There are many excellent places around the United States to raise a family, get a job, or have a fantastic life, but there are also a number of cities worth avoiding due to problems like rampant crime, economic instability, and general malaise that seems to infect the entire population. The top 10 worst cities in which to live in the country were once beacons of prosperity and the "American Way," but have lately become some of the nastiest areas of the country. The following represent the worst cities to live in the United States in 2013.
- 1. Springfield, MAScore: 66/100
© lazytom - flickr
Playing a significant role in the early development of the United States, Springfield, Massachusetts was visited by many of the nation's founding fathers such as George Washington in the 1770s. The city also bears the distinction of producing the first musket manufactured on American soil in 1774 at the National Armory at Springfield. Basketball fans might once have loved Springfield for its Basketball Hall of Fame, but today's Springfield offers parents a poor school system where less than three quarters of students graduate. Springfield also puts families in danger with an extraordinarily high rate of crime. The area is particularly rife with violent crimes and has more than double the state average. Learn more about Springfield, MA.
- 2. Hartford, CTScore: 67/100
© ragesoss - flickr
Another town important to early American history, Hartford, Connecticut was settled in the 1600s, and descendants of the first inhabitants of the town take their genealogy very seriously. Some historians even believe that the local town government was the foundation upon which the United States Constitution would be based. After centuries of growth and distinction as an important American city, Hartford began a decades-long decline in the 1950s from which it never recovered. Citizens have been packing up and leaving Hartford for decades, and the town even suffered the loss of its professional hockey team in the 1990s. Residents of today's Hartford will find a town infested with crime where violent crime is over 400 percent higher than the state average. Unfortunately, the city also offers its residents a level of income that is over 50 percent lower than the state average, which contributes to the discontent of the area's citizens. See the full report on Hartford, CT.
- 3. Detroit, MIScore: 67/100
© jmsmith000 - flickr
Once the shining beacon of America's automobile industry, Detroit, Michigan has fallen into one of the worst long term financial depressions of any major metropolitan area since The Great Depression. A small town that started out as a fur trading post prior to the colonial era Detroit would eventually grow to become America's largest and most powerful city. With the "Great Recession" of the last decade, however, the city has become a virtual ghost town with decaying homes and high crime. It is the current intent of the city government in Detroit to declare bankruptcy in 2013, which may create an even less habitable place to live. The number of empty houses in Michigan has created an exceptionally dangerous environment for residents, and the city boasts an incredible violent crime rate that exceeds the state average by over 700 percent. If any recovery is to come to Detroit, it will likely take decades. See more information and other detailed statistics about Detroit, MI.
- 4. Flint, MIScore: 68/100
© corneveaux - flickr
The history of Flint, Michigan stretches far beyond the arrival of Western settlers, and residents suggest that some of the earliest inhabited areas of the entire content were around Flint, Michigan. Made famous by Michael Moore's documentary "Roger & Me" the city has been associated with the rise and fall of the auto industry and the resulting desolation wrought by the failure of the largest employer in town.. Many of the residents in Flint are unemployed, the housing market is terrible, and the overall crime rate is twice that of Michigan. Shockingly, the violent crime rate is almost 800 percent higher than the state's average. Residents also have to deal with putting their children in crowded classrooms and median household income levels far below the state's average. Check out the full Flint, MI report here.
- 5. East Los Angeles, CAScore: 68/100
© amayzun - flickr
The vibrant history of Los Angeles is often forgotten in films today in favor of gritty dramas that take place in distinctly American cities like Chicago and New York City, but the valley that surrounds Los Angeles County has seen an amazing amount of change and revolution in its history. Some of the most violent protests against law enforcement have occurred in East Los Angeles, and residents have the battle scars to prove their run-ins with the law. The racial divides that cross Los Angeles are particularly evident in East Los Angeles where residents have to put up with expensive housing, lackluster employment levels, and high rates of crime that exceed the averages in the state. Students also don't have access to good education as East LA has a depressingly low high school graduation rate. See the full East Los Angeles, CA overview.
- 6. Philadelphia, PAScore: 68/100
© lhoon - flickr
Philadelphia's connection to the birth of the nation is something described in just about every history book in the country. From its early Swedish roots in the 1600s to its importance to the Industrial Revolution a few centuries later, the city has always had a strong sense of business and commerce. William Tod Helmuth once said that Philadelphia "kindled the fires of Wisdom and Knowledge". Unfortunately, only 71 percent of high school students in Philadelphia graduate from high school and many students head into a life of crime. Philadelphia has a violent crime rate that's over 300 percent higher than the state's average. In addition, workers don't make as much in Philadelphia as they do in other states so making enough money to survive is difficult. Vievw a more detailed report with demographic information about Philadelphia, PA.
- 7. Cleveland, OHScore: 68/100
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As a Midwestern city with a difficult past, Cleveland, Ohio has an interesting history with some of the most violent protests against Prohibition occurring on its streets early in the 20th century. Decades of corruption inside the city's government earned the city a fierce reputation that culminated in the 1960s with incredible protests connected to racial conflict. The cast of "The Drew Carey Show" might have tried to convince viewers that "Cleveland rocks," and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in the city, but a number of the city's features don't provide attractive living conditions or "rock" in any way, shape, or form. Residents are subjected to a crime rate that's over 700 percent higher than the state, and average income is particularly low. See the full Cleveland, OH breakdown.
- 8. Paterson, NJScore: 68/100
© lhoon - flickr
A large city in New Jersey Paterson earned the nickname of "The Silk City" during the 19th century due to heavy silk production that century, but a declining population hasn't allowed the city to fare that well in recent years. The city has an interesting connection to famous poets Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, but literary genius wasn't enough to improve conditions in the city. Residents must deal with a high crime rate and a very low number of students graduating from high school with less than 60 percent of students getting to enjoy a graduation walk in a cap and gown. In addition, the weather is usually not terrific, and there is high unemployment in the area. The complete Paterson, NJ report can be found here.
- 9. Anchorage, AKScore: 69/100
© dougbrown47 - flickr
Being able to stand six months of darkness is certainly a trial for residents of the far northern city of Anchorage, Alaska, and with roots as a construction port for the state the hardened residents certainly experience a harsh lifestyle. Anchorage was the site of one of the largest earthquakes ever seen in the world when in 1964, an earthquake measuring 9.2 shook the city. The weather that residents have to put up with is nothing less than terrible. If it's not snowing many feet each day, it's dark and cold, and the streets are filled with unplowed mountains of snow. The city government doesn't even bother to plow the roads. A detailed Anchorage, AK city overview can be seen here.
- 10. Buffalo, NYScore: 69/100
© e-lame - flickr
What started out as a tiny trading post centuries ago, eventually grew to be New York's second most-populous city and many decades of fighting between French and British forces kept the city in flux for many years before things settled down in the 1800s. Unfortunately, the city has experienced an incredible exodus of people since the 1960s when the population began plummeting from a high of 580K in 1950 to a low of 261K in 2010. Today's residents are forced to put up with low income potential, a decrepit housing market, and a crime-ridden city where violent crimes occur over 500 percent more often than other areas in New York State. Economic conditions in the city were so bad during the Great Recession that the city nearly went bankrupt. See the full city overview with Buffalo, NY crime and cost of living info.
You can refer to our Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The report is sortable, and it allows you to filter by the population as well as your preferred state.