And America’s Dirtiest City Is…

The fine folks at Travel + Leisure magazine have done the math, and this year's number one may surprise you. (Or not.)

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Times Square in New York City.

Which city in America ranks first for rats, garbage and overall yuckiness? Travel + Leisure polled their readers on 35 metropolitan areas in the U.S. to find out exactly what it takes to be the Nation’s Dirtiest City.

And the winner (or loser): New York City. Gotham jumps to the top of the list, up four spots from last year, although as a consolation prize the city also ranked number one in “theater, stylish locals, and luxury stores.”

New Orleans comes in second place, while Baltimore, Md. rounds out the top three. Some characteristics become apparent throughout the list: Most “dirty” towns are big cities with a booming nightlife. Travel + Leisure also points out that most of these “dirty cities” often do their fair share to keep squalor off the streets.

America’s top 10 dirtiest cities are:

  1. New York City, NY
  2. New Orleans, LA
  3. Baltimore, MD
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. Philadelphia, PA
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  8. Miami, FL
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Houston, TX

See the full list here.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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The American State Litter Scorecard (updated monthly) is cited in this TRAVEL+LEISURE article. The Scorecard author mentioned many listed "Dirtiest Cities" have high populations of "profiled" litterers and dumpers-- Youths and young adults are most prone/willing to litter and dump trash. Educating the young will go a long ways in cleaning up these cities.


But at the same time NY is the greenest per capita, more people walk there than in any other American city. To measure how dirty a city is should take into account how much dirt(pollution) a city send to other cities and to the rest of the planet. You might find out that those "clean" city models combined create more dirt than the NY model, in other words, dirty NY makes America cleaner than the "clean" cities.