10, only one city - Shreveport, La. - is located in the Sun Belt.

Marlin stuck to issues that directly influence a person's longevity, such as economic health, public safety and environment. Other surveys toss in such variables as culture, going so far as to count the number of opera performances, he said.

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(Additional information)

S.L. in top 10

Here is a ranking of the nation's healthiest cities and least healthy as documented in John Tepper Marlin's new book, "The Livable Cities Almanac." No. 1 is the most healthy and No. 100 is the least healthy.

z 1. Honolulu

2. Anchorage, Alaska

3. Denver

4. Charlotte, N.C.

5. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.

6. Washington

7. Salt Lake City

8. Seattle

9. Miami

10. Sacramento, Calif.

11. Colorado Springs

18. Boise

25. Phoenix

27. San Francisco-Oakland

28. Los Angeles-Long Beach

38. Las Vegas

89. New York City

90. Chicago

91. Pittsburgh

92. Shreveport, La.

93. Portland, Maine

94. Springfield, Mass.

95. Jersey City, N.J.

96. Flint, Mich.

97. Newark, N.J.

98. Worcester, Mass.

99. Toledo, Ohio.

100. Buffalo, N.Y.