The dirtiest places in America

US, New Orleans (AFP Photo / Matthew Hinton)
Perhaps New Orleans should consider changing its nickname from “The Big Easy” to “The Big Dirty.” Or maybe “The Big, Really, Really Dirty.”

The Louisiana hot-spot known for its annual Mardi Gras parade and its associated debauchery-driven celebrations tops a list of the filthiest cities in America. Compiled by readers of Travel and Leisure magazine, this year’s list of America’s Dirtiest Cities puts NOLA right on top.

Sure New Orleans offers eclectic nightlife and historical landmarks, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is still evident in the Gulf Coast town which, when coupled with garbage and grime left behind by tourists, puts New Orleans at the top of this not-so-desirable chart. The city-wide allowance of open alcohol containers and 24-hour drinking might have a little to do with the city taking the gold in the 2011 edition of the list, as well.

Bruce Springsteen asked “Oh brother, are you gonna leave me wasting away on the streets of Philadelphia?” in his 1994 hit, though today that possibility may be more undesirable than ever. The City of Brotherly Love jumped up two spots to claim second place this year, which also was billed in the bottom five for the magazine’s style category and their environmentally aware list.

Los Angeles holds onto the number three spot for the second year in a row, thanks for sure to its notorious smog situation. Travel and Leisure also puts LA in last place for being pedestrian-friendly and in the bottom three for overall quality of life. Clearly the readers of the magazine are unfamiliar with the alluring appeal of downtown’s Skid Row, the four square city miles that holds around 8,000 of LA’s homeless.

Rounding out the top five this year are Memphis, Tennessee and New York City in fourth and fifth place, respectively, which offers residents of the Big Apple a little bit of hope for their hometown. While NYC might be the most expensive city in the nation, according to the magazine, it has dropped from the filthiest in 2010 to only number five this year.

Baltimore, Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta and Houston make up the rest of the top ten this year, and the official list goes on to compile all of the top (or bottom) cities. At number 20? Anchorage, Alaska.

Congrats are in order for the citizens of Boston, too. You’re marginally cleaner than Dallas. Good job!