Americans of Reddit, what is the worst big city in the USA and why?

  1. My city, Stockton California. Finally got another serial killer captured a few weeks ago. Don't get me started on the speed freak killers. City has a real population of around 420k, 60k are homeless. The last 3 mayor's have been arrested during or after their term. City council is a farce. PD, holy shit of shit shows. I will admit there are good officers, yet there's been 2 Sergeants arrested for SA and rape in the past year. When I 1st moved here there was a bank robbery with hostages, police put 27 rounds in the hostage. Police chief admitted his guys needed more firing range time on an open mic. Every amusement or nice attraction gets shutdown. Golfland gone, Incredible John's gone, and so on. We're considered the little Chicago, I believe our crime rate is on par with them. School District, holy shit what show. Every year we get a new Superintendent that either gets fired or steps down. The district apparently is close to insolvency with the state getting ready to take over. I believe a few tens of millions in the hole. Yet most of their employees don't get benefits. Yeah health insurance around $800 a month that's mandatory. Have to say the Fire department is awesome asf, they put out a shit ton of fires.

  2. I visited a significant other at UoP when I was in undergrad and wanted to walk to the cinema. It was a horrible mistake, such an eerie feeling to get off campus there. I felt heavily watched... Worst thing is that being from NorCal, I knew it was bad. I just didn't know it was that bad.

  3. Ah, hello fellow Stocktonian. As someone who has lived his entire life in this city, I can say that while it's a shithole, it's MY shithole, and I have some nice memories of places here.

  4. Stockton murder rate should be well past Chicago's. Chicago isn't one of the most dangerous cities in the country despite the stat twisting that the news does. Stockton, Richmond and the small meth towns up the 101 on the way to eureka are some of the absolute worst areas I've seen in the country and I've been all over

  5. My dad's from Pine Bluff. Literally named worst city in America a few times. My mom's from Crawfordsville, just outside West Memphis. Crawfordsville is so tiny and stuck in time that it's hard to say much else about it, but West Memphis is quite a shithole. And the drive between the two is nothing but soybean fields and wind.

  6. I had a job offer in Bakersfield once. On the tiny flight back home a local couple asked me why I was in town. I told them, asked them their opinions and they said dear God don't move here. Did not take that offer

  7. Bakersfield has got to be the worst city in California, at the very least. Some cool country music there 50 years ago, but since then…yikes.

  8. My buddy got called up to Fresno to do a bunch of jobs (Solar Tech). The first night he stayed he came out and his van was broken into and all the tools were gone. Milwaukee tools too, and for those who don’t know, those are very expensive.

  9. I'll never forget the day Dad told teen me we were moving to California. Super excited, thinking about the ocean and surfing. Then we fly into the Central Valley, get off the plane and I'm like...where in the hell is California?

  10. Bakersfieldian here 🙋🏼‍♀️ it really isn’t horrible. Not the most amazing place but there is a lot of very nice parts. Don’t go to oildale, that’s meth town however, there are some very nice places to live there. Seven oaks for example. You’re an hour from everything here. Desert, snow, mountains and big cities like L.A are a hour and a half. It’s very convenient.

  11. Some dude from Bakersfield, CA was just arrested for robbing my house. For reference I’m in TN so he has come a long way from home just to be a shithead. This checks out…

  12. Gets all the smog from LA too so it's an incredibly unpleasant place to drive through even if you have no intention to stop. People joke about it being the armpit of California and they aren't wrong.

  13. I passed Camden NJ on a way to a concert - and we stopped at a light and a cop drove up and literally told us “just run the reds and go do not stop” and as we turned you would just see groups of ppl on corners waiting for a stopped car. It was wild.

  14. I live an hour from philly and had to explain this to my wife several times about Camden. She didn't believe me until I ran a red there in front of a cop and nothing happened.

  15. Camden has gotten "better" than it used to be, and by that I mean it's a lot more petty crimes than crimes like assault now. I think for a little while, it was the worst place in the US for car jackings, but don't quote me on that.

  16. I grew up in Jersey right outside Philly. Went to Catholic school and we had required service hours each semester. Junior year we had the opportunity to complete all of our service for the year by going on “Urban Challenge” for a weekend. They took us to a church retreat center in Camden and sanctimoniously talked about poverty and what it should mean to us as cAtHoLiCs. They even had us ~35 white af kids walk in a group to a grocery store so we could buy a days worth of food on an allotted welfare amount. The stares we got. Looking back the whole thing was pretty cringey and I only did it to not have to do service for the rest of the year lol.

  17. I worked with gangs in Camden nearly 30 years ago. At the time it was the 3rd poorest city in the U.S. and 40% of the houses were condemned. But the people were truly lovely. The gangs took me in and helped/protected me as I worked with them and the youth in the community. Learned my most important lessons of life there

  18. Only people that have never been to Chicago would rip on it. There are so many, "OMG I just visited Chicago it was amazing!" posts on reddit. The only people that think Chicago is bad are people from Southern Illinois and people that watch Fox News.

  19. I’ve been to all of those, the only place the guy at the hotel desk told me “lock your door when you get in and if anyone knocks after dark call 911” was in Lakeport. That town is a scary little meth hole.

  20. East St Louis is the only city I've been in where a cop told me to run every stop sign until I got back to the interstate.

  21. I did the same and the lady at the gas station straight looked at me and said “hunny you can’t be here.” She look so worried for me.

  22. One time in high school, my friends and I were going somewhere at night on the Illinois side and we got a bit lost (this was 2005/6 before smartphones) and so we decided we’d pull off the high way and get our bearings. We soon realized we were in ESL and we shouldn’t be there. So my friend who was driving pulled into a side street to turn around and get back to the highway. We saw a large group of guys walking on the sidewalk and they all stared right at our car and watched my friend pull into a driveway to turn around. They started yelling at us, I’m not quite sure what they were saying, but I’m sure seeing four white high school kids driving around East St. Louis late at night was not very common.

  23. "East St. Louis" is not a big city. It's the Illinois side of St. Louis featuring gangs, a strip mall of strip clubs & a few casinos.

  24. Awh! Basically one of the only things I know about Baltimore is that it's the home of Mr Trash Wheel and family (the pride of the Baltimore harbor??) and I imagined it as a trash free oasis protected by the Trash Wheel clan..... Bummer, I need to get out more.

  25. The crazy thing about Baltimore is for all its reputation, the bad part is pretty compact and the rest of the city is lovely.

  26. Honestly, I was coming in here ready to defend Baltimore (I’m in DC but spend a lot of time in Baltimore and love it for the most part) but I read a thread in

  27. Yeah I haven’t been to a lot of the cities mentioned here, so I don’t feel qualified to make a judgement on whether or not they’re the worst, but I grew up going to Baltimore regularly. That city is nuts.

  28. Jackson, Mississippi. Very high murder rate, low education, failing infrastructure. EDIT: yes I know Jackson isn't a very big city. It just sticks out as being in bad shape.

  29. Jackson was eye opening for me. Where I’m from being ‘poor’ means you don’t have a car or the latest phone and your apartment has roaches. In Jackson if you’re poor you don’t have shoes or running water. It’s like a banana republic that can’t grow bananas.

  30. As someone who lives right outside Jackson, I second this. Freaking sad and embarrassing that our capital doesn’t have drinking water, trash pickup, drivable roads, or other things that most small cities across the country already have.

  31. As someone from Jackson, the only city worse is Shreveport, LA. Glad I don’t in/near either anymore. The world outside is such a better place!

  32. When I drove through there and other parts of Mississippi….like it never occurred to my privileged brain that fellow Americans lived like that. It was eye opening and heartbreaking.

  33. I hesitate to answer this because the worst cities in America aren’t big cities. It’s medium and small sized cities that have been hit the hardest by economic changes.

  34. Dude Lowell, MA is not bad. It is a college town so the economic condition is fine. It is next to rich suburbs and the commuter rail station has expensive apartments right next to it for commuters. Idk where you get this info l, but you clearly haven’t been to Lowell in the past 10 years.

  35. Also common denominator, getting dumpstered by the highway system. Hartford has 84 decapitating the north end and 91 blocking the river front. Bridgeport has 95 disconnecting it from the coast and CT-8 cutting right through the middle. Both their downtowns are just in the shadow of massive interchanges. Cities getting chopped up by highways greatly accelerates suburban flight outwards and further sinks them once industry leaves.

  36. Pontiac is shitty, but it's nowhere near listing among the worst cities in the country. There are probably 1000 cities in worse shape than Pontiac right now.

  37. I grew up in a town next to Hartford. I think Downtown Hartford is just sort of soulless. It’s insurance companies and restaurants. Did they finally put a grocery store there? I don’t know how anyone lived in Downtown Hartford without a grocery store. I’m also still bitter about the Whalers leaving. There’s no draw to go there unless you work there.

  38. Hartford sucks. It’s like a shell of a city. The downtown area is a ghost town after 5pm. Years ago I was hooked on heroin and I would find myself in the North End all the time and it’s one of the scariest places I’ve ever been. The skyline is pretty though.

  39. Wow I’ve lived in Lowell for the majority of my life and am shocked it’s the first MA city I’ve seen on this post. I would’ve expected to see like 7 other MA cities before I saw Lowell

  40. I'm from Miramar right next to Miami Gardens and I go into Dade County from time to time, I can verify this comment.

  41. Stayed in wynwood for New Years a couple years ago in a really cool burner vibe multi unit with a bar, super artsy and cute. The hosts told us we could easily walk to the art district from there so we were pumped to not have to deal with Uber/Lyft so we decided to walk over to find some lunch and check it out during the day to get ourselves acclimated. We discovered that it was literally fucking skid row one street off the art district and ended up stuck walking down one of the sketchiest areas I’ve ever experienced (I’m from Detroit/flint/Saginaw, lived close to Baltimore/DC/Philly and also in Oakland CA). Definitely glad we checked it out during the day and didn’t find ourselves stumbling through there after dark and drinking.

  42. Miami has bad neighborhoods but there are many safe ones outside of the “nightlife.” Coral Gables, Miami Springs, Bal Harbor, Pinecrest….

  43. Born and raised there. Hate it so much. There aren’t enough adjectives to express my disgust for that place. Vapid, soul-less, traffic, heat, class conflict, the repugnant rich and the suffering masses of the poor. Drugs and alcohol everywhere all the time to mask the misery. Corrupt politicians. Angry, rude residents. I could go on for hours.

  44. I was born there and lived there until I was nine, and it is the most terrifying place I've ever been. A lot of death and violence happened in our hood. Terrible memories. I lost my dad to that shit city.

  45. I liked pretty much all of the big cities I've been to in the US (live in NYC, spent a few years in Chicago, have visited LA, Boston, DC, Philly).

  46. Ugh, went to undergrad in Binghamton. People love to say it’s in the top 5 most depressing places in the country — they’re probably right.

  47. This is hilarious! I'm from Europe and do not know most of these places that are being discussed - but I do know Binghamton! I once visited family in Canada and went on a road trip to NYC for a few days. Because I, as a European, wanted to experience 'small town America', we stayed in Binghamton for one night. We arrived in the afternoon, did a walk around town which seemed nice. We got to talk to some dudes who were smoking cigars outside somewhere, they recognized we were tourists and wondered what we were doing there, so I explained; we had a nice chat. After that, we had drinks and something to eat in The Colonial in Court Street, which we enjoyed (nice beer selection, if I remember well). The Holiday Inn hotel was meh, but the breakfast was ok. We enjoyed our few hours there :-)

  48. When I had a campus visit as one of three finalists for a tenure track faculty position at Binghamton, pretty much every faculty member talked about being out of the city as much as possible (for many, they generally left for other parts of NY, particularly on NYC, as soon as they finished contact hours for the week) and a number of them brought up the suicide rate.

  49. Bing, My hometown...these comments hurt 🥲 Totally accurate though. But we have Nirchis and Frosty Joe's and speides and I'll fight for those any day.

  50. I lived in Binghamton for close to two years in medical school. Probably the worst place I’ve ever lived. Thank god I was busy with my studies, otherwise I’d probably have become suicidal from the sheer boredom.

  51. Charleston WV, used to be so vibrant and bustling was supposed to become NYC in the mountains is now a dead zone with a struggling infrastructure and an economy that can't keep itself afloat add on the homeless problem which makes all of downtown look like a giant skid row.

  52. When I went to a delicious bbq place in Charleston I drove down a street where every other house had burned down or was in general disrepair. Sobering

  53. Eh, I was just in Charleston last week visiting family after having moved away years back and honestly it's trying. Yeah the city is dying and people are moving away, but it's seriously due to the lack of jobs and absolutely abysmal WV government. The city itself is beautiful and has a lot of great little places. Taylor Books is still to this day one of my favorite places on the planet to just read and relax.

  54. Bakersfield, California is the worst. Please never go there. There is no reason to go there. It is followed closely by Dodge City, Kansas.

  55. OMG. You are exactly right. Those two places are the worst I have ever seen on my travels. Dodge stank (literally) and Bakersfield is just so depressing.

  56. Fun fact: Dodge city is the windiest city in America with average wind speed of 15 mph. November being the least windy month, Dodge still experiences wind speeds of ~45 mph and in April, the windiest month, experiences wind speeds up to ~65 mph.

  57. I was shocked by how bad San Francisco was when I went there. Human shit and needles everywhere. Homeless people passed out with shit covered sweat pants next to $100k g-wagons. Austin was another that was just so sad. So many homeless and so much trash. Denver was beautiful and mostly clean but as soon as it got dark tent cities popped up. It was like a werewolf transforming. Detroit still has to be my pick. It was like an empty husk of something great. Modern day ruins.

  58. I've been in countries that were actively at war with each other, the worst parts of Manila, and some really sketchy places all over the world. Never been more afraid for my life than in East St Louis, Baltimore and New Orleans East (and I love New Orleans still).

  59. I hated growing up by Orlando. For one, brick roads fucking suck, but also there's just too many damn tourists all the time. Entire city's one giant tourist trap.

  60. Every big city has parts within them that are “the worst”. So any answer could be correct. Crime isn’t as high as some people say, although there have been signs of it rising in some places. I’d say that you’d be fine in the right part of any city. There’s reasons to have pride in every place in the United States regardless of their downsides because of all the history and people that live there, except Phoenix which shouldn’t exist because it is a monument to man’s arrogance.

  61. Baltimore. One example; while driving, every stoplight seems to require an interaction with two young entrepreneurs spraying raw sewage onto your windshield with a spray bottle and then aggressively demanding money to wipe it off.

  62. I loved watching Steven Fry's America and how he loved everywhere he went. Every little podunk town or roadside attraction, he was relentlessly positive and upbeat.

  63. I lived in Miami and when people ask why I hate it I have to really restrain myself to not go on a 20 minute rant. I sometimes like to describe it like “you know when you’re in line at a store and someone is on facetime screaming into their phone obnoxiously? Imagine a city of those people”

  64. Midland/Odessa, TX. Its two missirable cities close to each other in the middle of the Permian Oil Field. Your hours away from any other real city in west Texas. The population is basically all transitory-meaning it doubles in size during a oil boom and empties during a bust. When oil booms, it jacks the prices on everything, traffic sucks cause everyone can only live or stay in Midland or Odessa. Traffic fatalities there are the worst in Texas. I almost get in a wreck every time i drive down the parking lot rows at walmart. When it rains, I get the crude oil stench in my neighborhood. The meth is pretty top notch tho

  65. I lived in both those sun-dried shitholes for about 12 years. Odessa's city motto was: "Come here for oilfield work, stay because you got murdered."

  66. West Texas is a special hell, but Midland would rate as the 46th largest city in California. It's a city, but the only thing big about it is how sad it is.

  67. I stopped there on my way back from Big Bend. I’ve travelled all over Texas and was shocked to find that Beaumont had a sister city.

  68. midland odessa is awful no question. but really doesn't qualify as a "big city" even when you add them together.

  69. anyone saying Chicago has obviously never been to Chicago. Chicago is rated one of the best cities. Everyone gets hung up on the crime, and yes it has pretty bad crime in certain neighborhoods, but chicago doesn’t even have the highest crime rate in illinois, let alone the US. It has top tier public transportation, a beautiful lake front, diverse and awesome restaurants, and just a lot to do

  70. Totally agree! Having lived in Los Angeles, Chicago is probably the cleanest, nicest city I’ve ever lived in!

  71. And the best aquarium I’ve ever been to. haven’t been to a lot but F*CK I wish I lived at the Shedd. Chicago is my favorite of all the major cities I’ve been to

  72. Chicago is also extremely clean. I've had many late nights and early mornings there and I swear right when I go to bed an army of fucking street sweeping gnomes must flood the streets and finish right before I wake up. I don't understand it but I love it. Also, amazing city in many other aspects.

  73. Born and raised and never leaving. Let people think it’s a shithole. Keeps it nice and affordable for those of us who know better.

  74. I'm kind of shocked at how many people in this thread are firing off cities that they're actively admitting they've never been to. Like, cool, you've heard Detroit sucks, but how the fuck do you know if you haven't been there? Also, different people value different things - like NYC is loud, dirty, expensive, and super heterogeneous, but some people LOVE that energy and can't imagine living anywhere else. Other people despise NYC and wouldn't live there even if you paid them to do it. And neither type of person is right or wrong, they just value different things.

  75. My husband suggested that we go to a romantic southern town for our anniversary one year (we go on a trip rather than do gifts, highly recommend!), and I was like “hear me out, what about romantic…DETROIT?” He’s a car/beer/art nut, so we went to the original ford plant, that weird ford amusement park in Dearborn, the DIA, gawked at Art Deco architecture, had fantastic beer and some of the best middle eastern food of our lives, and we were still close enough by car to go to Grand Rapids (more beer/art/car stuff), Holland, and a little bit up the coastline of Lake Superior (a first for us). Detroit is one of my favorite places ever.

  76. I’m currently living in Phoenix right now and they do this thing where everyone puts their garbage outside and then the city has it all picked up. Like, not in the cans, but just in huge piles. But they don’t pick it up for months unless you live in a nice neighborhood. So in my shitty neighborhood there have been massive piles of garbage in front of everyone’s houses for like two whole months, with rain leeching who knows what out of it all, and wind blowing garbage all over the neighborhood. It’s so fucking stupid that I can’t help but laugh.

  77. Where in Phoenix? I grew up in Phoenix and only left 3 years ago, and I've never seen this except for maybe Maryvale or Sunnyslope.

  78. I lived in Phoenix my whole life. I have no idea what huge piles of garbage you were talking about? Are you talking about when somebody has something too big to put in the bin? If that’s the case they’re supposed to put it out there the day or day before it gets picked up.

  79. As a New Jerseyean I submit Camden. Place is like someone took everything bad about Philly and then forgot to add anything good except a battleship

  80. The mafia had their way with it long before the mills shutdown. It got its nickname of crime town USA in the 60s-70s I think.

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