OUR TERRIBLE NATION  2:36 pm May 14, 2009

America’s Most Depressing Places

by Ken Layne

Home sweet home.Detroit, the Inland Empire, East St. Louis, Yuma (?!), some place in Ohio — these and other such grim spots have been named America’s Most Depressing Places, by the Business Insider website, which is apparently about depressing places. Did your hometown make the list? Did you know “West Palm Beach” is also one of the grimmest places in America? It’s probably true! [Business Insider]

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Rush May 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I hear Greenwich and Darien CT are shanty towns since the AIG bonuses were taken away.

Custerwolf May 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Joe Clusterstock does not appear to be depressed at all.

Noodle Salad May 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Wasilla can’t make this list because everyone is too hopped up on meth and/or fertility drugs to be depressed.

Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Did you know “West Palm Beach” is also one of the grimmest places in America?

Doesn’t mAnn Coulter supposedly live there? She brings her own blight with her.

TGY May 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm

The inclusion of Alpharetta surprised me. It seems like a nice place, from what I’ve seen of it, and it’s only a ‘burb of Atlanta.

Custerwolf May 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm

The house in that photo looks very similar to the one my boyfriend and I just finished quilting.

sanantonerose May 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Celebration, Florida depressed the hell out of me.

WadISay May 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Last year when the murder rate dropped in the city [Detroit], the mayor joked that the reason was that “there is no one left to kill.”

Mayor quits sexting long enough to earn a Wonkette star.

x111e7thst May 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm
engulfedinflames May 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

butte, montana, 3am, missing persons posters and packs of feral dogs roaming the slag heaps in other-worldly light.

Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

All the places mentioned in California are in the heart of blood-red wingnuttia. I’m willing to bet that 90% of the other places are, too. Detroit is blue, but wingnut laissez-faire capitalism pretty much wiped it out.

So, once more, thanks repugs. Keep up the good work.

JMP May 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Well, with the war on drugs ending, I’ve got just the cure for our nation’s depression.

proudgrampa May 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I’m surprised Salt Lake City isn’t on the list. It has one of the highest rates of anti-depressant drugs in the country. And if you lived here, you’d know why…

arclight May 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I’ve lived in Ohio nearly all of my life and I have never, ever heard of Mahoning Valley.

Special Agent Jack Mehoff May 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Hey, neat! I live in a town adjacent to beautiful East St. Louis! An interesting aside on that booming metropolis: Sometime in the sixties E.St Louis was named by some magazine as THE most cosmopolitan city in the U.S.

Custerwolf May 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm

[re=316783]proudgrampa[/re]: Since when did they start doing prescription meds in Utah? I thought their cure for depression was to round up a couple of underage virgins.

Mahousu May 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Hey, the dog track at West Palm Beach is a bright and cheery place! Well, for a grubby windowless concrete box, at least.

Terry May 14, 2009 at 3:04 pm

“Did you know “West Palm Beach” is also one of the grimmest places in America?”

The mere fact that everyone eats lunch at 4:30pm and has a coupon is grim in itself.

proudgrampa May 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm

[re=316813]Custerwolf[/re]: Ah, you have to be Temple-worthy to get that!

Mild Midwesterner May 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Oh, I can remember back to my childhood when I used to visit my aunt in Kokomo. I would lie in bed at night, look up at the stars, and think to myself, “Hey! Where the hell is the ceiling?”

queeraselvis v 2.0 May 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Hey Zadig, Memphis didn’t make the list! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

dijetlo May 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I though Michael Steeles house and the RNC headquarters were at least worth an honorable mention

Monsieur Grumpe May 14, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I would have given #2 to Texas or Dick Cheney’s pants.

Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm

If that house from Wichita was in San Francisco, they could call it a “fixer-upper” and get $650,000 for it.

Cape Clod May 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I’m suprised that New Bedford, MA never makes these lists. It’s had three industries go belly up over the last one hundred years, (Whaling, fishing and textiles), has a skyline that looks like one of those ‘After People’ programs and has an ambiance at street level that reminds me of Belfast during The Troubles.

queeraselvis v 2.0 May 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm

[re=316849]Monsieur Grumpe[/re]: Win.

ihasasad May 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Not way down in Kokomo!!!!!

Naked Bunny with a Whip May 14, 2009 at 3:24 pm

At least “Rush Limbaugh’s Bed” wasn’t on the list.

Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm

[re=316865]Cape Clod[/re]: I’m from Boston originally. All those old Massachusetts mill towns have a sort of stale creepiness to them. Like they’re waiting for Vaudeville to make a comeback, or something.

Custerwolf May 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm

[re=316829]proudgrampa[/re]: Can’t just forge a prescription, eh?

Cape Clod May 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

[re=316879]Joshua Norton[/re]: I know. Taunton, Lowell, Fall River, they all need to be torn down and given a reboot.

SwanSwanH May 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Easy fix for Kokomo, Ind.: bring back the topless shoe-shine.

Bearbloke May 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Don’t forget dusty dreary Fargo, ND, with it’s grey skies and Chinese-made Harley/Mt. Rushmore tourist crap… it’s an especially big letdown after one crosses the REAL Red River (not that sewer in the Sovereign Christian Republic of Texistan) from green leafy pleasant Moorhead, MN (where all the girls wear kneepads – so book your trip today!)…

mush May 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

You know, I was looking for somewhere close that had HoboBeans® for sale!

Bearbloke May 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm

[re=316833]Mild Midwesterner[/re]: win.

Blender May 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Ha! My hometown is #2! No wonder I still cry myself to sleep sometimes, twenty years after I turned 12 and got the hell out of there.

A Better American Than YOU May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Ah, the benefits of living in a small, Alabama town where we have grits/polenta and cheerleader/Rhodes scholars. But let’s wait a generation for Hyundai and Kia to go belly-up and see how much saengseon gui we can find then.

springfield_meltdown May 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Yuma is only not depressing if you are 70 years old and living in an RV. It’s the kind of place where it is unusual if you don’t have a kid by the time you are 20 and everyone has stole a car and went to Mexico at least once.

Johnny Zhivago May 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

They left one off: RNC National H.Q.

ellie May 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I may be crazy, but I love Detroit! I hope it can rebound.

Jukesgrrl May 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Most of the places on this list got there for obvious financial reasons. I don’t know what Yuma’s excuse is, except sheer ugliness. I have to go there about twice a year on business and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. Every time I drive into town there is a hotel, shopping center, casino, or quasi-government building that wasn’t there the last time. Last month I noticed a big, shiny Dillards. All over the country department stores are closing but Yuma has a new one. I’m sure we have the US military to thank for this. Yeah, I guess that IS depressing.

Mark Sanford May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm


Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm

[re=316998]Mark Sanford[/re]: Nope. Disneyland took that slogan. Except after going there one HOT Labor Day weekend, I was tempted to sue them for false advertising.

Bruno May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm

The best way to make a depressing place into an hottt place to go total liberatarianism. Legalized pot, prostitution, gambling, polar bear hunting, etc. This is the only way to capture the tourist dollars. Plus no regulation is bound to create plenty of lucrative Ponzi scheme jobs and extortion rackets.

edgydrifter May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Cosmopolis, WA, missed the list–but only because every BI investigator sent there promptly committed suicide. Rain + Meth + Fog + Unemployment + Mildew + White Supremacists + More Rain = Oh God, I’m Putting My Head In A Plastic Bag.

Joshua Norton May 14, 2009 at 4:39 pm

[re=317009]edgydrifter[/re]: You’d kiss the ground after a Labor Day weekend at Disneyland.

oudemia May 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm

[re=316791]arclight[/re]: Mahoning Valley just means Youngstown and the stuff near it. I have no idea why, then, they didn’t just say Youngstown, or maybe “All that shit just west of the PA border on 80.”

OhWhyOhio May 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I’m just really, really happy Cincinnati managed not to make the list. And a little surprised Cleveland didn’t. Cleveland is a dump.

Nigel May 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

No Camden, NJ? Or is this like the old Playboy Party School legend that it’s been so bad for so long that it’s considered a professional among amateurs?

bitchincamaro May 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

My ancient mother is visiting me this week. She told me that black people are leaving Detroit. I said, “Mom, who else is going to leave there?” My Mom’s the last white lady living in, not leaving Detroit.

But if the Red Wings lose to Anaheim tonight, I’m getting her out of there.

Malachite Kingfisher May 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm

[re=316777]engulfedinflames[/re]: What a fine description of Butte! I lived in the African copper belt for a couple of years. Fun thing to do: watch lightning hit the slag heap. Of course, the weather was better than in Butte. Food, too, probably.

IonaTrailer May 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Benton fucking Harbor, Michigan!

It’s been #1 for years – ever since KFC pulled out. You know your town is in serious trouble when even the Colonel leaves because of the crack-heads.

“Hey, Cracky….”

Lazy Media May 14, 2009 at 5:29 pm

[re=316761]TGY[/re]: The only reason Alpharetta’s on the list is that three teeny banks based there failed (one of which was completely Web-based, and therefore doomed from the start). Like anyone who lives there and doesn’t have one of the 200 total jobs at those three banks would notice.

Alpharetta’s kind of a pit, but just because it’s boring. A tidy, prosperous pit, full of SUVs and big-box strip malls.

Breakfast Bourbon May 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Came here expecting the haunting rural blight of my old stomping grounds in the Magnolia state. I guess not having thriving businesses there for a long time excludes them from a Business Insider list.

Georgia Burning May 14, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Stockton didn’t need to fall too far to make the list. For over 100 years its been the cheap crack (human, animal, chemical) capital of California. Still, what did the “Inland Empire” (not)do to be #2 to Detroit. Doesn’t being the birthplace of the Hells Angels count for anything?

assistant/atlas May 14, 2009 at 6:08 pm

This is a dumb, dumb list. According to them, Flint, MI is less depressing than Wichita, Alpharetta and West Palm Beach. Obviously this writer has never been to any of those places. Because Flint has to be the least happy place on Earth.

Here is what the actual list should be….

10/9. Fresno/Bakersfield, CA (tie)
8. Stockton, CA
7. Cleveland
6. Gary, IN
5. The entire state of West Virginia
4. Youngstown
3. East St. Louis
2. Flint
1. Detroit

Malachite Kingfisher May 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

[re=317144]assistant/atlas[/re]: May I amend an entry? I’d say:

5. The entire state of West Virginia, plus the Maryland Panhandle, western Pennsylvania, and southeastern Ohio. Oh, hell: every county that went for Hillary in the late primaries.

This gives Youngstown two places on the list , but that seems fair.

the cold war makes me hot May 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm

[re=317033]OhWhyOhio[/re]: That surprised me too. I guess that new streetcar they have been talking about for 15 years is what kept Da Nati off the list.

lawrenceofthedesert May 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I guess it depends what depresses you. I get more down in a place like Wilmette, IL than I do in Gary, because the people in Wilmette are so entitled, unsatisfied, greedy, judgmental and just as desperate in their own status-obsessed way as Gary gangbangers. I find Santa Monica as depressing as Riverside or Yucca Valley in the Redneck Ring (Inland Empire, a term also applied to parts of Washington state), but for different reasons. Few places are depressing per se; it’s the people there.

edgydrifter May 14, 2009 at 7:29 pm

[re=317197]lawrenceofthedesert[/re]: Yes, exactly–the people. That’s why Scranton/Wilkes-Barre should be at the tippy top of the list. It’s the kind of place shitty towns yearn to be when they mature into multigenerational shittiness. Horrible, decaying blight populated by loathsome blighters.

problemwithcaring May 14, 2009 at 7:42 pm

[re=316994]Jukesgrrl[/re]: Yea, I think you are right about the “economic reasons” — for every place but the Inland Empire. Notice – the other places were all cities or towns. The “Inland Empire” consists of two of the largest counties in California, both in geographical size and population. They are made up of hundreds of cities and townships, including decent ones like Palm Springs and Ontario.

But as Los Angeles’ “Jersey,” and ground zero of the 90′s Meth boom, the inflated housing bubble of the 90′s and today, the erosion of credit lending standards (IndyMac/Country), and the promotion and proliferation of sprawl, gas-guzzling commuters and NASCAR-watchers, I think the Inland Empire earns its special reputation as a true American Cesspool, irregardless of the swings in the economy.

dsmkrt May 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm

West Palm Beach is depressing because it’s where Rush Limbaugh lives and is populated with elderly people just waiting to die, watching recorded shows of “I Love Lucy” on VHS.

MarSF May 14, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Saw this lovely piece today:


I grew up in the “fancy” suburbs of Detroit (Bloomfield Hills). We would drive around downtown and wonder what it used to be like back in the day, and by that I mean the 1920′s- 1960. All I can say about this list is that at least some notable, cool people are from Detroit. Can’t say that about Stockton or frakking Yuma!

Moving out of Michigan was the best thing we ever did.

Downtheroadapiece May 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm

[re=317144]assistant/atlas[/re]: Not to totally disagree, but the Inland Empire earned it’s spot on that list fair and square. It belongs in at least the top five. Meth capital of Southern California. Smog too just for added texture.

thunderbunny May 14, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Top two things I wish news sites would quit doing:

1. Arbitrary lists (usually of American cities) that don’t say a word about their methodology, or whose methodology is laughably arbitrary

2. “Slideshows” consisting of one large picture and very little information, and requiring one click each through what should be one row of information in a neatly ordered list

karen May 14, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Ah the Mahoning Valley. I definitely think they meant Y-town and everything around it. Niles, Warren, Girard, Levittsburg, Mineral Ridge, and if i recall correctly there’s a GM plant in Lordstown…so they may be going down the tubes pretty fuckin’ quick.

I think it’s funny that the local minor league team is called “The Mahoning Valley Scrappers”, as if it’s something to be proud of…

windupbird May 14, 2009 at 9:03 pm

What about Brockton, Mass.? Now that’s God’s Country, I tell ya.

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