American Cities That Have A Really Poor Reputation

Published on 12/18/2019
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Occasionally, cities get infamous for having a horrible reputation. There are cities in the U.S. that have developed a terrible reputation even if they do not deserve it! We have listed 45 American cities that are starting to suffer severely from the poor reputation they have. Hopefully, they will start improving things, but we do think many improvements can be seen any time soon. The stats for this list come from FBI statistics, the U.S. Census, and the U.S. Department of Labor unless otherwise stated.

Oso, Washington

Oso, Washington is a census-designated place (or a small town) located north of Seattle. In 2014, the town made headlines infamously for being the site of a terrible mudslide which killed 43 residents. What is worse is that when environmental experts carried out investigations into geological surveys, they found out that it had been already known that the place was prone to mudslides. While the place may not be highly violent, getting killed there still feels too easy!

Oso, Washington

Oso, Washington

Farmington, New Mexico

Farmington is an America metropolitan area with the dubious distinction of having the greatest population loss these past 6 years. According to Wall 24/7, the city’s population decreased by 8.76% between 2010 and 2015. A terrible chemical spill at the Halliburton facility back in 2006 and several civil rights investigations likely helped bring about the decline.

Farmington, New Mexico

Farmington, New Mexico

Detroit, Michigan

Out of the major cities, Detroit has had the second-most dramatic decline in population in the last century. Since its population peaked during the 1950 census, it has fallen by 63.8%. This tax base loss has led to the city itself declaring bankruptcy. Dilapidated and abandoned houses litter the city, which likely scare off potential residents.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis may be well-known for its cool landmarks like the Union Station, Gateway Arch and St. Louis Zoo, but this American heartland city earned a bad rap due to a few seedy statistics. St. Louis has the “distinction” of being the top U.S. city when it comes to the most cosmetic surgeons per capita and the highest obesity and violence rates. It is basically screaming “Stay away!”

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri

Reno, Nevada

Reno has been on a continuing decline for years since tourists choose to visit the casinos in Las Vegas or California. Reno cannot really compete with the other large Nevada city, so it has decided to reinvent itself. While larger companies are moving there, celebrities, such as Amy Schumer, still give Reno a bad reputation by referring to it as “a dump.” Although things are improving in the city, a great deal remains to be done.

Reno, Nevada

Reno, Nevada

Cleveland, Ohio

One of the biggest issues with Cleveland is its unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in January 2017, the city had a 6.5%unemployment rate. In July 2019, the government resource showed that the unemployment rate was at 5.1%. While it is definitely good news that the rate is dropping, Cleveland has a history of unemployment spiking dramatically.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Camden, New Jersey

Camden used to be a major hub for manufacturing for companies like General Electric and RCA, but the city is now among the most dangerous American cities, according to NBC Philadelphia. In fact, Camden’s crime rate in 2012 was one of the worst in the entire nation – it was 6.6 times higher compared to the national average. According to Courier Post in 2019, there was a 19.5% drop in violent crimes and 16.9% in non-violent offenses. This is indeed great news, but the crime rate in Camden is still 225% above the national average.

Camden, New Jersey

Camden, New Jersey

Memphis, Tennessee

There’s a lot to see—like great museums, the Memphis Zoo and Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home—but this city has a reputation for being a high-crime area, and it’s not undeserved. According to the FBI, the crime rate in Memphis is at 1,142 for every 100,000 people – 209% above the national average. Even worse, people who have been Memphis residents for decades are starting to move out of the bustling city. It may be hard for other people to take it if the natives themselves cannot.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

Stockton, California

Stockton has been working on crawling out of debt by reinvigorating the economy, but there is still a lot to be done. While the city hopes to learn from past mistakes, the crime rate is making it difficult to accomplish things. According to the FBI, there are 795 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, which is 115% above the national average. The cutbacks in the city’s police force – mostly because of lack of funding – only exacerbates the situation. It’s not a really encouraging combo.

Stockton, California

Stockton, California

New Haven, Connecticut

The home of Yale University, the Knights of Columbus’ headquarters, and President George Bush’s birthplace, New Haven is in the greater metropolitan area of New York. Even though it has a lot going for it, the city is consistently ranked high on lists of dangerous cities. It seems as if nowhere is safe these days.

New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven, Connecticut

Flint, Michigan

Flint used to be a thriving auto industry town, but the municipal water supply is now pure poison. The city has landed in a state of emergency due to off-the-charts lead content caused by cost-cutting measures. The place is not safe for both residents and visitors.

Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan

Oakland, California

San Francisco’s neighbor has been dealing with the major issue of crime since the 1960s. It is difficult for Oakland to keep violence in check in the picturesque waterfront city due to a traditionally poor relationship between the community and law enforcement and a consistently dwindling police force. Forbes has ranked the city first in violent robberies nationwide but the good news is Oakland may be improving. According to Guardian, gun violence has dropped 30%, though the city has had 103 cases of homicide in the first half of 2019.

Oakland, California

Oakland, California

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City has a lot going for it, but it is hard to ignore its epidemic of violence. In 2016, Chicago had 762 homicides—the largest number of cases in 19 years. Some of the contributing factors are drug activity and many years of gang factions which operate like well-oiled machines. It is definitely sad when violence becomes a part of everyday life in a city such as this, but Chicago Police have some good news. Chicago has undertaken historic reforms since 2016, which seems to be helping. There were 100 fewer murders in 2018 compared to the year 2017 and the shootings decreased by 14%.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Modesto, California

Agro-centric Modesto is the birthplace of George Lucas, the Star Wars director, and the home of the Gallo Family Winery. There is a lot to do around the Central Valley city, but its reputation—fraught with street gangs, sky-high unemployment rates, and foreclosures—can give visitors pause. It seems like a once-great town which has simply given up. According to the FBI, there are 576 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, 56% above the national average.

Modesto, California

Modesto, California

Hartford, Connecticut

This Connecticut city’s reputation is not that great, but the unsavory assessment of it being unsafe seems to apply only to problematic pockets and not the whole metropolis. While downtown is relatively safe, tourists are advised against visiting the area called North End. Good luck navigating that mess, though!

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Jacksonville, Florida

In northeastern Florida, Jacksonville has the largest U.S. urban park system, but the reputation of the city is not quite a picnic. While heavily populated J-ville is not all bad, it is wise to stay away from the Arlington Expressway and northwest quadrant, where concerns of gang-on-gang violence is mostly concentrated. It is a sad story that we have heard many times before. The FBI reports that Jacksonville’s crime rate sits at 452 per 100,000 people, 22% above the national average.

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Jackson, Mississippi

Unfortunately for Jackson, its unemployment rate is higher than that of the state in general. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate sat at 5.3% as of July 2019. In addition, the poverty rate in Jackson is worse compared to the state percentage. According to the U.S. Census, 28.9% of people living in Jackson lived in poverty in 2017. There is also a common occurrence of boil water alerts – something that does not add up to a city’s reputation of taking care of its citizens.

Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

Las Vegas, Nevada

Human trafficking has been a major issue for Las Vegas–something no one wants their city to be known for. Underage trafficking has become such a major problem that there are now huge training sessions being held so that people can learn to protect themselves. The city has managed to recover 2,229 victims since 1994, but that number pales in comparison to how many people go missing every year. The Las Vegas Police reports that each year, there are “roughly 400 children picked off the streets.” In addition, the U.S. Justice Department named Las Vegas as one of the 17 most likely places for human trafficking.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Steubenville, Ohio

Steubenville is part of the Midwestern United States’ Rust Belt, and just like other areas in this region, there has been a consistent population decline, which started after a peak in the ‘40s. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the city has lost 52% of its people since 1940. Add to that its reputation for political corruption (specifically involving the police force) and the high school rape case in 2012 which made national headlines, Steubenville has not had positive news for quite some time. It appears to be another sad Midwest town that is in decline.

Steubenville, Ohio

Steubenville, Ohio

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

The U.S. Census reports that between 2010 and 2016, Johnstown had the third-largest population decline out of the 382 most populous United States metropolitan statistical areas wh. Roughly 6% of the city’s residents have looked for job opportunities elsewhere. As a matter of fact, Johnstown has not experienced an increase in its population since before the 1930census. It seems people cannot leave Johnstown fast enough.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Charleston, West Virginia

The capital of West Virginia, Charleston is perhaps the best symbol of a coal-based economy’s decline. The area is pleasant enough, but job prospects have dwindled. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population has declined from 85,800 in 1960 to just roughly 47,215 (estimated) today. The jobs (and residents) are likely never coming back.

Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia

Baltimore, Maryland

If there is a bit of good news for Baltimore, it is that despite the city’s population having been declining since the 1960s, those who are moving are actually being absorbed by the suburbs. The city may have lost 1% of its residents in the past five years but the population in the metropolitan area has grown by 3% (the U.S. Census reports). That being said, there has been some unsavory headlines about Baltimore, particularly around its police force and race relations, in recent years. Then again, the city has never been high on any “Best Of” lists.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff, unfortunately, has the distinction of being the U.S. metropolitan area with the highest population decline since 2010, the U.S. Census reports. It lost 26.97% of its people from 1990 to 2018. In addition, it does not really have a reputation for being a safe place to live.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Gary, Indiana

Gary, just like other Rust Belt cities, has lost population since the national trend is for people to move further South and West. However, this isn’t really a recent phenomenon as Gary has experienced a continuous population decline since the 1960s, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The population dropped 57% from its peak. You can say that this town’s days are numbered.

Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo has also seen population loss. It has done a lot to revive its formerly manufacturing-heavy economy, but even with all the work, the unemployment rate still sits at 4.4% as of mid-2019, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York

Wilmington, Delaware

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate in Wilmington, Delaware currently sits at 4.1%. While it is not the highest on this list, it is still higher than the state rate (3.5%). Almost 27% of the people of the largest city in Delaware live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Definitely not fun if you are one of these people.

Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware

Albany, Georgia

Albany, Georgia has a poverty rate of 33.2%, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. The state of Georgia’s poverty rate as a whole is 14.3%. If you compare the numbers, things aren’t looking that great for the city. The area has lost almost 3% of its population since 2010. Clearly, good-paying jobs aren’t here.

Albany, Georgia

Albany, Georgia

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The good news is that Milwaukee is recovering from a population loss. The bad news is that it is still among the most segregated cities in the country when it comes to racial distribution of the places people live in. It’s a town that continues to struggle.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Homestead, Florida

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 27.1% of Homestead’s citizens live below the poverty line. In addition, Hispanic residents are disproportionately affected by that poverty. The bulk of the Homestead’s residents are actually Hispanic. It does not seem like a city which inspires hope.

Homestead, Florida

Homestead, Florida

McAllen, Texas

In 2017, the poverty rate in McAllen was at 25.2%, while Texas as a whole was at 14.9%, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, McAllen residents suffer disproportionately from a large number of health problems. A whopping 38.5% of adult residents are classified as obese and 21% of the city’s population is diagnosed with diabetes, as revealed by a new Gallup-Healthways poll. Even worse, almost a third of its people lack healthcare coverage. It doesn’t seem like a place to raise a healthy family!

McAllen, Texas

McAllen, Texas

Texarkana, Texas

Small town Texarkana is located on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Aside from being known for having a horrible smell due to a paper mill, the tiny town became infamous after five people were murdered within only three months. The murders later inspired the movie titled The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Texarkana is not really a bastion of a charming small town.

Texarkana, Texas

Texarkana, Texas

Portsmouth, Virginia

Aside from experiencing a population decline, Portsmouth also has the highest incidence of unemployment in Virginia. Based on the stats that the U.S. Department of Labor released (taken in 2016), the unemployment rate in the state is at 3.8%, but Portsmouth sits at a whopping 6.7%, which makes it among the hardest cities in Virginia to land a job in. It is a mystery why anyone would think about living in such a place.

Portsmouth, Virginia

Portsmouth, Virginia

Tacoma, Washington

Yet another city with an unemployment rate that is higher than the state average, Tacoma sits at 5.8% while Washington is at 4.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, this city is among the most dangerous in Washington. FBI statistics show that there were 947 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the city in 2016. Seems like unemployment and violence go hand in hand.

Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma, Washington

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson is probably the most dangerous Arizona city, with 801 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, according to FBI Statistics – nearly double the state average. Aside from that, poverty levels are incredibly high in Tucson. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 25% of people in Tucson live in poverty, which means it has the highest poverty rate of all the cities in the state.

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Parkersburg City is among the poorest in the entire country. The poverty rate in this West Virginia city is 25.2% while the national rate is 11.8% (both stats from the U.S. Census Bureau). Aside from that, Parkersburg’s hospital system is one of the worst and 16% of the patients get readmitted to hospitals within just a month of their first discharge, the 24/7 Wall St. reports. We wonder what is keeping these residents sick.

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Laramie, Wyoming

Laramie’s poverty rate of 26% is almost twice as high as the national average, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Aside from the poverty rate being depressing, housing costs in this city are incredibly high as well. The average housing cost is more than five times Laramie’s median income, which is much higher compared to the 3:1 national housing affordability ratio. That is a combination that does not help anyone.

Laramie, Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

Mobile, Alabama

Alabama has a poverty rate of 16.19%, but Mobile’s poverty rate sits at a hefty 22.4%, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Even worse, the unemployment rate in Mobile is 4.9% as of mid-2019. Mobile is a city that is hard to live in, and as a result, its population has decreased significantly in the past five years. It is now only a shadow of the great Southern city it once was.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Little Rock, Arkansas

Aside from being the most dangerous Arkansas city, Little Rock is among the most dangerous cities in the United States as well. The FBI Statistics reveal that in 2016, 1,533 violent crimes were committed per 100,000 people, which is more than twice the national and state averages. In addition, there is a higher risk of a natural disaster like tornadoes occurring. If the residents do not get you, mother nature will.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

Pueblo, Colorado

Pueblo residents face difficulty when trying to find a job since the unemployment rate in the city sits at 4.1% and is above the state average, the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports. Based on stats from the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in Pueblo is at 18.2%, making it the city with the highest poverty levels in all of Colorado. Aside from that, the crime rate is abysmal since in 2016 alone, there were 1,081 violent crimes committed (via FBI stats). It is highly unlikely that this city is the reason people come to Colorado.

Pueblo, Colorado

Pueblo, Colorado

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is definitely the most dangerous Kentucky city. According to the FBI, 750 violent crimes were committed per 100,000 people, which means that the city’s rate is more than three times the state average. Aside from that, the city’s unemployment rate is the highest in the state and the poverty rate is at a whopping 16.7%, the U.S. Census reports.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Shreveport, Louisiana

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, as of July 2019, Shreveport’s unemployment rate is 5.2%, making it the most unemployed city in Louisiana. Because of the weak job market, there have been high poverty rates and low incomes within the city. The poverty rate in Shreveport sits at 25.7%, which is lower compared to previous years, but high enough to be a cause for concern.

Shreveport, Louisiana

Shreveport, Louisiana

Anchorage, Alaska

It might not seem like Anchorage is a dangerous place, but of all the cities in Alaska, Anchorage has the highest number of violent crimes, with 1,114 committed for every 100,000 people, the FBI statistics reveal. People in the city also have a hard time finding jobs, which leads to a high unemployment rate, though the number seems to be going down based on the U.S. Department of Labor stats.

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

Springfield, Massachusetts

Because of the high crime and poverty rates, Springfield has earned the worst reputation in Massachusetts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in the city sits at 28.7%, which means one in four people lives below the poverty line. In addition, crime is a growing concern in Springfield, where there were 1,031 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, the FBI statistics revealed. It is clear that things are not going in the right direction.

Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts

Rockford, Illinois

For years now, Rockford’s economy has been struggling, which has resulted in a weak job market. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s unemployment rate as of July 2019 is 6.6%, the highest in the state. The FBI also released its 2016 data which revealed that Rockford is a dangerous city as well. There were 1,658 violent crimes committed for every 100,000 people, which makes Rockford one of the cities in the country with the highest crime rates.

Rockford, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois

Aurora, Colorado

The crime rate in Aurora, Colorado is extremely high, 84% higher than the state average. For this reason, a lot of Colorado-natives do not want to drive through Aurora. The good news is that the number of violent crimes has been falling in the past 20 years. However, Aurora’s reputation has yet to improve.

Aurora, Colorado

Aurora, Colorado

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