Are Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio unforgivably grimy? Yes, according to a new Travel + Leisure list that purports to rank twenty of America’s dirtiest cities.
How did these cities land on this undesirable list? The magazine polled its readers. But the criteria they used to calculate a city’s cruddiness are vague—some factors include air pollution, litter, and vermin. Having a vibrant nightlife scene full of young people also seems to negatively impact a city’s ranking, because, in the words of Steve Spacek, author of the American State Litter Scorecard, “[s]tudies have consistently found that youths and young adults are the most prone, or willing, to litter.”
The DFW Metroplex broke into the “Dirtiest 10,” coming in at no. 7, in part because it has the least number of public parks of any major metropolitan area.
Travel + Leisure ranked Houston tenth, in part due to the city’s poor air quality and ozone levels, which landed the Bayou City on the American Lung Association’s list of the most polluted American cities.
San Antonio retained its no. 16 slot from last year’s list, and the blurb about the River City seems to lightly diss the Alamo: “The Texas city has festive flea markets, barbecue, and a legendary old fort—and none of them are known for being pristine.”
New York City, apparently grimier today than in its Giuliani era, topped the list.
But, while the blurbs about each city list flaws, each entry also contains a line highlighting each city’s most pleasant features. It’s as if the local Chamber of Commerce was allowed to weigh in. (Dallas doesn’t have parks but it has lots of sports arenas! Stay inside in Houston by visiting the city’s highly ranked burger joints and antique shops!)