1. FLINT, MI
“Flint, Michigan. Ugly, the water will kill you, and everyone’s on heroin.”
2. GALLUP, NM
“Gallup, NM. It is where humanity goes to die. Stayed overnight there in a run-down motel on a motorcycle trip and was never so happy to get out…”
3. GARY, IN
“Gary, Indiana. I was driving cross-country with my father, who is a musician. It was getting toward night and my dad was like, ‘Hey, Gary Indiana! Like the song! We HAVE to stay there tonight.’ Yeah, no. We pulled off the Interstate and were immediately in what looked like a good area to be robbed and shot. Then we got lost trying to find the Interstate again. My dad finally stopped at a gas station for directions, and I, an 18-year-old girl at the time, had a horrifying panic attack because I couldn’t decide where I was more likely to die: by leaving the safety of the car but sticking by my dad or by locking the car doors and hiding in the backseat by myself.
For the record, while I am a suburban white girl, I was raised a stone’s throw from NYC and was, at the time, driving my mom through some really bad neighborhoods 2-3x/month to go to a certain hospital for transplant follow-up. Like, gunshots a few streets over every now and again, especially if the appointments lasted towards dark. And I was fine. Maybe it was just that section of Gary, but I will never ever go there again. My dad, the most unflappable hippie you’ve ever met, was scared. This man walked right up to a schizophrenic man wielding a gun and talked him down. NOTHING shakes my father, but that place did.
4. ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
“Atlantic City. It’s like a tackier version of Las Vegas with added desolation behind the boardwalk.”
5. COLORADO CITY, AZ
“Colorado City, Arizona. Stopped for gas. All the locals stopped what they were doing and watched our every move. Nobody would speak to us even after we said hello. Strange.”
6. MCCOMB, MS
“McComb, Mississippi. My car broke down on the side of the road there when I was on my way to New Orleans. If it wasn’t for the generosity of a trucker named Mike, I probably never would have made it out. No joke, it was like that Bill Hicks bit where some redneck gives him a bunch of static for reading a book. Lots of ‘you aren’t from around here, boy’ types wandering about like the living dead.
I just did a quick Google search to see what’s shaking in McComb these days, and apparently it’s the fucking buildings.
Kramer Roof, home to the Jubilee Performing Arts Center and downtown McComb’s tallest building, crumbled onto itself just before 6 PM.
That place was only two stories up, so now every building in McComb is the tallest building.”
7. READING, PA
“Reading, PA. It feels like one big bad neighborhood. I saw Louis CK there on his last tour, and when the special came out (2017), he specifically called out Reading for being shitty.”
8. NIAGARA FALLS, NY
“Niagara Falls, NY. 20 years ago, it was a shithole. I drove through it recently and it is now a shithole with an awkwardly placed casino in it.”
9. BAKERSFIELD, CA
Some of the places in this thread are bad because of the high crime.
Some of them are here because they smell bad, or you can’t drink the water.
Bakersfield is a functioning town. It has reasonable employment. The roads work. The crime rate is somewhat high, but nothing too out of the ordinary. so why is it on here?
It is the closest thing to purgatory I have ever seen. It’s two hours from anything. It’s in the middle of the Californian desert between San Jose and LA. It’s hot, flat, and all the potentially interesting views are covered by oil pumps. There is nothing to do in Bakersfield, other than your odd movie theater or maybe bowling alley. But surely, surely it is cheap and affordable to live here?
No, it’s not. 1600 for a 2br apartment.
Bakersfield is the worst…”
10. AMARILLO, TX
“Amarillo. Neon, truckers, strip joints, and the stench of cattle. All stuck between two of the world’s worst tourist traps—the Big Texan and Cadillac Row—ridiculous.”
11. LAWTON, OK
“Lawton, OK. Tiny town outside Fort Sill. Was only there for seven weeks and that was seven weeks way too long.”
12. EL CENTRO, CA
“El Centro, CA. There is nothing there but fields, dirt, heat, and tweakers. It’s like the town embodiment of a Walmart, just poverty and hopelessness and people who are not quite right.”
13. SALINA, KS
“Salina, KS. I pulled in off the highway and there was a motel, a church, and a liquor store. Nothing says culinary excellence like building a meal from liquor store snacks. The room next to mine in the motel had plywood for the front door. There was a minivan across the parking lot that was selling something, as cars would come park right next to it throughout the night, a guy would run out the van into the said car, then back into his van. Meth deals can be fun to watch, I guess. The poor motel guy was the owner’s son, and he gave me the Wi-Fi password and wished me luck with it. No Wi-Fi. Atrocious. Around 11 PM a highway crew pulled up with some work trucks, and they rented out the two rooms to my left. Commence the middle-of-nowhere Kansas party. From the godawful country rap rock they were blasting to the presence of two loud friends that came later, I’ve seen and heard all I need to in regards to this little slice of heaven. Pretty sure the girls that showed up in the Honda were hookers as well, as one of them took another dude out back around for some Funtime, they talked in front of my door for about twenty minutes before heading to Actiontown. Such poetry, such America.”
14. ABERDEEN, WA
“Aberdeen, Washington. I spent a few days there doing some work for a local business, and it’s the most depressing place I have ever been to. It’s an old logging town that was exploited for its resources and never recovered after the Great Depression. I asked a bartender what sustains the town and he honestly could not give me an answer. You may have heard of it at some point as it is the hometown of Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. I can honestly say that after spending a few days there, I have a much better understanding of where grunge music came from.”
15. KILLEEN, TX
“Killeen, TX. What a shithole. Their Walmart had people so hideous you’d swear you were in a zombie apocalypse.”
16. EL PASO, TX
“El Paso. You would think a city of this size would have some meaningful infrastructure, but it is a clusterfuck. My one weekend there was marred with the most traffic accidents I have ever witnessed on a per-mile ratio in my life. It isn’t just the godawful drivers, it is the rolling labyrinth of mazes that they call a highway system that leads to this misery. When we first arrived, there were 11 accidents in a 14-mile stretch; what kind of ratio is that? On top of that, I watched cops pull people over for seemingly petty offenses all around the city. You’ll never see as many blue lights flickering in your life as you will on a drive through El Paso.
I can’t even begin to describe how much I hated this city. Take the traffic of LA, with the roads of Detroit, and the tourist navigation friendliness factor of the Mojave Desert, and you have El Paso.”
17. DUMAS, TX
“Dumas. Mother. Fucking. Texas. Worked there for 3 months and experienced 8 seasons. Sometimes 2-3 seasons in one day. 23* and snowing at 6 am to 95* at 3pm… And the wind. Holy shit. The wind. 20mph average. 40-45mph gust. All. Fucking. Day. It rained mud once. RAINED MUD. where the fuck does that happen?
Never again Dumas. Never again.”
18. MACON, GA
“Macon, GA. Tire blew out on a rental car near what looked exactly like a set for TWD and was threatened with being arrested for trespassing in an open parking lot. The entire vibe of the city was ‘Come to get murdered, stay for the crack.’”
19. PATERSON, NJ
“Paterson, NJ. Went there once to visit the embassy. Parked my car on the street (stupid). Walked a few blocks to get to the building. Was offered drugs about 3 or 4 times. Locked eyes with a young female drug addict who didn’t belong there. I felt really bad for her. Saw homeless people sleeping on benches and sidewalks on main busy streets. There’s a lot people with nothing to do just hanging around. It was about noon on a weekday. Had trouble finding the building, asked a cop to help me locate it because I didn’t feel like wandering around anymore in that town. I’ll never go back. There are no redeeming qualities of that place whatsoever.”
20. MANASSAS, VA
“I haven’t been to too many shitty places, but I’d like to share the story of Manassas, Virginia.
Manassas is the city I grew up in. It’s so devoid of culture we used to get excited when McDonalds had a new sandwich. It’s only aspiration is to house every name brand restaurant in America. It’s a town with a 7-11 next to a 7-11. The mall has never not smelled like mildew.
Manassas is the kind of town where, when you see it, you think ‘yeah, I can totally see how this is the sort of place where a man could be enough of a pure suburban shitstain that he got his dick cut off by his wife.’”
21. EAST ST. LOUIS, IL
“East St. Louis looks like something straight up out of Mad Max, it is post-apocalyptic with people burning trash and staring at you with 2X4s in hand and prostitutes missing chunks of hair waving at you in the middle of the day, also saw my first real-life tumble weed there. Ended up there by accident trying to get to Pop’s Music Venue and when my two friends and myself did, two cops pulled up to us and told us ‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE??!!! GO DOWN THIS STREET AND TAKE A RIGHT AND GET ON THE HIGHWAY NOW!!’”
22. REDDING, CA
“Redding, California. It’s hot, hot, hot, there’s nothing to do, nothing pretty to see, and the meth capital of Northern California.
It’s also the only place I’ve been where skinheads walking around sporting swastika tattoos doesn’t seem to bother anyone. After the first one I saw, sported on a skinhead walking down the street shirtless, I started to notice the city is white. All white.
Over the course of 3 days, I managed to spot six people who were anything not obviously white. My sister moved there, then promptly moved out 2 years later. Bought house, sold house.”
23. WICHITA, KS
“Wichita, KS was as interesting as the taste of cardboard. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough when I visited 10+ years ago.”
24. STOCKTON, CA
Central Valley. Hot as Hades. One of the most violent cities per capita. I visited some friends and we went out to eat at some super sketchy place with scary people.
I hated it, and swore I’d never return.”
25. PHOENIX, AZ
I lived there with my family for a little over a year and it was fucking miserable.
The city is massive and there’s more bad areas than good.
I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IF IT’S A ‘DRY HEAT’—120 degrees is still 120 mother fucking degrees! Want to know what that is in Celsius? 49. 49 fucking degrees.
Rampant racism. Whites, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians all hating on one another.
Couldn’t drink the tap water. Not only did it taste like salty pool water, there’d be advisories warning people to not to drink it, and in worst case scenarios, to not bathe in it. There was a water store down the street from us and we’d refill out 5-gallon water jugs each week so we could have safe water.
Despite having a pool, you couldn’t safely swim during the height of summer because the water would be too warm. Cannot tell you how many times we’d hear on the news of someone having heat stroke in the pool, and sometimes even drowning.
You live in the desert! Huzzah! It’s survival of the fittest and just about everything wants to fucking kill you! If it can’t do that, it will hurt you, very much! Just about everything bites, stings and is poisonous or venomous in some way. And scorpions! Scorpions fucking everywhere!
Aside from the heat, the weather was usually at some extreme. Torrential down pours, haboobs, flash floods, frosts… etc., etc.”
26. SYRACUSE, NY
“Syracuse, NY. A dingy, charmless, post-industrial city with some of the most soul-crushing weather imaginable. The cold, snow, and wind is absolutely brutal. It was like living in a Dickens novel for 8 months out of the year. It also has Lake Onondaga, which was (and might still be) the most polluted body of water in America. Oh, and Syracuse has no Uber (still!). Spent 4 years there and couldn’t wait to leave.”
27. UTICA, NY
“Utica, NY. When I was about 12, my parents and I were driving to a show where my mom would be performing; she was a singer-songwriter. On our way, the lug nuts on one of the tires became loose and, as I recall, the tire nearly came off on the highway. (I didn’t know much about cars at 12. I still don’t.) We ultimately got a tow and ended up in Utica. The town looks like someone left a regular town in the rain and forgot about it for a few decades. While we were waiting for whatever repair needed to be completed, I remember my dad asking the mechanic if there was a place to get dinner around town. ‘Burger King,’ he replied. My dad asked, ‘No, I mean, like a restaurant, somewhere you can sit down and have a meal.’ The mechanic replied, ‘Burger King has seats.’ Haven’t been back since.”
28. NEWARK, NJ
“Newark. I was there in the early 00’s doing some work at the airport to upgrade airfield lighting gear. The hotel where I was staying had a deal with the local police—there was an armed officer in the lobby at all times. The parking lot was surrounded with a 12-foot-high fence with razor wire across the top—it looked like something from East Germany. There were big warning signs everywhere about not leaving valuables in your car etc. All I remember is grey concrete, garbage, and what looked like misery and despair on the faces of the locals.”
29. CAMDEN, NJ
“Camden, NJ. I went there to get a hard to find beer with some friends. As soon as I get there, I see a guy riding his bike stop, puke, and just continue on like it was nothing. There was a liquor store nearly every block and it seemed like every person in the city made a pact to stop fixing things in the 80s (cars, buildings, roads, everything).”
30. FRESNO, CA
“Fresno, lived there for a year. No jobs, crime and gangs everywhere, homeless everywhere, poverty everywhere, corrupt police force, horrible summers, zero to do except drive to the coast or to the mountains. The worst year of my life I mean this literally. I’ve been gone for 7 years, the first 5 I woke up with reoccurring nightmares of living there again.”