Americana at Brand water  fountain

Shoppers enjoy music and a water show at the Americana at Brand on Sunday, October 26, 2008. (Roger Wilson / News┬┐Press / January 2, 2014)

By the time polls closed Thursday, Glendale had pulled in enough votes to lock in the title of the region’s best neighborhood, besting Los Angeles’ Arts District, in a competition run by Curbed Los Angeles.

The annual competition began earlier this month with Glendale up against communities such as Koreatown, Highland Park and Hollywood.

Earlier this week, Glendale landed in the finals against the downtown Arts District, winning about 60% of the more than 2,200 votes cast to make it the real estate blog’s 2013 neighborhood of the year.

Although the blog reported that Glendale defeated its opponents “with the help of a little paid PR,” city officials said they weren’t aware of a firm being hired.

“We don’t have a PR firm to promote the city of Glendale,” said city spokesman Tom Lorenz, adding later, “I don’t have a budget for that.”

Even so, Lorenz said social media played a major role in the online competition as local residents, city officials, and organizations — including the Americana at Brand — took to social networks to encourage people to vote for the Jewel City.

“Glendale has changed and people are paying attention to Glendale, and people do it through social media,” he said.

Among them was Glendale Arts’ Nina Crowe, the business development and sales manager for the organization, who said she used Twitter and her personal email account to get the vote out.

“I think Glendale won the Curbed Cup because the people that live work and play in the city — they understand the importance of its vibrancy and wanted to support that,” she said.

Glendale Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she took to Facebook during each round of the competition to get friends to vote for the city.

“A lot of other people put it on Facebook and it became a grass-roots kind of effort,” she said.

Although she said the competition may have been a little “unfair” with a city of Glendale’s size going up against smaller Los Angeles neighborhoods, she was proud of Glendale for coming out ahead. The Arts District has a population of about 5,000 people, while Glendale’s population is close to 200,000.

For her, the competition validated a growing understanding of Glendale and its offerings to residents who live outside of it.

“We do have culture, a thriving arts community, a diverse community, independent shopping, chain stores, ethnic restaurants. A lot of that information has not filtered to people in the greater Los Angeles area,” she said.

Not so long ago in 2010, a citywide survey showed Glendale was boring and overlooked, although it had a positive reputation among visitors and residents. A survey of upscale residents living outside the city also indicated people knew Glendale as the location between Pasadena and Burbank, but not much else.

As a result, the city turned to consultants to help better the city’s image, and the tagline of their marketing strategy became, “Your life. Animated.”

City Manager Scott Ochoa said the winning result was testimony to the efforts that have gone into improving downtown Glendale in the past few years.

“I think as you look around the corner what 2014 and 2015 hold…I think you’ll see Glendale really is a great location to have some fun, and at the same time, be safe, and enjoy the environment in which to live,” Ochoa said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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