What is the ugliest city you have ever visited?
I’ve traveled to nearly every state and it’s really amazing to see the varying cultures, architecture, and climates but, if I’m being honest, there are some ugly cities out there.
You know what I’m talking about. The cities that when you pull into town you just feel an overwhelming sense of depression. That could be for any number of reasons.
I’m currently living in Chicago, but I’m from Detroit, and I’ve driven back and forth so many times that I could do it with my eyes closed. Along the route, is northeast, Indiana and as soon as you hit Gary, it’s a real bummer immediately. It’s definitely on my list of ugliest cities. Do you agree with these?
1. Gary, IN
“Gary, Indiana. The entire city was gray. No color. I thought I had gone color blind until I got to Chicago.”
2. Las Vegas, NV
“Vegas. Although I wouldn’t call it much of a city; it was more of a clusterf*** of buildings, neon, and wasted lives all stitched together smack in the middle of bumf*** nowhere.”
3. Bakersfield, CA
“Bakersfield, CA – Never in my life have I seen such a sour sight. Oil wells as far the eye can see that it almost looks a heard of stationary ants humping the soil.”
4. Los Angeles, CA
“LA. depressing concrete s***hole and I’m glad I visited nicer cities in the USA. everyone was so angry/sad there.”
5. El Paso, TX
“El Paso, Texas, depresses the hell out of me.”
“As someone born and raised there, agree to a point. There are some charming bits but those are small and connected by strip mall hell. And that drive along I-10 where there are McMansions on the mountain on the US and shantytowns on the Mexican side is truly a lesson in the distribution of capital. I do miss hiking around the mountains and driving to Hueco tanks to boulder.”
6. Modesto, CA
“Modesto, CA. It should be a crime to make a city as ugly as Modesto in a state with so much beauty.”
7. Youngstown, OH
“Youngstown, Ohio. Pure depression.”
“I was thinking of going to Youngstown State University and I went to visit the campus and noticed the same thing. This was in the late 90s.”
8. Albuquerque, NM
“Albuquerque, NM. Let me paint a picture. In a rental car after 14 hours of driving, I make it about halfway into town. And need gas badly. I pull over to a pretty empty gas station. Just Some oily cardboard sheets spread out here and there. Trees pretty much envelope 3/4s of the sides of the building itself.
I get ready to slide my card in the reader when 6 individuals start exiting the cover of the trees. Three guys take up sitting or lying down on the strewn cardboard and three women/girls of questionable age somewhere between 16 and 40 I ballpark approach my car and try to hem and haw and cough to get my attention. I pull my card back, say “aww s***, declines. F***.” Get back in my car and speed away. In my rearview I see more people keep coming out of the trees. They didn’t look pleased.”
9. Johnstown, PA
“Johnstown, Pennsylvania… You can almost feel that the city is dying a slow, unsettling death…”
10. Aberdeen, WA
“After I visited Aberdeen, Washington I felt like I understood Kurt Cobain better. The natural surroundings are stunningly beautiful, but in the middle of it, there’s this gray, dark, depressing town built on a swamp that feels like it’s sucking the life out of you. If a town could have feelings, this one would be utterly, hopelessly depressed.”
11. Birmingham, AL
“Birmingham, Alabama. Half the city is just bland brown brick buildings from the ’80s, and the other half is basically abandoned ruins of bland brown brick buildings from the ’80s”
12. Albany, NY
“Albany, NY just feels like a really big Greyhound bus station to me. In the summer it’s kinda gross, but in the winter it’s a muddy gray sh*tpile. Whenever I’ve found myself there I’ve felt like I need to escape it – probably in an old school bus with razor wire strung around it with sharpened broomstick handles protruding from the windows.”
13. Stark or Waldo, FL
“‘City’ would be generous, but take it upon yourself to never stop in Stark or Waldo, FL.”
14. Abilene, TX
“Abilene, Tx. just empty buildings, ghettos, and more churches than I’ve ever seen. the churches are doing well. the city, not so much.”
15. Indepedence, MO
“Independence, MO. — meth capital of the United States. Even the buildings look like they smoke rocks.”
16. Gary, IN
“Gary, Indiana is the best reason ever to remove speed limits from freeways. So you can enter and exit Gary in the shortest possible time.
You know a city is bad when the local government boasts there’s been less than a dozen murders and less than 20 dead crack babies this month!
Things are Lookin’ up for Gary, Indiana!”
17. Bakersfield, CA
“Bakersfield, California, is one of the ugliest cities always gives me a headache when I visit it.”
18. Stockton, CA
“Stockton, CA is some big yikes. Maybe not aesthetically ugly, but definitely socioeconomically ugly.”
19. Cleveland, OH
“Cleveland Ohio. That place irritates my soul.
When I went it was dirty and rats everywhere. And it’s a pretty bland And boring city.”
20. Watertown, NY
“No one has mentioned Watertown NY so I guess I’ll make the case for it. I grew up in the Watertown area. Have since traveled all over the US many times. I’ve seen some downright awful places but I’ve yet to see a place that captures the same kind of energy that Watertown does.
Watertown is unique in that it has the perfect combination of a depressed economy, dilapidated infrastructure, and poor weather. It gets positively hammered with snow in the winter due to its proximity to Lake Ontario and often sets records for snowfall and low temperatures. The winters are brutal and sometimes start as early as October and can last into May. It exists in what was once the bottom of an ancient glacial lake so the low elevation means constant cloud cover which makes it gray and bleak during the summertime.
On top of that, almost any art or music that is written about the place is about how bad it is. Frank Sinatra’s album Watertown is depressing as hell. Harry Chapin wrote the song “A Better Place To Be” while he was in Watertown. There are more examples too. It’s so depressing that it inspires people to write about how depressing it is.”
21. Laurel, MS
“Laurel, MS. They try to doll it up on the HGTV show, but it’s a cesspool. Upgraded to the most violent city in Mississippi last year, if I’m not mistaken.”
22. Terre Haute, IN
“Terre Haute, IN. Truly the armpit of the state.”
23. Stockton, CA
“That town was almost blown to smithereens in the early ’70s. A train carrying heavy munitions derailed downtown and caught fire. No casualties, thank God, except maybe from the derailment.
I was in the Navy in SF and part of a massive helicopter evacuation and EMT effort. We landed our great birds in a little League baseball field during a game. Scared the crap out of everybody. They had no clue they might soon participate in a mushroom cloud.
Sewed some serious panic that day.”
24. Rochester, NY
“I can’t believe no one had mentioned Rochester NY, Anything past Culver road. The worst parts are near Lyell and Monroe Ave. The place is a sh*t hole.”
25. Houston, TX
“Oh my god. Why has no one said Houston yet?”
“Horrible for pedestrians (the city was really made for cars rather than people), sad ugly homes, people hate their dogs and keep them in chicken coop-like things. I worked with linemen in Houston and saw a lot of backyards…it’s crazy how many people there don’t understand what transformers are, and just pile junk all around them.”
26. Lawton, OK
“Lawton, OK also. Only been on a few quick in and out missions into the town, but by golly does look like a mess.”
27. Spokane, WA
“Spokane, WA. It feels like it got left behind in the late 80s when Seattle became a major destination with no vibrancy or anything attractive about the city in general. Just bunches of residential neighborhoods with a few upscale eateries to keep it just out of last place.”
28. Blyth, CA
“Lost my virginity there so it’s not all bad”
29. Cañon City, CO
“Cañon City, CO. The Royal Gorge is lovely, but as it’s also home to multiple prisons, the rest of it is bleak as hell.”
30. Niagra Falls, NY
“As someone who grew up in a small town of 800, 10 minutes away from Niagara Falls, I completely agree. The city is horribly unkempt and after Detroit, is the poster child of a rust belt city. Everything’s rusty, abandoned houses and buildings crowd the city, grass growing through streets and sidewalks and there’s a general doom and gloom depressed vibe hanging in the air, absolute sh!t hole. Cross the border to Canada and the change is almost as drastic as going from Tijuana to San Diego. I promptly got the hell out of there when I was 18.”