Though dwelling on negativity is generally unproductive, there are times when it becomes necessary. For instance, while many travelers compile lists of the world’s most beautiful cities, a recent online discussion saw experienced travelers taking a different approach. They decided to flip the script and revealed the world’s ugliest cities, offering eye-opening revelations.
1. Mumbai, India
Mumbai is what happens when unfathomable wealth is used to prop up the elite while the working class suffers in squalor. “The city holds the world’s most expensive private residence ever built for one man and is surrounded by slums that hold almost three million people,” laments one woman. A quick Google search verifies this claim – it’s astounding to see!
2. Los Angeles, California, United States
Most visitors are shocked when they see Los Angeles for the first time. Instead of the vibrant and luxurious city that Hollywood films had promised them, they’re greeted by a town suffering from urban blight to the highest degree – with a severe homeless problem. So while some parts of the city – like Beverly Hills – are beautiful, most of Los Angeles is quite unpleasant to look at.
One user noted, “I’ve never seen a city with so much trash everywhere, all over the roads and highways.” Several others agreed that Los Angeles was anything but what you see in the movies before one clarified, “Skid Row is the worst.”
3. Norilsk, Russia
During the U.S.S.R.’s heyday in the Cold War era, cities were hastily constructed to fit a quickly-expanding population. Unfortunately, in 2023, Norilsk is the perfect example of a town that needs to meet the expectations of a thriving metropolis. “Not only does it look ugly and depressing with old Soviet-style buildings and nearly-nonexistent vegetation, but it’s also highly polluted and cold.”
4. Bucharest, Romania
Coined by many as the ugliest capital city in Europe, Bucharest has a laundry list of problems it needs to rectify. From a lack of running water in many areas to unpaved streets to a borderline-ancient sewage system, Bucharest is a city I think I’ll never visit!
5. São Paulo, Brazil
It’s no secret that Brazil’s society has seen better days. But, unfortunately, things will likely worsen for cities like São Paulo before they get better. “I’m sorry, but São Paulo takes the cake – it’s worse than all other cities combined,” explains one woman. “Twenty million people there, in a depressing gray jungle of concrete and asphalt.”
6. San Francisco, California, United States
Based on the city’s rolling hills and breathtaking bodies of water, conventional wisdom states San Francisco would be regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world – however, that isn’t the case.
In 2023, everyone has heard of the homeless population problem running rampant in the streets of San Francisco, turning the once-thriving city into a worst-case scenario for many residents. The situation has gotten out of control with no real solution.
One woman shared that her dad warned her not to get her hopes up before visiting San Francisco. “The city was so ugly. It’s not colorful. It’s almost grey. It reeked of urine and feces. Everyone was so rude. The only thing I enjoyed looking at was the Golden State Bridge. It made me sad to see how many homeless people there were and how poorly others treated them. It made me never want to visit another big city.”
7. Riverton, Wyoming, United States
There’s a big difference between a dull and old-fashioned city and a town that has been seriously neglected over the years! Unfortunately, Riverton falls into the latter category. “It’s dusty, bland, and just kinda sad,” confesses one woman. “Everything there looks worn out, and there’s a huge and ugly casino just outside of town that nobody ever goes to. Wyoming is home to many very pretty locations, but Riverton is not one of them.”
8. Manila, Philippines
According to many travelers who’ve been there, there is nothing good to say about Manila. Manila starkly contrasts many of the Philippines’ pristine and dream-like beach towns – its overpopulation, terrible public transportation, and overall lack of city development and beautification do its citizens a disservice.
9. New York City, New York, United States
To this day, New York City is a beacon of light for many immigrants looking to achieve the American dream. However, it’s shocking for many people to discover that the city is ugly. While many people point to the city’s thriving culture, innovative economic and social institutions, and history, nothing can cover the fact that the city desperately needs a facelift.
One user noted, “Specifically Lower Manhattan, near Governor’s Island. I’ve gone to New York several times, but this area felt depressing, much more than the rest if you can even believe that.” Several others explained there were trash and giant rats everywhere.
10. Temirtau, Kazakhstan
Thanks to a seemingly neverending drug problem among its population and urban decay as far as the eye can see, Temirtau is easily one of the ugliest cities in the world. Many travelers admit they’re stunned by the sheer amount of abandoned buildings and empty storefronts, in addition to the complete lack of city beautification programs.
11. Gary, Indiana
One traveler shared, “I was hitchhiking from Tennessee to Wisconsin when I was 19, and I got dropped off in Gary, Indiana. I could not catch a ride after two days of trying, so I spent what money I had on a Greyhound to Chicago.
I had to walk through a large portion of the city from where I was to the station, and it was the tensest and most depressing walk I’d ever taken. So yeah, Gary, by a long mile.”
12. Niagara Falls, New York
Another volunteered, “Niagara Falls, New York. The area over by the Falls. It wasn’t too bad back in the day. But walk twenty minutes, and you were in the middle of terrible-looking housing with trash piled seven feet high.” Several others agreed that the only decent part of Niagara Falls is on the Canadian side.
13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I hate to put it down because I had a good time there, but my answer is Philadelphia,” one explained. “I just found it run down, with bad streets, lots of closed up, empty spaces. I haven’t been to the west coast, so I am sure I would have a different answer if I did.”
14. Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Coming in at number five on this Reddit list is Scottsbluff, Nebraska. One user clarified that it is riddled with gang life. Several users in the thread, myself included, confessed to never putting gangs and Nebraska in the same thought.
15. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennesee, was listed by many as one of the ugliest cities in the beautiful United States of America. One noted, “Memphis. Even the nice parts aren’t very nice. The rough parts are, well, rough.”
16. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana, was listed as being an ugly city. Someone clarified, “Besides maybe the French Quarter and the Garden District, New Orleans is a terrible city.”
17. Seattle, Washington
Okay, I’m not even mad that my hometown made this list because what was said about it is accurate, and why I left! They explained, “Seattle, Washington….the only color I saw was a little girl’s red coat. Gray, rainy, and colorless. Seasonal depression rates must be through the roof.”
18. Paducah, Kentucky
Someone volunteered, “Paducah, Kentucky. I was there nearly 15 years ago. I can’t say what it’s like now, but I wasn’t a fan—never seen so many kids smoking.” Several people agreed with this statement.
19. Detroit, Michigan
Several Americans nominated Detroit, Michigan, as one of the ugliest cities they’ve ever seen, noting the abandoned cars and buildings everywhere.
I’ve also been to Detroit, and it’s the most shocking experience in any U.S. city, including Baltimore. The number of rundown areas covered in mattresses and garbage when I drove through was overwhelming. Also, the first time I ever witnessed tennis shoes hanging all over the telephone wires.
20. El Reno, Oklahoma
Another city that made Reddit’s ugly city list is El Reno, Oklahoma. It resides outside of Oklahoma City. One confessed, “I stayed there while traveling through the region. It was hit by a tornado a few years later, and the place probably looked better afterward.”
21. Clovis, New Mexico
Many Americans agreed that Clovis, New Mexico, is a cesspool of unattractive. One explained, ” Flies for days due to dairy farms and constant odor of cow manure.”
22. Douglas, Arizona
Several people in the thread argued that Vail, Arizona, was ruined by people moving into cramped homes that destroyed the desert. However, the consensus was that Douglas, Arizona is much uglier. One added, “And I’ve been to third-world countries.”
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