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14 Frustrating (and Wrong) Reputations U.S. Cities Have

Upset residents of some cities want Americans to know this: Stereotypes aren’t always true. These are the most unfair reputations they say certain U.S. cities have.

Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar. 

1: Detroit Is Scary

Detroit skyline.
Photo Credit: Icholakov01 via Depositphotos.

Yes, Detroit is admittedly “a little rough around the edges,” says one Detroit local. However, it “has come a long way” and is a “vibrant city with a great history.” They live in metro Detroit, which they describe as being similar to where they grew up on Long Island, minus the ocean and availability of quality bagels.

2: Las Vegas Equals the Strip

Las Vegas sign.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

There’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip, says a Las Vegas resident, who points out that’s all of their city most tourists see. “You can live there and enjoy its diversity, the endless choice of restaurants, and the abundance of nature nearby without ever stepping foot on the Strip.”

The icing on the cake? Las Vegas “is also cheaper than other cities with the same amenities, and does a great job managing its water supply despite being in the desert.”

3: Cleveland Isn’t Worth Your Time

Cleveland, Ohio skyline.
Photo Credit: Sepavone via Depositphotos.

“Cleveland is slept on,” argues a commenter about the worst stereotypes cities have in the U.S. Although many Americans assume it’s a boring city, several people came to Cleveland’s defense, saying, “Unlike Columbus, Cleveland feels like a real city” and has an excellent restaurant scene.

4: Salt Lake City Is for Mormons

Salt Lake City lit up at night.
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Yup, you’ll find a fair share of Mormons in Salt Lake City. But the fact that many Americans think Salt Lake City is a “no-fun-allowed” and backward 19th-century place just isn’t true, many commenters say.

5: Los Angeles Only Has Hollywood

Palm trees in Los Angeles.
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Los Angeles is so much more than Hollywood and Santa Monica Pier, says one person who admits to disliking both places. However, they caution people against judging LA based on them. Los Angeles “is a huge city with no shortage of things to see and do. The problem is, you often need to do research and have time to find them.”

6: Chicago Is Dangerous

The bean in Chicago.
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A former Chicago tourist says it’s unfair that so many Americans picture the Windy City as being full of crime and nothing more. They describe Chicago as “a beautiful, vibrant metropolis with a lot to offer.”

7: Huntsville Has Nothing

Huntsville, Alabama.
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Huntsville is now the largest city in Alabama, passing Montgomery, says a commenter who’s passionate about Alabama as a whole. They say many people don’t realize Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and “the greatest Minor League baseball team,” though they admit to being biased on the latter.

8: New Jersey Shore Is Atlantic City

Liberty State Park, New Jersey.
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Although not a city per se, one commenter says, “Jersey Shore is much nicer than the image portrayed by that awful TV show [Jersey Shore].” The exception? Atlantic City, which they describe as truly “awful.”

9: Sacramento Isn’t a Cowtown

Sacramento state capitol.
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“Most people don’t realize Sacramento metro sits between Pittsburgh and Portland’s metro size,” retorts a commenter to people who call it a “cowtown.” They say it’s a shame California’s more well-known tourist spots overshadow Sacramento.

10: Washington, DC Is All Politics

American flag at Capitol Hill.
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Yes, much of Washington, DC, revolves around politics. But a commenter says the city has an unfair reputation “for no other reason than its name is used as shorthand for a lot of nasty political discourse in this country.” Regardless of your political views, they insist, “It’s really a lovely city.”

11: Philadelphia Is Expensive

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania skyline.
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A frequent visitor to Philadelphia with family roots in the city says people assume Philly is filled with “high crime [and] outrageous prices.” They find it “really odd.”

12: Cincinnati Is a Rust Belt City

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Sure, Cincinnati is on the small side, admits one person. However, they say it has the unfair reputation of people assuming it’s a “burned out rust belt city.”

13: Flagstaff Is Warm

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Yup, Flagstaff gets blazingly hot during summer days. But as one Arizona tourist realized, the city also gets freezing cold. “It was sleeting and snowing,” they said.

14: Mobile Has a Southern Vibe

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Mobile, Alabama, is unfairly lumped with other Southern cities, says a commenter. They say this is a mistake, for the city is “a very eclectic mix of French, British, Spanish and African culture and architecture.”

No Room for Bad

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Negative city stereotypes, be gone. One thoughtful commenter ponders that they’ve found “if you actually go out in the real world, try things, and meet people, things are typically pretty good everywhere.”

Politics Change Perception

Man standing in front of Democrat and Republican symbol.
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Another person believes politics influence Americans’ perception of any given city or state, even when it “flies in the face of extremely obvious facts.” Case in point? “Chicago doesn’t have a particularly high murder rate,” and “Texas and California culturally have way more in common than either one does with any other state.”

Note: Chicago had the highest number of homicides in the U.S. in 2022. However, it didn’t have among the highest homicides from a per capita perspective.

Source: Reddit.

15 “Forgotten” US Cities

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New York City and Los Angeles, be gone. These are the most forgotten U.S. cities that Americans want fellow citizens and foreigners to visit.

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18 Flat-Out Lies Americans Believe

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From IRS inconsistencies to marrying the partner of one’s “dreams,” these are the lies that far too many Americans believe.

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20 Things Foreigners Take Too Seriously About the US

Frustrated woman.
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Yellow American cheese and horrible gaps in bathroom stalls, anyone? Americans shed light on what foreigners get all wrong about The Land of the Free.

20 Things Foreigners Take Too Seriously About the US According to Americans

15 Most Charming Small Southern Towns

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From beautiful architecture to beach getaways and mom-and-pop shops serving local food, these small southern towns give Americans a refreshing break from their busy routines.

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Chuckle-Worthy American Town Names

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Ready for a laugh? These American town names are guaranteed to make you giggle.

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