December 3, 2013
SKANLYN’s Top Ten Worst Cities in America
Having had the opportunity to travel all around this great nation, I’ve gotten the chance to visit a lot of great places. I’ve also gotten the chance to visit a lot of terrible places. Since there’s no fun in writing or reading about the positive, over the next several days I will be counting down the top ten WORST cities in the United States.
#2. ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
If you like being raped, shot, having your car stolen, and having your house burned down then you’ll love St. Louis! If not, then maybe not so much. Exceeding the national average multi-fold with its ridiculously high rates of sexual assaults, gun crimes, auto-theft, and arson, St. Louis is a top contender every year for the title of Most Dangerous City in America. Though long-time rivals Camden, NJ and Detroit have taken the top spot more often, St. Louis still has a respectable number of wins under its belt.
A high crime rate is of course a bad thing for any municipality but it doesn’t necessarily make a city a bad city. People certainly didn’t flee or stop visiting New York and DC back in the 70’s and 80’s and Chicago is still bound to show up near the top of any “Best City” list despite its 500+ homicides over the last year. Hell, even Detroit has enough charm to keep itself off this list. Of course those cities, unlike St. Louis, actually have something other than crime to offer. On the other hand, if you ain’t being robbed, raped, murdered, or carjacked (or some combination thereof), you just ain’t experiencing St. Louis. Crime is literally all they have. Well, there’s also that big stupid piece of bent steel that rises over the skyline as a peculiar monument to western expansion.
Yes, I suppose if I am talking about St. Louis I am obligated to mention the Gateway Arch – the world’s oddest and most impractically shaped observation tower (it’s also perhaps the world’s most unnecessary one, overlooking a city that’s best left unobserved). Many people to whom I’ve spoken were actually surprised to learn that the Arch is not a mere metallic sculpture and that you can actually go inside it. Of course the question is then, why would you want to go inside it? The simple answer is that, other than being the victim of a violent crime, there’s just nothing else to do in St. Louis. And so I paid the ten dollars to take the “tram” ride up to the observatory. This so-called “tram”, as they call it, is actually a series of very claustrophobic pod-like gondolas on a semi-vertical chain that slowly pulls you to the top. One boards with six or so other people making things quite tight (especially so with the thick winter coats everyone was wearing on the frigid October day I visited). With only the most microscopic personal space between passengers and low ceilings that force you to hunch forward, the long, uncomfortable, and noisy ride to the top is torturous to say the least. When the tram finally comes to a stop, you exit to a steep upward staircase (handicapped persons are requested to please go fuck themselves), at the top of which is the very small, very narrow, and very crowded observation deck. On each side is a series of tiny windows projecting downward at a very non-ergonomic angle that makes looking out a window far more strenuous than you could ever imagine it would be. If you care to do so, however, you will see some quite majestic views. To the East is the Mississippi Riviera in all its flowing diarrhea-brown glory, the permanently docked riverboat casinos establishing it as a sort of Monte Carlo for trailer trash. To the West is a spectacular bird’s eye view of the cityscape. On a clear day you can actually see beyond the studio backlot façade of downtown to the real St. Louis – a place of dilapidated houses and plywood-boarded store-fronts, a land where bullets swarm through the air like mosquitoes on a humid summer night and where chalk outlines turn the sidewalks into a virtual portrait gallery memorializing the latest casualties of the ongoing turf war between the Boys of Destruction and the Horseshoe Posse. There is a certain amount of peace you feel while you’re up there though. After all, it is probably the safest place in this war zone of a city even with the wind nearly blowing it over at times, the constant threat of shifting tectonic plates, and the possibility of an unannounced tornado coming along and tearing it to pieces.
Intensely dangerous yet thoroughly unexciting – St. Louis is a land of contradictory extremes. Its climate of brutally hot summers and bitterly cold winters seems only fitting for a city that gives residents and visitors alike the worst of both worlds in every respect.
Will your city be #1???