Sara Thopson - Jul 4, 2011

America’s Travel and Leisure magazine announced America’s dirtiest cities based on a survey of its readers. The results, in some cases, were surprising.

In some ways dirtiness is a bit like beauty in that it is somewhat difficult to define and very much dependent upon individual opinions. Whereas some may find laundry hanging from balconies repulsive, others may find it rather romantic. The same goes for street culture or graffiti.

This is why the results of surveys carried out by American magazines and other organizations threw up some surprising results. Although the input of readers does not have to be taken immensely seriously, the surveys are still indicative of attitudes towards urban areas of the USA.

The dirtiest city in the USA is not New York or Philadelphia, yet New Orleans. The birthplace of jazz came across as dirty to a number of respondents, yet the question remains as to who exactly would find it easy to clean up after the Mardi Gras. Hurricanes and a large population certainly don’t help either.

The American Lung Association, clearly looking at dirt from the point of view of the air only, placed Los Angeles into the hall of shame, whereas the American State Litter Scoreboard put Nevada and Louisiana in the bottom 5 of the dirt league.

The psychological element is important. Visitors to New York, a massive metropolis, expect a certain amount of dirt, making their feedback subject to bias. Tramps, cigarette butts and litter may go unnoticed in the Big Apple yet mentioned in detail in a “favorite city” survey about a smaller or less-known urban area.


10 Dirtiest Cities in the U.S. (Travel + Leisure magazine)
1/ New Orleans
2/ Philadelphia
3/ Los Angeles
4/ Memphis
5/ New York
6/ Baltimore
7/ Las Vegas
8/ Miami
9/ Atlanta
10/ Houston

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