Not all American cities had the foresight to plan well. Americans took to an online forum to vent about the terrible urban planning in their cities. Do you live in one of them?
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Austin, Texas
Austin would’ve been better off remaining small, observes a commenter. “It’s a big city that can accommodate 1/4th its size.” Another person agreed, adding, “Every major Texas city is an urban planning disaster and all in extremely different ways.”
2: Boston, Massachusetts
Cows ruled the roost in Boston first, says one former university student. “Boston was laid out by cow paths and not in some nice grid system.” They knew they were going to have a rough time when “for the first time at my university, I got lost and came to the corner of Tremont and Tremont.”
3: Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is getting inspiration from the wrong cities, according to one American. “Any rail or public transit proposals are shot down.” So, where does Nashville get its urban planning inspiration from, according to them? Houston, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
4: Mobile, Alabama
How many intersections are too many? Seven sounds about right. “Mobile has a lot of weird 7-way intersections,” comments a person who doesn’t love driving in the city.
5: Houston, Texas
Newsflash, non-Texans: Houston is a parking lot. That’s how one commenter describes the city’s poor urban planning, coupled with “some buildings slashed in.”
6: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach residents are no strangers to poor urban planning. One person describes it as a “suburb of Norfolk” since “everything is 20 minutes apart.” It’s hard for tourists to argue with that; “Its fake downtown is 20 min from the oceanfront resort area, which is also 20 min from its municipal offices.”
7: Atlanta, Georgia
An Atlanta visitor says they “wouldn’t live there on a bet,” claiming it’s the city with the worst urban planning in the U.S. What makes it extra frustrating to them is that “they developed a pretty good rapid rail system in the late 80s, but the metro area was too short-sighted to continue expanding it.” That means “every rush hour is a complete nightmare, basically lasting from 6-9 am and 3-7 pm.”
8: Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is an utter mess because Interstates 70 and 35 hit it. “Far from enabling people to get everywhere, they make it impossible to get anywhere,” says one commenter. Residents have two choices: take a 40-mile detour around the city or fight their way through traffic and accidents.
9: Los Angeles, California
It likely comes as little surprise to people familiar with Los Angeles that the City of Angels has poor urban planning. “The city was built with a very sprawling, car-centric design, resulting in its legendary traffic problems,” offers a person familiar with the city.
The bright side? “Things do seem to be gradually improving in recent years, thanks to some investments in public transport.”
One American muses which U.S. city has the worst urban planning is a “hard question to answer.” They explain that any city built post World War II “will seem like it was terribly planned due to its now massive reliance on cars.” In contrast, “old cities like New York and Philadelphia will seem ok.”
A Silver Lining
At least the U.S. isn’t an unlucky Greek Island. One commenter says, “There’s a Greek island that laid out its roads to confuse pirates/invaders, so all roads circle back to the port. If you think you’re going to hustle up into the rich part of town, you just end up back at your ship.” Now there’s something to be thankful for.
Best Urban Layout
“As a counter,” says one commenter, “I’d like to pitch Chicago as the best-designed city. It’s laid out logically in grids, has decent public transit, and unlike New York, the city is very clean.” They acknowledged that Chicago “had the opportunity to rebuild itself from the ground up after the Chicago fire.”
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