Not long ago when visiting Walnut Creek, California, I catalogued one piece of stray litter during my five-day visit. One piece. In my beloved Brooklyn, I often don't get down the eight steps of my building's stoop before encountering the day's first scrap of detritus. New York City is an urban wonderland that is unlike anywhere in the world to live in or visit, it's an amazing place. But along with all of the vibrant energy and culture are sidewalks paved with litter and trees perpetually in bloom with tattered plastic shopping bags. We dodge rats and raccoons that skittishly scamper from from garbage can to garbage can, we maneuver around the spills of fallen to-go food containers and splatters of vomit to save our shoes, we abstain from breathing when passing epic mountains of rotting garbage on trash day, and we rely on our fine-tuned dog waste radar to avoid the repugnant plops, tiptoeing around them as if they were live land mines.
But is New York City the dirtiest city in the country? As part of the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers of Travel + Leisure rated 35 metropolitan areas on the features that make a city their number favorite, and by default, their least admired. From nightlife to shopping to food, to rudeness and filth, the rankings offer a snapshot of travelers' experiences with the nation's cities. Here's how the various metropolis raked in terms of filth and squalor.10. Houston
7. Dallas/Fort Worth
4. Los Angeles
2. New Orleans
1. New York City
So there you have it. Readers agree that New York is the nation's dirtiest city. And, yes, New York also rated number one for being the loudest and rudest city. (Although New Yorkers would argue, loudly, that that is just a matter of perception.) That said, the city that never sleeps also ranked first for its theater, stylish locals, and luxury stores.
To read the entire ranking, see America's Dirtiest Cities.