“Smelly Wasteland”: The 8 Dirtiest US Cities According to Americans

The United States boasts an array of picturesque landscapes, dynamic cities, and cultural hubs. However, not all cities shine bright in the eyes of their residents and visitors. A mix of environmental factors, historical events, and administrative challenges have led to some cities being perceived as less than pristine. Below, we explore eight cities that have gained the not-so-desirable reputation of being among the dirtiest according to some Americans:

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans
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Regarded by many as the cultural heart of the South with its vibrant music, rich history, and unique cuisine, New Orleans, unfortunately, has had its fair share of environmental and administrative challenges. Still grappling with the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, the city also faces a constant cleanup challenge due to the annual Mardi Gras festivities. It’s not uncommon to find beads and other parade remnants on the streets months later. Some believe that New Orleans hasn’t fully recovered in certain aspects, and the remnants of festivals and tragedies past can sometimes overshadow its beauty.

2. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California
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Positioned between the urban sprawl of San Francisco and Oakland and the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert, Bakersfield is often described as the meeting point of various unpleasant odors. Residents and visitors have reported a cocktail of smells ranging from dust, oil refineries, and animal by-products, especially during the scorching summer months. The city’s industrial nature, combined with the agricultural activities in the surrounding areas, makes for a unique (and not always pleasant) olfactory experience.

3. East St. Louis, Illinois

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Historically, East St. Louis has faced economic challenges, and these have manifested in its urban landscape. With crumbling infrastructure and a struggling local economy, the city has garnered a reputation for being unkempt. Vacant lots, dilapidated buildings, and littered streets are some of the visual cues that have led to its unfavorable perception among Americans.

4. New York City, New York

New York City, NYC
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Often termed “The Big Apple” or “The City That Never Sleeps,” NYC is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic metropolises. However, with such a dense population comes the challenge of waste management. From the crowded subways to the traffic-jammed streets, New Yorkers and tourists alike often comment on the city’s grime. Trash bags piled on sidewalks awaiting collection and the occasional rodent sighting in subway stations have cemented its spot on this list for some.

5. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, CA
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Despite its glamorous Hollywood facade, parts of Los Angeles suffer from pollution, both visual and environmental. The city’s extensive freeway system contributes to smog, and certain neighborhoods face challenges with litter and graffiti. Although efforts are in place to clean and rejuvenate these areas, the vastness of LA makes it a monumental task.

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
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While Philadelphia brims with historical landmarks and a rich past, certain sections of the city struggle with cleanliness. Reports of overflowing trash cans, especially after events or weekends, have given the city a somewhat tarnished reputation.

7. San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
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Known for its tech boom, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and steep streets, San Francisco has recently been in the spotlight for its cleanliness issues, particularly in the downtown areas. With increasing homelessness and related challenges, the city faces an uphill battle in maintaining its picturesque image.

8. Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas
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Houston’s rapid expansion and industrial backbone have sometimes placed it under scrutiny regarding its cleanliness. Areas around its refineries and ports, combined with periodic flooding, have sometimes made parts of the city appear less than pristine.

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