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Eleven of The Worst Cities in The United States

Updated on March 29, 2018

The United States may be the richest country ever (well... until recently), but it has more than its share of cities that make you wish you were dead. Here are eleven of the worst ones, in no particular order. The main criteria for inclusion in the list is bad economies, crime, traffic, annoying people, nothing to do, crappy schools...and the whims of the writer.

Detroit, MI
Population: 916,952

Of course you knew this list would start with effing Detroit.
This city used to be THE premier industrial city of the United
States during the first half of the 20th century. These days,
it's more like the crime and general f'd-upness capital
of the nation. The auto industry's deterioration in recent
decades led to stubbornly high unemployment, and with time it
has turned the city's downtown into a semi-ghost town. The
city's last mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick (the "hip-hop" mayor),
went to jail for perjury and misconduct (it's a long story
that has to do with text messages, adultery, a stripper
getting murdered, etc.). A mayoral candidate joked about there
being "no one left to kill" in Detroit. Someday soon, that
may literally be true, as the collapse of the auto industry
is sure to plunge the city into even more intense misery
and desolation.

Camden, NJ
Population: 79,3188

While Camden may have been making some improvements in
recent years, it's still safe to say that the city is a squalid
shithole. Camden used to be an important industrial hub up
until the middle of the 20th century. But as heavy industry
started leaving the city, the city became known less for
making phonographs, airplanes and soup and better known for
being a good place to get raped, shot, robbed, beaten to
death, or a combination of all of the above. The murder rate
is about 5 times the national average (and it used to be worse!).
Not surprisingly, unemployment is high--usually above 10%--
and about a third of the population lives under the poverty line.


East St. Louis, IL
Population: 31,542

Another formerly prosperous city which relied on heavy industry
for its economy, East St. Louis' main industry in modern times
is to serve as a punchline for jokes. Its population has more
than halved since the 1950s, and on most years the city is a
top contender for the title of "America's Most Dangerous City".
Entire blocks full of empty buildings dot East St. Louis. The
city actually looks so much like a post-apocalyptic dystopia,
that back in the late 1970s, it was used to film the movie
Escape from New York. So if you're looking to shoot a film
about a city in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion or a war,
East St. Louis is your town. Also a good place to check out
if you're into high levels of industrial pollution. Or if you
have a thing for despair, desolation and hopelessness.

Modesto, CA
Population: 210,096

Good lord. Where to begin? Hard hit by the mortgage crisis. Meth
capital of the world. Bad air quality. Rampant crime. Unemployment.
Recently, Forbes Magazine ranked it the worst metro area in the
U.S. with more than 500,000 people. It also has the honor of
almost always being at the top of national auto-theft statistics.
Well, at least it's cheap to live in right? Well, no. It's in
California, so the cost of living is automatically going to be
absurdly high. There's apparently also nothing to do, so it seems
to be a notoriously boring city. Well, except for the crime.
BUT HEY IT'S IN CALIFORNIA RIGHT? California's pretty.

Orlando, FL
Population: 227,907

Orlando doesn't usually make any "Worst Cities" lists (that I'm
aware of), so feel free to disagree with me here. This one is
kind of personal. I lived in Orlando and learned to hate it. And
there was more than enough to hate. For what it is (and it sure as
f**k ain't NYC or San Francisco) the cost of living is high. There
are tourists everywhere, thanks to Disney World and all the other
tacky, annoying, tourist-trap BS which covers this town.
There's no real sense of community, as practically everyone who
lives in Orlando is from somewhere else, so the city feels
rootless and transitory. Wages are low and quality jobs are rare.
People drive like maniacs (and these are the residents, not
just the tourists). The schools are beyond awful and crime is
frighteningly high, especially for a city that's supposed to be
a world-class destination.The population is a mixture of criminals,
non-English speaking immigrants, stupid rednecks and ghetto thugs.

Washington, D.C.
Population: 591,833

Our nation's capital is in many ways a total embarassment to the
United States. Among the things that make D.C. a horrible place
to live are out-of-control traffic, a disproportionately high cost
of living, expensive yet crappy housing, an AIDS rate comparable
to any African country and a decades-long crime and poverty problem.
The rich minority live in opulent neighborhoods, while the poor
live in horrifying slums, Third World-style. In recent years, close
to 20% of the population has found itself living under the poverty
line. About a third of children live in poverty. The public schools
are such a mess they probably make the ones in the South Bronx look
okay in comparison. This is also the city that elected crack-smoking,
prostitute enthusiast Marion Barry for mayor. And then they elected
him to the city council.


Miami, Florida
Population: 433,136

One of the largest big cities in the United States of America where no one seems to speak any English (there are several), Miami is like a cancerous growth on the tip of Florida (America's Penis). It bears all the hallmarks of a failed city: terrible schools, high crime, low wages, social inequality, maddening traffic and massive, ingrained corruption. Add to that the river of drugs that flows through Miami, its rude, fractious population and its location directly in the path of every other hurricane, and it's hard to understand why human beings live here...although some argue that none do. Yeah, South Beach is awesome and the weather's nice, but it doesn't make up for Miami's consistent and disturbing third-world vibe. Some will say that the horrors of this hellhole are offset by its vibrant culture, and its "diversity". If by "diversity" you mean "Latino", mainly Cuban. Other than a significant Haitian/Caribbean minority, you might as well be in a flashier, gayer and more dangerous version of Havana. No thanks.

New Orleans, Louisiana
Population: 336,644

Look, we all love Mardi Gras and gumbo and the Saints
and all of that s**t. But you're nuts if you think New
Orleans would be a good place to live in. Or a good place
to do anything but throw up on your shoes or flash
your tits to strangers (preferably both). New Orleans
is fetid, humid and smelly. So are its inhabitants, by
and large. The city's third-world-level crime rate has
often put it at the top of "Most Dangerous City" lists,
both before and after the city was levelled by
Hurricane Katrina. Its abysmal schools are a regular
source of shame, and deeply embedded corruption makes
bringing real change to the city a daunting challenge.
But New Orleans' horrible, depressing, intractable
problems can be traced back to the very foundation
of the city. You see, someone thought it'd be a great
idea to build a city below sea level, right by the
banks of the largest river in North America.

Katrina turned an already bad situation into a nearly
impossible one, as the city lost much of its infrastructure,
housing and population during, and after, the storm. The
city may never recover, even as its very viability comes
increasingly into question.

Ummmm, but hey..."Who Dat?", am I right?!? Go Saints.

Memphis, Tennessee
Population: 676,640

Start a conversation with people on the Internet over
what the worst cities in America are, and Memphis is
sure to come up. While the city hosts Graceland and
some bars and restaurants on Beale Street,
well, other things, I'm sure...Memphis is better known
for how f*****g dangerous it is. Forbes magazine
named it the most dangerous city in the United States
for 2010. The last few years have seen a steady increase
in gang activity in the city and its metro area. If you
don't get killed by ghetto thugs, you might just get
killed in a traffic accident instead. Memphis saw
15 traffic deaths per 100,000 people in 2008, an
alarmingly high number. It's okay, though. Memphis
makes up for it with its exquisitely bitter racial
tension and lack of anything to do except eat.
And, you know, there's Elvis. Anyway, Andy Kaufman
was right about these people.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Population: 333,336

One of several decaying Rust Belt towns that used to
form the backbone of America's economy (like a million
years ago), Cincinnati is a depressing, dangerous,
joyless place. One of the more noticeable problems
is the horrible, rage-inducing traffic. While some
parts of the city have become increasingly gentrified,
a lot of Cincy is still basically old, sh**ty neighborhoods
that last saw good days around World War II. Crime
is a serious problem in this craphole, and the city often
makes it into at least the Top 20 in lists of most dangerous
cities. Trust me, you don't want to live here. Unless you
like racial animosity and the strong possibility of
getting mugged or killed.

Stockton, California
Population: 290,409

Dumped right into the boring, crappy middle of the
north Central Valley, Stockton accomplishes what
only Modesto and a few other bad cities have:
make living in California a nightmare of boredom,
stagnation and crime (normally you get the boredom
OR the crime, not both). Stockton has practically
nothing to offer. The employment picture is bleak,
with an unemployment rate of 17.5% (as of November
2010). The mortgage crisis hit Stockton particularly
hard, with tons of foreclosures and vacant properties.
Of course, crime is a long-running problem, with
the city's metro area being the fifth most dangerous
one in the United States. On most years, the city
ranks among the most violent in both the state and
the nation, thanks in large part to the large volume
of drugs that moves north through the area. And
there's, of course, nothing to do for fun.

But, hey, the rents are cheap. Err, for California.

Which US city is the worst?

See results


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