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


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As far as major cities go, hands down Phoenix. Tallest building 483 feet, no cutting edge architecture to speak of. They have not had a new tallest in almost 50 years.

The skyline is split in two by a major distance as they were hoping it would grow together but that still has not happened. Tons of surface lots and non descript buildings littering the landscape and in the words of D Trump, a total disaster.

 

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I agree with those who say Knoxville isn't much to look at.  I don't know that I'd call it ugly, but it's just very underwhelming.  Natural beauty?  Yes.  Otherwise, it ranks about a 7 out of 10 on th

This thread sounds like a recipe for disaster.

God, Albany looks like a Soviet city.

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Yes Phoenix's skyline is underwhelming for sure but it is like an LA very spread out but they do have something Nashville would like a fairly nice light rail line.  Links the airport, downtown,  stadiums, arenas, suburbs, Arizona State etc. 

img_2020-01-23_Light-Rail-System-Map.jpg

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I don't mean to keep dumping on Phoenix, but I'm not sure how much bragging rights a metro area of five million people deserves for having one light rail line... but yes, I do wish Nashville had something similar, and to Phoenix's credit they do appear to be expanding it, so good for them for, no pun intended, getting aboard that train.

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I have to be honest, I think Chattanooga looks awful when you're passing through it on the interstate. I know it's a totally different story downtown, but it's really depressing as you drive along 24. The drive through Chattanooga along I-24 is the ugliest urban scene in the state of Tennessee.

It also does not have a developed skyline for its size. It's behind peer cities Asheville, Lexington and Knoxville in this metric. I don't understand how people will fawn over Chattanooga and hate on Knoxville at the same time.

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As a Noogan, I'm very disappointed in our skyline, but the effort has been admirable to fill in the core. Ours is a strange city inasmuch as it was considered a peer of Nashville and Knoxville as 'recently' as 1950. We didn't have the capitol/state government or the flagship university to serve as growth engine; so Chattanooga was passed over during the 1950s-1980s... a period of very strong growth, albeit mostly suburban. Atlanta's suburbs became urban by 1990, but the core became hollowed out.  Chattanooga languished, and even the suburbs grew slowly. One positive thing about that was that our classic downtown was not 'renewed' to the extend other cities were. But the stagnant state of our core came at a huge cost. I've said that we are still a 'plantation' in some regards. There are the Lookout Mountain and Northshore power bases... Signal to a bit lesser extent, but there's still a bit of an absentee landlord mentality when it comes to downtown. Granted, things have improved vastly over the past 30 years, but that's been because young people discovered the gem of an unspoiled urban core. Also, it's been very helpful that UT-C has spread its wings. So the future looks bright, especially in light of the flight that's sure to come from the cities where mayors are turning a blind eye to the riots and violence. We've already welcomed two families with young children from Atlanta to our neighborhood in the past month. We've also seen families move from Mi, Il, Oh, and (yes) Portland, Or.. The families from Atlanta have a total of 9 children, and both sets of parents have said Atlanta has become too violent and too 'unlivable' for them. Nooga is in a good spot... hopefully we'll get more height in the downtown, but not anytime soon. 

Edited by MLBrumby
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Here's another way of looking at Knoxville's modest skyline.  Knoxville today is very similar to what Nashville was in 1980.  Knoxville's metropolitan area today has a population of 869,046, and Knox County has a population of 470,313.  In 1980 Nashville had a metropolitan population of 850,505, and Davidson County had a 1980 population of 477,811.  Almost identical.  But let's compare the two skylines.  Here's Nashville in 1980.  Keep in mind that the state hadn't built any high rises yet, and what we now call Tennessee Tower was still the American General Insurance building.  So we can't attribute Nashville's larger skyline to state office buildings.

397507850_d5ec363edb_b.jpg

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Compared to Knoxville today:

depositphotos_288264802-stock-video-knoxville-tennessee-usa-downtown-skyline.jpg

9186c9561cb13078033b92c9167b73df.jpg

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I hope Knoxvillians won't be stupid enough to demolish most of those beautiful old buildings downtown like Nashville's 'brightest' did... the National Life buildings... the Sudekum/Tennessee Theater... the Market Street Block at Church... numerous hotels... Genesco... LIfeway, etc.  Knoxville is already ahead of where Nashville was then. 

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17 minutes ago, MLBrumby said:

I hope Knoxvillians won't be stupid enough to demolish most of those beautiful old buildings downtown like Nashville's 'brightest' did... the National Life buildings... the Sudekum/Tennessee Theater... the Market Street Block at Church... numerous hotels... Genesco... LIfeway, etc.  Knoxville is already ahead of where Nashville was then. 

Yes, in that respect Knoxville is ahead.  Nashville is kind of a victim of its own success, where more modest buildings were demolished to make way for larger buildings.  Unfortunately, many of the larger buildings didn't have the architectural charm of the buildings they replaced.  Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis have some true gems in their downtowns which Nashville is lacking.

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16 minutes ago, MLBrumby said:

I hope Knoxvillians won't be stupid enough to demolish most of those beautiful old buildings downtown like Nashville's 'brightest' did... the National Life buildings... the Sudekum/Tennessee Theater... the Market Street Block at Church... numerous hotels... Genesco... LIfeway, etc.  Knoxville is already ahead of where Nashville was then. 

Curious as to why Knoxville, with its proximity to I-75, didn't explode.  When I see all the growth and development along I40 & 840 with the distribution centers and warehouses... Knoxville would be perfect for that.  Maybe it's too close to Atlanta?  Maybe the landscape is too "hilly" for real industrial growth?  

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8 hours ago, TheRaglander said:

Curious as to why Knoxville, with its proximity to I-75, didn't explode.  When I see all the growth and development along I40 & 840 with the distribution centers and warehouses... Knoxville would be perfect for that.  Maybe it's too close to Atlanta?  Maybe the landscape is too "hilly" for real industrial growth?  

That's something I've wondered, too.  In 1960, before the construction of the interstate highways, Nashville and Knoxville had almost identical metropolitan populations:   399.743 and 400,335, respectively (Knoxville slightly larger).  I think Knoxville and Chattanooga got shafted when it came to interstate highways, partly because of the very hilly topography of the area, and in Knoxville's case also because of Oak Ridge.  I heard rumors that the feds did not want an interstate highway too close to Oak Ridge, hence why I-75 was diverted through downtown Knoxville.  It was so poorly designed, too.  If you were heading north on I-75 through Knoxville, at one point you were funneled onto a one-lane ramp at downtown Knoxville.  North of downtown, I-75 threaded through some very industrial areas of Knoxville with crazy and confusing interchanges at Baxter Ave and Woodland Ave before being squeezed through Sharp's Gap.

I-640 was built as a bypass to downtown in time for the 1982 World's Fair, but it was only 2 lanes in each direction, and it was outdated almost as soon as it opened.  For that matter, I-40 was only 2 lanes in each direction through downtown Knoxville which caused massive traffic congestion even during non peak hours.  It was a mess and was finally widened to 3 lanes in each direction just 10 or so years ago.  In addition, Knoxville's two largest suburbs, Maryville and Oak Ridge, were both deprived of direct interstate access.  Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162) was eventually built to connect Oak Ridge to West Knoxville, but only sort of.  The four-lane section ended right before entering Oak Ridge, and again all traffic was funneled onto a 2-lane road.  At one time, well after the interstates were built, it was impossible to drive to Oak Ridge without at some point being on a 2-lane road.  Eventually 162 was extended all the way to Alcoa, and the section between I-40 and Alcoa was christened I-140.  But it's still just 2 lanes in each direction, and from what I understand there is massive opposition to extending 140 to Maryville.

In the early part of the 2000s TDOT proposed building a new bypass, this one really more of a correction of how I-75 should've been routed from the very beginning, according to TDOT.  Here's what TDOT proposed:

stateMap.gif

But it was going to cost $1 billion (which means it would've ended up costing a lot more), and they figured it wouldn't solve Knoxville's traffic woes, so in 2010 it was scrapped.  While I agree that the cost was exorbitant, it certainly would've opened up a lot more territory to commercial development.

Edited by jmtunafish
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I married a Knoxville gal. Going to my in-laws has been an education about TN's third largest city. Some things to note, it's oriented in a NE/SW direction because of topography/river. I've thought for a long time that it's probably the best value (place) for a middle class family in the state. The suburbs are very nice and lushly landscaped. The parks and lake access are plentiful and it's very clean. A family with an income of $100K-125K can live in a very nice neighborhood only about 5-10 miles from the core (more on that later). The core has not grown for several reasons. Which of course, brings us to some of the decisions the city's leaders have made. I've long thought that K'ville (I'll use that as proxy to its civic leaders) was not motivated to 'go after' real growth drivers during the second half of the 20th century. Part of that has to do with the fact the flagship university is there. That means the city/area (esp. with Oak Ridge) gets a disproportionately large share of tax dollars. Second, the university faculty/community are not the sort who welcome blue collar type jobs. There's an enormous amount of white collar/professional jobs in K'ville. And of course, the students add another dimension of nightlife/entertainment outlets to the area. So they haven't been motivated to guild the lily (as many there would see it).  I think that even more so than Nashville in the 1960s-1990s, K'ville is more against growth for growth's sake than Nashville was. Let's not overlook the fact that it is considered the chief city nearest the nation's most visited park and six weekends in the fall, it is the focus of the whole state. And there's something about any college town that's a lot more subjective... people in such places expect their young adults to leave after college.  So K'ville doesn't worry about 'losing' to other places.  Despite that, the area has grown fairly healthily. It's the second largest county that is home to an SEC school. It's pushing a million in MSA population. And it's a very nice community. It will hit a huge growth streak in about ten years, and I expect it to center around technology, healthcare and (no surprise) educational enterprises. I just had a day trip to K'ville yesterday... and had a three-day trip to Greensboro last week. I've got to say that TN's 'third city' is vastly more appealing than NC's 'third largest' city.  The folks there just don't think they need to open the spigot on growth. 

Having said that, what is the construction project going up at Henley and Hill Streets. Large crane... next to the old Miller's Building (Now UT department)? 

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On 7/21/2020 at 5:20 PM, jmtunafish said:

I-640 was built as a bypass to downtown in time for the 1982 World's Fair, but it was only 2 lanes in each direction, and it was outdated almost as soon as it opened.  For that matter, I-40 was only 2 lanes in each direction through downtown Knoxville which caused massive traffic congestion even during non peak hours.  It was a mess and was finally widened to 3 lanes in each direction just 10 or so years ago.  In addition, Knoxville's two largest suburbs, Maryville and Oak Ridge, were both deprived of direct interstate access.  Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162) was eventually built to connect Oak Ridge to West Knoxville, but only sort of.  The four-lane section ended right before entering Oak Ridge, and again all traffic was funneled onto a 2-lane road.  At one time, well after the interstates were built, it was impossible to drive to Oak Ridge without at some point being on a 2-lane road.  Eventually 162 was extended all the way to Alcoa, and the section between I-40 and Alcoa was christened I-140.  But it's still just 2 lanes in each direction, and from what I understand there is massive opposition to extending 140 to Maryville.

 

Pellisippi Parkway is supposed to intersect 321 near Heritage High School.    I grew up in Alcoa and have fished all along Little River from the Smokies to Rockford, and have heard that since the early 80's.   Blount County had the longest running Federal Construction project at one time with the Missing Link of the Foothills Parkway.   I consider this to be the missing link of Pellissippi Parkway because it will take awhile to finish.

On 3/18/2020 at 5:35 PM, MLBrumby said:

How small are we going... it's a city... Ft. Smith's very ugly. 

I think Pine Bluff rivals it pretty good.   Sioux City Iowa and Sioux Falls SD are right up there as well.

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