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Tennessine

What Are the Ugliest Cities in the U.S.?

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Some posts in the transit thread this week sparked my negativity. Which cities in the United States, whether you have visited them or not, are the ugliest? Which ones have the worst urban planning? Try to limit your responses to large cities only (preferably with MSAs or CSAs above 1 million residents).

The ugliest city that I have visited is Albuquerque, NM. It's full of parking lots and short, stubby buildings with bland façades. To its credit, the buildings are pretty concentrated, so it earns some points for restricting sprawl.

Albuquerque:

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Granted, I had a great time in Albuquerque, but I have to say it is the ugliest city I have ever visited.

 

I would have to say the ugliest American city is Lubbock, Texas. I've never been, but you have to admit that this looks pretty atrocious:

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To make matters worse, THIS is a picture from the Lubbock city website. It has to be pretty bad if this is the best they can come up with.

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My dad refers to Lubbock as "The Asshole of the Universe."

I haven't been, but that's certainly not a ringing endorsement.

 

Albuquerque isn't much to look at from a building perspective, but at least the setting is pretty nice.

 

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The pioneer travel writer John Gunther was once asked this question during a “Today” show interview. His reply to the question of “ugliest” US city was Knoxville, TN.

Based on my travels the list of ugliest cities would also include: 

Albuquerque, NM

Jackson, MS

Memphis, TN

Oklahoma City, OK

Columbia, SC

Mobile, AL

 

Edited by dxfret
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On 10/19/2019 at 12:23 PM, dxfret said:

The pioneer travel writer John Gunther was once asked this question during a “Today” show interview. His reply to the question of “ugliest” US city was Knoxville, TN.

Based on my travels the list of ugliest cities would also include: 

Albuquerque, NM

Jackson, MS

Memphis, TN

Oklahoma City, OK

Columbia, SC

Mobile, AL

 

Wasn't he a mid-20th century figure? Knoxville has changed drastically since then.

 

I'd have to disagree with OKC being on your list. It doesn't have great scenery (I mean, it's Oklahoma) but the city itself is nice and clean. The Devon Energy building is a beauty. I think the rest of its skyline is nice too. It's an up-and-coming place.

Memphis is a cool city from certain angles, but it looks hideous in many parts of downtown. But the Bluff City is far, far away from the ugliness of Lubbock and Amarillo.

I've heard Tulsa and Omaha aren't very pleasing to look at or be in, but I have not visited either city.

Moving south, Jacksonville and and Tallahassee, Florida were among the uglier cities I've visited. I didn't really like Columbia, SC either.

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Jax is very bland, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily uglier than most cities. Columbia isn't so ugly as it's just rather "light"... being there's not much urbanity there. The capitol area is nice and the university in the other direction but beyond about 2-4 blocks there's not much worth seeing. Tulsa is actually in an area with somewhat attractive topography. The downtown has been ravaged in the middle 20th century but there are quite a number of nice vistas. Never been to Omaha.  I actually like Mobile, but it's not big. For whatever reason, it reminds me a little of Columbia... but I can't explain why. Jackson MS is truly a depressed area, but if the city can right itself, it has some nice bones. Only passed north of Abq on I-40 on about 4 different occasions, but must admit I've never been compelled to explore it. It looks like the usual southwestern hub cities (a'la Lubbock, about which I'd agree with the board here).  Going back, to my list above... Ft. Smith, AR is the city with the least redeeming qualities of any I've ever seen. 

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On 10/19/2019 at 1:23 PM, dxfret said:

The pioneer travel writer John Gunther was once asked this question during a “Today” show interview. His reply to the question of “ugliest” US city was Knoxville, TN.

Based on my travels the list of ugliest cities would also include: 

Albuquerque, NM

Jackson, MS

Memphis, TN

Oklahoma City, OK

Columbia, SC

Mobile, AL

 

Although I strongly dislike Columbia I wouldn’t say it’s “ugly”.  I would say it’s boring about 10 years behind, and the people are stupid and backwards lol

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There are obvious picks like Gary and East Saint Louis that have been mentioned, but that feels like kicking a guy while he's down.  So my list looks like this in no particular order:

Jackson, MS

Montgomery, AL

Topeka, KS

Evansville, IN

Amarillo, TX

Lubbock, TX

Tucson, AZ

Reno, NV

Fresno, CA

Bakersfield, CA

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Okay now I have recently been to Lubbock while their downtown is nothing to brag about they have a fantastic museum there the National Ranching Heritage Museum where restored farm houses are place on the property.  And of course Buddy Holly Plaza.  Here are shots from October.  With just a one night stay there I found plenty to take photos of for sure.  The famous Texas state bison herd is about 1 hour out of town.  Photos from November.   Evie Mae's BBQ one of the best anywhere period.  and Don't Mess with Texas!   and yes some cities are butt ugly for sure but there is beauty everywhere across the fruited plain. 

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Not ugly,  just Charlotte tonight.  Many buildings lit blue for Autism Awareness Day. 

 

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That monolithic government complex is absolutely dystopian and detracts from their beautiful capitol building. 

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Ugh... yeah, Albany would probably be one of the more beautiful cities in this entire country had they not destroyed half the old city for their comic book space port complex with adjoining interchange and built that highway that completely cuts the city off from the river... what a shame.

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So, ugliest US cities that I've been to would have to be, in no particular order:

- Camden, NJ
- Albuquerque, NM
- Phoenix, AZ
- Trenton, NJ
- Bakersfield, CA
- Virginia Beach, VA (unpopular opinion, but I briefly lived there and found that it was nothing more than a big suburb with a trashy beach resort attached)
- The suburbs between Baltimore and DC

Ugliest city I've ever had the pleasure of spending any significant time in though isn't in the US. It's Milton Keynes, England. I'll take some pictures next time I'm there, but it's oppressive in its awfulness. It was designed and built from the ground up in the 1960s, and has every hallmark of bad urbanism of that era. It takes a few swags at being approachable, but it fails miserably. They attempted to design multiple, mixed-use, independent-but-connected neighborhoods (good), but separated them all into blocks with large, high capacity, high speed roads (bad). They designed large green spaces and public parks (good), but peppered them with brutalist, non-human-scale landscaping (bad). They developed a central business district with shopping, businesses, hotels, and entertainment spaces (good), but gave them all the charm of a suburban shopping mall surrounded by concrete and asphalt lots (bad). It results in a dingy, dusty landscape that comes off as being too big and claustrophobic at the same time. Not to mention absurdly confusing to navigate because everywhere looks exactly the same.
 

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On 4/4/2020 at 10:44 PM, Tennessine said:

God, Albany looks like a Soviet city.

I've been various cities in the old Soviet Union (post-Berlin Wall) several times, all before I ever set foot in Albany. But when those government buildings first came into view, I had an immediate visceral reaction, and a little bit of disorientation. Like, "Whoa! Where am I? :dunno:"

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3 hours ago, Exile said:

I've been various cities in the old Soviet Union (post-Berlin Wall) several times, all before I ever set foot in Albany. But when those government buildings first came into view, I had an immediate visceral reaction, and a little bit of disorientation. Like, "Whoa! Where am I? :dunno:"

The only thing that makes it look something other than Soviet are the freeways! It's astonishing.

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9 hours ago, eastsider said:

Sounds like nobody has  ever been to Odessa, TX. Hands down the ugliest place I have ever seen.

With Midland a close second?

Forgot about those cities.

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I've been to all fifty states, most of them multiple times and have done a lot of really long road trips so I've seen some seriously ugly cities!  People always made fun of my home town Butte, Montana for not being the prettiest town although it has a lot of sentimental importance to me.  Now Billings is truly an abomination and always has the smell of oil in the air from refineries!  But I have to agree with a couple of you who pointed out those homely towns in Texas out in the middle of the flat plains like Amarillo, Odessa and Lubbock (although I visited Buddy Holly's grave there).  Laredo and Brownsville are also hellholes although I loved the Tex-Mex food down there.  Oh, and then there's North Dakota, the whole damn state is butt ugly and gets my vote as the least desirable state in the union!    

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I found Amarillo a lot more interesting than Lubbock.  from last fall.  I have been to all 50 states as well and I agree the TX border towns are nothing to look at though El Paso is very nice.  

all photos from Amarillo TX

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