Not if it’s my city! And Travel and Leisure Magazine happened to dub my city, New Orleans, America’s number one dirtiest city. The short description justifying why New Orleans beats New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia in the dirty meter is a slap in the face to any native and we should all be insulted and infuriated. I demand a fair trial! Did the writers for this article actually come to New Orleans during an off-season? Did they compare our beautiful city to New York or Philadelphia in July? Or even those two cities to New Orleans in the winter?—have you ever drudged through the murky, taxi stained snow?I have, but never in New Orleans.
Here is the article before I destroy it—I want you to form your own opinion first:
“Can you imagine the cleanup required after Mardi Gras? Both tourists and Mother Nature have sometimes been hard on the Crescent City, which readers voted the dirtiest in America. But that doesn’t stop the good times from rolling on. Voters embraced the city’s fun-loving spirit, ranking New Orleans first for its nightlife and eclectic people-watching.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras and stayed awake the whole night until the New Orleans Police Department marches down Bourbon Street at midnight to close Mardi Gras. If not, you may have actually written the Travel article. If you haven’t seen this and leave New Orleans the morning of Ash Wednesday to get back to reality before your hangover wears off, you’re the worst kind of tourist and we natives know it—you use us.
The evidence is clear to anyone who wakes up and strolls down the Quarter the morning after Fat Tuesday: the streets are somehow squeaky clean. How? The city commissions workers to power clean the streets in the French Quarter then they sweep back over the area with a mechanical street sweeper. This machine uses soap and water so the street, by morning, reminds us of a freshly cleaned kitchen.
Aweldo3 agrees, commenting on the site that her number one point against Travel and Leisure’s physical assessment of Nola is “The photo of New Orleans? It’s a picture of what happens after a parade. If you have ever been to Carnival, you know that big sweeper trucks come and clean and hose down the streets after each day of parades.”
So what exactly are Travel and Leisure talking about?
They also claim in the second line of their justification that “tourists and Mother Nature have sometimes been hard on the Crescent City, which readers voted the dirtiest in America. But that doesn’t stop the good times from rolling on.” What does this have to do with New Orleans being a dirty city? Sounds like they were looking for filler words to highlight stereotypical phrases and attitudes like Crescent City, good times, and rolling.
There is also no explanation for how tourists and Mother Nature are hard on the Crescent City and how this makes Nola dirtier than NYC. Even New York residence are “surprised NYC wasn’t listed as dirtier. Between the dog poop and pee on every street, the garbage on the streets, and the random smells of waste/food/sludge NYC seems pretty dirty to me. Don’t get me wrong, I live here and I love it here, but we have a ways to go to clean up our act.”
The publication admits tourists are mostly to blame for the mess in our streets. That excludes the locals who actively recycle despite the lack of a public recycling program. Gambit, a local paper, commends locals for this fact and insists that though there are “other cities in the top five [that] include Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Memphis and New York…they have comprehensive citywide recycling programs” unlike New Orleans.
While New York is number 5 on the dirt list, I want to make a case for switching New York and New Orleans. After visiting New York early this July, I couldn’t help but notice that every day there were heaps of garbage pyramids separating the street from the sidewalk. The insides of public telephones were flanked with opened beers, potato chip bags, and dirty newspapers. In one phone booth, an open take out box reeked of day old Indian food.
This is everyday. If you walk down the streets of Uptown, Mid City, Metairie, or the Quarter (if you avoid Bourbon Street) you won’t walk into garbage. But tourists and lazy writers condense New Orleans to only Bourbon Street. That’s not all Nola is.
Even during summer festival season, the sanitary department of Nola are commended. Executive Director of French Quarter Festival wrote to SDT, the sanitary partners of New Orleans, after this year’s Festival Season thanking them from the community:
Accolades are coming in by the dozen, letting us know how pleased and impressed locals as well as the tourists are with the speed and quality of service from SDT. Your employees are like a small and successful army. Everyone acknowledges that French Quarter Festival broke all kinds of records this year – attendance, beer sales,coke sales, etc. and you guys really kept pace with the challenge of keeping us clean.
French Quarter Fest welcomed record numbered crowds of 533,000, which tops last years’ 512,000. So why would New Orleans be dirty if they received accolades for their superior sanitary work during our May through August Festival Season? These are the events and the moments Travel and Leisure should have compared to New York’s summer in order to make an educated list of dirty cities.