City living has its perks: diverse cultures, bustling economies, and vibrant social scenes. But, the very allure that draws millions to urban areas is the same force that compels a range of less-than-desirable problems. Among these, sanitation—or rather, the lack thereof—ranks high, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Concerns about hygiene have soared, transforming our collective approach to cleanliness from casual consideration to utmost priority.
To provide a clear picture of which American cities are wrestling with the grimiest conditions, HouseFresh delved into over 12 million 311 sanitation-related complaints across the nation. The results? A comprehensive ranking of urban areas that might just need a little more elbow grease than others. Here are the top 9 grimiest cities in the United States:
Surprising to some, yet known to those who tread its historic streets, Baltimore tops the charts with an alarming 47,295 sanitation complaints. This figure isn’t just a number—it’s a wake-up call to the city that boasts the National Aquarium and Camden Yards. From overflowing bins to neglected alleyways, Baltimore’s struggle with sanitation is a stark contrast to its coastal charm.
The heart of California’s government isn’t immune to the grime that affects its streets. With 34,186 complaints, Sacramento’s position on this list reminds us that even the centers of power can be overshadowed by the need for better waste management practices. As the city grows, so does its need to address these underlying issues.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte’s skyline might be reaching for the stars, but on the ground, there’s a different tale being told. 31,112 complaints put this banking giant on the map for reasons beyond its financial prowess. Charlotte’s sanitation issues serve as a reminder that economic growth and environmental cleanliness must go hand in hand.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, is synonymous with Hollywood glamour. Yet, beneath the glitz, 21,616 sanitation-related complaints highlight a pressing narrative of neglect. From Venice Beach to the stars’ mansions, waste management remains a critical issue for this Pacific paradise.
Not only does Memphis resonate with the soulful strains of blues and the sweet, smoky scent of barbecue, but it also reverberates with 17,408 complaints about sanitation. This city, which prides itself on rich cultural heritage and music that’s known worldwide, has a less glamorous side that’s calling for attention and clean-up.
The Cradle of Liberty might be steeped in American history and grandeur, but Boston’s current-day narrative includes 10,252 sanitation complaints. From the historic Freedom Trail to the hallowed halls of its esteemed universities, Boston’s challenge lies in ensuring that the city’s cleanliness is as commendable as its academic and revolutionary reputation.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, home to the Alamo and renowned River Walk, is also the site of 8,929 sanitation complaints. This Texan city, where historical landmarks sit alongside modern attractions, faces the contemporary issue of managing waste effectively in a rapidly expanding urban landscape.
Kansas City, Missouri
With its famous barbecue, jazz heritage, and fountains, Kansas City adds an unfortunate flavor to our list with 8,874 sanitation-related complaints. The city known for its culinary and musical contributions is now on the radar for a reason that’s far from appetizing or entertaining.
Buffalo, New York
Rounding out our list is Buffalo, the city that’s as famous for its snowy winters as it is for its fiery wings. Here, 8,509 sanitation complaints have been lodged, underscoring a gritty problem amid the otherwise picturesque cityscapes known for their art deco architecture and proximity to Niagara Falls.