Thursday, June 16, 2011

America's Dirtiest Cities

Travel + Leisure joined the ranks of magazines that have taken to publishing unvalidated surveys in lieu of actual articles. And typical to these sorts of surveys, instead of looking for the best in our American cities, it pits us against each other to showcase the bottom.

America's Dirtiest Cities puts Philadelphia at #2, behind New Orleans. This is probably pretty accurate. We're dirty. I've seen cops throw fast food wrappers out of patrol car windows. That is the example we set.

To their credit, Travel + Leisure does a good job of pointing out the subjectivity of the survey. Obviously, with New Orleans at the bottom of the list, America's more gritty cities seem to be the most interesting.

Unfortunately, Travel + Leisure's kudos end there. The "article" goes on to tie in another irrelevant survey, somehow making the awkward segway that our proported lack of style has something to do with absent cleanliness. Much like another survey that pegged Philadelphians as America's "ugliest", aside from New York, America's most "stylish" cities are also its least diverse.

We often equate cleanliness with clinical homogeneity, and apparently attractiveness and style. San Diego might be clean but there is visual poetry in our blight. Clean means bland. It's a dry hoagie. And I like ours smothered in dressing.

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