Concord residents show off their smiles at being named happiest city in America

CONCORD, CA (Sept. 11, 2022) — Last month, news outlets in the Bay Area and around California carried the story that Concord had been declared the happiest city in America.

Researchers at made the declaration after using Microsoft’s facial recognition API, Azure, to analyze a database of Instagram selfies from every state and the 100 largest U.S. cities.

This tool assigned numerical values to emotions based on facial characteristics and expressions. To work out the happiest cities and states, researchers used the FaceAPI happiness score, averaging all scores from each location. For the smiley-est cities and states, they considered a face to have a smile if its “smile score” was greater than 0.75. Locations were then ranked by the percentage of people smiling.

The report concluded: “On a citywide scale, Concord [boasts] both the highest average happiness rating and most intense smiles. The hometown of Tom Hanks is said to be a quiet and pleasant place to live: moderately wealthy, moderately liberal, and more affordable than similar cities nearby.”

Smiles and skepticism

Based on the results, the report named Concord the “Happiest City in America.” The claim brought more smiles to many residents here, but also some skepticism. Obviously the honor is not meant to be scientific or even serious. However, it’s a fun thing that gives locals a chance to feel some hometown pride. So we at The Pioneer decided to give folks a chance to show off the smiles that brought this distinction to our town.

At a recent downtown Music and Market concert, we gathered photos from some genuinely happy people who wanted to spread the joy.

No one really thinks that smiling selfies on social media truly measure a population’s happiness. It’s probably a good idea not to take social media too seriously or let it dominate your life.

Please enjoy the good vibes from our photo gallery in the light-hearted spirit intended. Sure, Concord has problems with homelessness and crime like any other city. But it’s also OK to be happy about your hometown and share a smile with our neighbors when we can.